UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay poses for photos at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, on July 13, 2018. From July 16 to 19, Azoulay will make her first visit to China as Director-General of UNESCO. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)
China, which has been committed to multilateralism, is a strategic partner for UNESCO and "we can reinforce Chinese-UNESCO cooperation and move to a higher level", UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay has said.
From July 16 to 19, Azoulay will make her first visit to China as Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
"It's an important visit. The relationship between UNESCO and China is very strong and strategic," she said during a recent interview to Chinese media.
"Today's world faces many global challenges, such as the extremism, the climate issue, which no country can solve alone.
"We need concerted solutions, which must go through the multilateralism and the mandate of UNESCO, and China is a country who defends the multilateralism and supports UNESCO," she said.
"This is why I insist on going to China at the very beginning of my term," Azoulay said.
Azoulay, a former French culture minister, took office last November as chief of the UN body in a four-year term.
The 46-year-old was communication and culture advisor of former French president Francois Hollande between 2014 and 2016 before managing the Ministry of Culture under the Socialist government in February of 2016.
Audrey Azoulay, who had visited China regularly for more than 10 years, said she was impressed by Chinese evolution.
"When we look at the literacy rate, there is major progress since the 1980s, and the gap in literacy which existed between men and women was reduced in a very spectacular way over the last 20 years. That is at the basis of the current economic success of China and its advanced economy in technologies."
China is, she said, one of the most important countries in terms of recognition of world heritage through UNESCO procedures.
Azoulay said UNESCO and China have fruitful cooperation in different fields, such as the advancement of girls' and womens' education, professional training in Africa, etc. "In light of successful examples we already have, we could move this partnership to a higher level."
Evoking the Belt and Road Initiative, she said that "it's an initiative in which there are many convergences possible with the missions of UNESCO."
Besides the connection of infrastructures and economic cooperation, this Initiative is also about cultural and education connection and exchanges. UNESCO takes its role, for example, with some projects to preserve and restore the heritage sites of the countries along the historical trading routes, she said.
Azoulay underlined the pioneering place of China in artificial intelligence and will visit the Artificial Intelligence Institute of the University of Tsinghua during her visit.
"It's also an important domain for UNESCO, because that has a direct impact on education systems, and it's important for UNESCO to be a sharing platform so that this technology would be at the service of greater good."
UNESCO continues to accompany the evolution of education, science and culture in China, and China accompanies UNESCO to carry the message of education, culture, scientific cooperation, and new technology in the rest of the world, she concluded.