|UN Under-Secretary-General for Public Information and Communications Kiyotaka Akasaka speaks during the Chinese Language Day at the United Nations, at the UN headquarters in New York, Nov. 12, 2010. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations celebrated the first Chinese Language Day Friday as part of an initiative to raise awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six official languages of the world body.
"The Chinese language was designated as one of the official languages of the United Nations from its very beginning. It is one of the most ancient and widely spoken languages in the world," said Kiyo Akasaka, under-secretary-general for the Department of Public Information (DPI) and coordinator for multilingualism at the UN.
Addressing some 100 UN staff and diplomats attending the ceremony, Akasaka said he was very happy to see the strong interest in the Chinese Language Day from so many diverse UN offices and groups who work with Chinese on a daily basis.
"We are delighted to draw attention to the beauty, history and cultural importance of the Chinese language," Akasaka said.
In order to show his own appreciation of Chinese poetry, Akasaka, who is a Japanese national, surprised the audience by showing his own Chinese calligraphy.
Li Baodong, permanent representative of Chinese Mission to the United Nations, said that it is of great significance to celebrate the Chinese Language Day for the first time in the UN history.
"We sincerely hope that the celebrations will further expand the influence of Chinese as an UN official language and offer a window of opportunity for more people to meet and learn about the time-honored and splendid Chinese civilization and culture," Li said.