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UN opens new China Lounge

Updated: 2014-12-23 10:52
By NIU YUE in New York (China Daily USA)

UN opens new China Lounge

Chinese painter Wang Linxu speaks at the inauguration ceremony of the China Lounge at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday. [Lu Huiquan/for China Daily].

The East Foyer of the United Nations General Assembly Building in New York has been renamed the "China Lounge", as the area has just finished renovation under the sponsorship of the Chinese government and was officially unveiled on Monday.

China signed a $1 million donation agreement with the UN in 2011 to renovate the lounge on the second floor of General Assembly Building. It is part of the UN's Capital Master Plan (CMP), an estimated $2 billion project to spruce up the UN's 60-year-old New York headquarters. The UN had been considering renovations since 1995, but no plan was approved by the General Assembly until 2006. The overhaul started in 2008 and is expected to wrap up by 2015 or 2016.

China proposed naming the East Foyer "China Lounge" in 2013.

"China's generous contribution underscores its role in helping to secure a future of peace and prosperity for the human family," said Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations in a statement.

Norway, Denmark, Russia and other countries have also made similar donations by sponsoring special projects, which are above and beyond a member nation’s required contributions towards the overall renovation.

Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, predicts that the lounge will witness many history-making moments in the days ahead, as the world readies to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as the founding of the UN.

The China Lounge, which was three years in the making, is "a brand new foyer combining Chinese culture and blending perfectly with the surrounding environment", said Liu.

Two large-scale paintings by Wang Linxu, one of China's top artists, will be on permanent display in the lounge as a celebration of Chinese culture, international aesthetics and UN values.

Wang, now 55, is the founder of the transcendental imagery school in Chinese traditional painting, a contemporary take on Chinese ink-and-wash painting that "does not focus on what people see but focuses on what people feel", Wang said.

His 20-by-8-foot Interactive World features a world map which has been made abstract with sea waves, mineral veins and mountains and expresses Wang’s love for the planet.

The artist also included elements of pollution and war, in accordance with the UN's advocacy for environmental protection, world peace and development.

Wang’s other work, the 12-by-9-foot Home of Us All, depicts bamboo, a symbol of integrity in Chinese culture, and is a call for fairness and justice, he said.

It took Wang four years to finish the paintings, he said. "Whatever group, ethnicity or religion we are in, we all share some universal vision about art," said Wang. "Through this, I want to express the world's hope for peaceful development and harmonious interaction."

The UN Headquarters, built in 1947, had seen no major upgrades before the CMP. Facilities were so outdated they didn’t meet New York City's fire code standards, according to UN Radio. The CMP project will not only make the UN able to handle more visitors, staff and events, but also make it more energy-efficient, the UN said.

Lu Huiquan in New York contributed to this story.

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