Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses a welcoming banquet in Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang province, Sept 23, 2023. Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan hosted the banquet to welcome guests who will attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
At a dining hall near the famed West Lake, Xi addressed the welcoming banquet in honor of guests including King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda of Nepal, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of Timor-Leste, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo of the Republic of Korea, and Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat of Malaysia Johari bin Abdul.
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Xi, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in the name of his wife Peng Liyuan and himself, extended a warm welcome to the guests.
He talked beyond the Games, highlighting the sports' role in promoting peace, solidarity and inclusiveness among countries and peoples.
Peace, unity, inclusiveness
The Asian Games embodies the Asian people's shared desire for peace, unity and inclusiveness. It has been a witness, participant and contributor of the Asian miracle – the overall stability and rapid and sustained economic growth over the past decades, said the Chinese president.
China will deliver a great event that is distinctly Chinese, uniquely Asian and spectacular.
Xi Jinping, President, China
As members of a community with a shared future, Asian countries should pursue good neighborliness and mutual benefit, and reject the Cold War mentality and bloc confrontation, making Asia an anchor of world peace, he said.
On unity, Xi said as humanity faces unprecedented global challenges, Asian people should seize the historic opportunity and jointly stand up to the challenges so as to open up broader prospects for the Asian road toward common development, openness and integration.
On inclusiveness, he stressed the efforts to promote inclusiveness through sports, enhance confidence in Asian civilizations, pursue exchanges and mutual learning, and renew the glory of Asian civilizations.
Asia is a region with diverse cultures, and the Asiad is a great opportunity for the athletes and delegations to further deepen mutual understanding and exchanges through the bond of sports, said Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul, vice president of the National Olympic Committee of Thailand.
With all 45 members of the Olympic Council of Asia sending over 12,000 athletes to the Games, the Hangzhou Asiad is already the Asiad with the most participants, most sports and largest overall scale.
The Republic of Korea, Mongolia and Palestine have each sent the largest delegation in their history of the Asian Games.
On Saturday evening, the opening ceremony will be staged in the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, a lotus-shaped facility capable of seating over 80,000 people.
President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan, pose for a photo with guests during a welcoming banquet in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Sept 23, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Including the main stadium, a total of 56 sporting venues will host 481 Asiad events.
At Saturday's banquet, Xi said the cauldron for the Asian Games will light up again in China on the Autumn Equinox, a day symbolizing harvest and reunion in Chinese culture.
He said China has earnestly fulfilled its commitments and made every effort for the preparation of the Games.
"China will deliver a great event that is distinctly Chinese, uniquely Asian and spectacular," Xi said.
President Xi Jinping addresses the welcoming banquet in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Sept 23, 2023. (PHOTO / XINHUA)The Chinese president also expressed his confidence in the event's success when meeting with both Acting President of the Olympic Council of Asia Raja Randhir Singh and International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach before the opening ceremony.
"I believe we will have the greatest ever Asiad," Singh has said during an interview.
This will be the third Asiad in China following the Beijing games in 1990 and the Guangzhou games in 2010.
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Hangzhou, the host city of the 19th Asiad in Zhejiang Province, was once hailed by Italian traveler Marco Polo as "the City of Heaven, the finest and the noblest in the world."
Xi wished all Asiad guests an unforgettable experience in Zhejiang and a fond memory of the Games.
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