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King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway visit Dunhuang

After a few days of duty, King Harald and Queen Sonja launched their extended state visit to China on Thursday. The royals were then officially received by local representatives and children at the west-Chinese city of Dunhuang.

The official welcome ceremony was the only thing that happened on Thursday. On Friday, it was time to learn more about China and strengthen the bond between Norway and the East Asian country.

The King and Queen started their day by visiting the the solar power plant in Dunhuang.  The royal couple received a tour of the plant and looked over thousands of solar panels and mirrors that reflect the sun up to an energy-producing salt tower. Queen Sonja also took the opportunity to take some pictures herself with her iPhone.

This is one of China’s largest solar power plants. Sustainability, climate and the environment are critical issues during the ongoing state visit in China. Throughout the state visit, environmental issues are on the programme for the King and Queen. Sustainability is one of two points at a Norwegian-Chinese social science symposium that His Majesty King Harald will open in Beijing next week. Later, sustainable ocean management, green shipping and solutions to prevent marine shedding are also on the programme during a major business seminar in Shanghai.

The visit then continued to a local kindergarten in Dunhuang where the royals were warmly welcomed by local children.

King Harald and Queen Sonja saw children who painted with sand and had fun with stones. The visit is a part of the cooperation on Education for Sustainability in kindergarten education in China. It is the University College of Western Norway, which for many years has had a research co-operation in the kindergarten field with several universities in China.

The Mogao Caves. Photo: Zhangzhugang via Wikimedia Commons.

The kindergarten children had prepared a performance for the King and Queen where they danced and performed dressed in various national and animal costumes. Following the pleasant stay at the kindergarten, the royals continued to participate in the seminar “Education for Sustainability”. Friday ended with an official political meeting with the local authorities. The meeting was followed by an official dinner.

On Saturday, the royals will visit the Mogao Caves. The Mogao Caves form a system of 492 temples and contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning 1,000 years. The first caves were dug out in 366 AD as places of Buddhist meditation and worship.

Keep following Royal Central for the latest updates on the Norwegian state visit to China.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.