Is there anything better than friendship in this world? And when we fall and when we rise, our true friends are by our side.

They witness our tears, but also our smiles. Friendship between people and between countries is one of the most valuable things in our life.

This is what we felt on October 20 at the Chinese Embassy in Sofia at the Opening Ceremony of the Home for Friendship between China and Bulgaria. It enlightened us with the beauty we shared, with the kindness that surrounded us, with the optimism that made us dream. The inspiring idea of H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria, to create a public platform for friendship came true. This was the first public event at the embassy after the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guests were special - about 60 Bulgarians, friends from various fields who contributed to the development of Bulgarian-Chinese relations, and Chinese.

The host of the ceremony, Ms. Ma Qi, a young diplomat at the embassy, who speaks perfect Bulgarian, gave the floor first to the Chinese ambassador.

His Excellency Mr. Dong Xiaojun made a wise and powerful speech in which he shared, "We Chinese often say that the most important thing in communication between people is to come to mutual understanding with each other with all our hearts. The same applies to countries, so our main goal is to work for the rapprochement of people. The result of this is the establishment of the Chinese-Bulgarian Friendship Home". The ambassador stated that the home will be an open platform, the purpose of which is to bring together Bulgarians and Chinese from various fields such as politics, economy, culture, education, science and technology and others, to enable friendly exchange and cooperation between China and Bulgaria in various spheres and to help strengthen the friendship between our peoples and help common development.

His Excellency Mr. Dong Xiaojun emphasized that the Friendship Home welcomes various ideas and suggestions. It will be a flexible platform, and all the activities that will take place will be complex and thematic, with no restrictions on their form. He called on the attendees to think and make suggestions for various initiatives that will enrich the content of the exchange and cooperation between China and Bulgaria. "Through this platform, we will be able to learn from each other. Diversity is the basis of exchange between civilizations, and mutual learning is the basis of their development."

The ambassador also emphasized that this will be a platform that meets the needs of the times: "The main goal of the Home is to encourage Chinese-Bulgarian friendship to keep up with the times and development, to more actively build bridges for exchange between the two peoples and to constantly bring new energy and new meaning to our friendship."

Then Ms. Ma Qi gave the floor to Mr. Dimitar Boychev, chairman of the friendship group between Bulgaria and China in the previous National Assembly, who welcomed the opening of the Home for Friendship between China and Bulgaria and expressed his readiness for support and cooperation, with which to contribute to its success. This was followed by three more speeches by the representatives of the Ministry of Tourism, Business and Culture.

After the official speeches, Ms. Ma Qi announced the beginning of the cultural program specially prepared for the guests of the event. The ninth grade students of the 138 "Prof. Vasil Zlatarski" School, who are Chinese language learners, sang the song "Forgive me, my Chinese is not good". This was followed by a wonderful performance of a beautiful Chinese dance by Monika Pezhgorska from the 12th grade of the same school. And the Chinese student He Qingfan sang the song "My country, my Bulgaria", with which he greatly moved the audience and raised the mood in the hall.

Finally, Ms. Ma Qi called to the stage the students Sulad and Ivan Todorov from the Painting major of the National Academy of Arts (NHA), who were invited to draw emblematic flowers for China and Bulgaria – peonies and roses – during the event. They presented their works to the guests, then donated them to the Chinese Embassy as a sign of friendship.

And quite naturally, the Opening Ceremony of the Chinese-Bulgarian Friendship Home ended with a burst of champagne. It was opened by H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun and Mr. Dimitar Boychev. They were the first to put their wishes and signatures on the poster wall, specially made for the event. And then everyone present was invited to follow them.

In fact, the guests of the evening were all people with a bright presence in the Bulgarian public and cultural space. Gathered with their Chinese friends and partners, their conversations continued at the cocktail party that followed with some wonderful specialties of the Chinese cuisine.

"Diplomatic Spectrum" expresses its thanks to Pr. Mr. Dong Xiaojun, to the diplomats - Ms. Fan Yanqiong and Ms. Ma Qi, and to the staff of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China, for their special attention.

Each of the guests left the event with a gift - a souvenir and the recently published book "China through the eyes of the Bulgarians", and with the pleasant feeling of having experienced moments of beauty and kindness with friends.

Many wonderful ideas for the future development of Bulgarian-Chinese friendship and cooperation were inspired by this unforgettable evening at the opening of the China-Bulgaria Friendship Home!

Photos: "Diplomatic Spectrum"

Above: H. E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Bulgaria

First line: H.E. Mr. Dong Xiaojun; Mr. Dimitar Boychev, chairman of the friendship group between Bulgaria and China in the previous National Assembly; Ms. Ma Qi, the host of the event; Mrs. Sonia Alexieva, author of the recently published book "China through the eyes of the Bulgarians". Second line: footage from the cultural program and the champagne popping on the occasion of the opening of the Chinese-Bulgarian Friendship Home.