Minutes of meeting to discuss proposal 
of a Zhaoqing Matteo Ricci Cultural Exchange Center 

Date and photos:   2005-03-23  

Place: Seven Star Crags Guiyuan Restaurant

Present: Mr Sun De (Vice-Mayor of Zhaoqing), Mr Fabrizio Pio Arpea (Consul General of Italy, Guangzhou), Mr Cheng Hong Bo (Director of Tourism Bureau, Zhaoqing), Mr Li Qi Cong (Director of Religious Affairs of Zhaoqing), Mr Li Gang (Vice-Director of Tourism Bureau, Zhaoqing), Mr Mark SG Liang (Zhaoqing Foreign Affairs Service Center), Mr John Wotherspoon (Canadian-American School)

Topic: Proposed Matteo Ricci Cultural Exchange Center to be built in Zhaoqing as a major international tourist attraction

Background information:

* Tourism is one of the main aims of Zhaoqing City Government (along with technology and trade)

* Zhaoqing's present and future transport infra-structure makes it a convenient place to visit (...plan for new highway from Guangzhou airport....40 minutes to Zhaoqing). For investment Zhaoqing can offer a deal as good as, if not better, than any other place in Guangdong

* Zhaoqing and nearby districts have many natural tourist attractions (Seven Star Crags, Ding Hu Mountain,   Pan Long Waterfalls etc)

* Zhaoqing is a very beautiful city and has far less pollution than Shenzhen, Guangzhou & other places

* Like other cities in China, Zhaoqing needs to be more "tourist friendly" for overseas tourists, especially by more signs in English +  more "tourist walks" (in city and in nearby rural districts) 

* Historically Zhaoqing & nearby districts have many firsts:
- the place where Cantonese was first developed
- the place where contact was first re-established with the outside world
- the place where the first modern map of the world in Chinese was made

Special Relationship between Zhaoqing & Matteo Ricci:

* Of all the cities in China, only Macau (where he stayed briefly in 1582),  Zhaoqing (where he lived for 6 years, 1583-1589) and Beijing (where he died in 1610) can "claim" the famous Italian scholar Matteo Ricci

* In Zhaoqing there are several places which recall Ricci's stay:
the paintings in "Hung Lau" and the memorial plaque near the HK ferry pier + the building in Cross Road

 * Ricci respected Chinese culture and promoted genuine exchange between China and  Europe. He is an ideal model of how different cultures can have friendly exchanges

* To commemorate Ricci and to promote cultural exchange, it is proposed that there be in Zhaoqing a Matteo Ricci Cultural Exchange Center (...Ricci Center...)

Possible Location:

* One possible location for the Ricci Center  in Zhaoqing is  on top of the present railway station site  (...ideal for transport....ideal Fung Shui, mountains behind, water in front)  ....site 02 imges...


* A Center of some 12 floors/sections, each floor/section able to hold/seat 300-500 people

* The  floors could include
- one floor with a history of Zhaoqing
- one floor with a history of Matteo Ricci in China, especially in Zhaoqing
- one floor as an Italian Expo (+ Italian Restaurant, Italian Language Centre etc)
- one floor as a permanent English Corner for exchange between foreign visitors and local people/students
- one floor especially for young children (play area; library; canteen; mini-theatre)
- one floor for conventions
- one floor as an observatory (view of Seven Star Crags + City) and restaurant
- one floor especially just for weddings & wedding receptions
- one floor a theatre for plays/shows/musical performances
- one floor a theatre for movies
- one floor a library/bookstore, with local and overseas books, magazines, newspapers + VCDs, DVDs etc concerning China, Ricci, learning English
- one floor for tour groups to have meetings/gatherings

Possible style of building: maybe like the Guangzhou Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, with a large statue of Ricci at front (and behind the statue a large map of the world, with Italy and China highlighted)

* From the Ricci Center there could be tours each day to the places in Zhaoqing associated with Ricci 

Benefits for having such a Center in Zhaoqing:

* Such a Center in Zhaoqing would make Zhaoqing famous internationally and attract  tens of thousands of overseas visitors each year

* Such a Center would be of special interest to people in Italy and Italian people in USA, Australia, UK etc

* Such a Center would attract foreign investment to Zhaoqing, especially from Italy

* If the profits from this Center could go to help poor people in China, especially poor schools, overseas people would be even more interested in coming to Zhaoqing

* This overseas visitors who come to the Center will also visit other parts of China....so this Center is good for not just Zhaoqing but for the whole of China

Proposed Opening Date: 

* For maximum publicity etc, such a Center would ideally need to be opened before the Beijing Olympics in 2008


* It is proposed that this project will be financed by The Zhaoqing Matteo Ricci  Association (comprising representatives from the Italian Consulate-General in GuangZhou, Zhaoqing Government, and other interested groups and individuals)

* Fundraising: the responsibility of the above Zhaoqing Matteo Ricci Association 


* It is proposed that the Ricci Center will be managed by the above Zhaoqing Matteo Ricci Association

* A website name has already been obtained: www.riccicenter.com

* Possible builder: Mr Liang (Ng Chuen school project)

* Possible design consultant: Stephen Barry (HK)