BEIJING, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- As China on Tuesday awarded six foreigners the Friendship Medal for their great contributions, the international community said the awarding shows China's amity with other parts of the world and its gesture of openness.
"I am deeply touched and moved," former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, an honoree of the medal, told Xinhua, noting that in the past decades he has worked to promote the friendship between French and Chinese peoples, and is "sincerely pleased" that this work is recognized by China.
"The world needs a strong European-Chinese friendship for its (the world's) now threatened equilibrium. To work for this friendship is to work for peace," Raffarin added.
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn told the Chinese Embassy in Thailand that she is pleased and honored to receive the medal, as well as grateful that China offered such a high honor.
As China conferred the medal on Raul Castro Ruz, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, it recognizes the revolutionary work of his life and his contribution to strengthening relations between Cuba and China, President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of Cuba Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez tweeted.
The awarding sets a prime example of China's friendship with other countries and signals its active delivery of such ideas as peace and friendship, fairness and justice, and common prosperity, said Michele Geraci, former undersecretary of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development.
With Raffarin receiving the award, Geraci said it embodies the profound friendship between Europe and China, and shows the two sides' common goal of safeguarding world peace.
Federico Masini, an Italian sinologist and Italian director of the Confucius Institute at La Sapienza University in Rome, said the awarding plays an active role in developing the friendship between China and other countries.
Many foreign friends have given a hand with China's development and the awarding reflects China's friendly exchanges with other parts of the world, said Hu Yishan, a senior research scholar at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
"Like our honours system here -- and in other countries, it is much more the distinction, honour and pride in receiving recognition than money or wealth that makes such honours important to people seeking to make the world a better place for all people," said Alan Barrell, an entrepreneur in residence at the University of Cambridge's Judge Business School.
"The names distinguish the award," said Stephen Perry, chairman of Britain's 48 Group Club. "China is leading by example with nominating leading regional and global people who are committed to peaceful methods to resolve issues."
Martin Albrow, a British sociologist and emeritus professor at the University of Wales, said the award "represents China's gratitude for worldwide support in its rise. It recognizes that this has come from every quarter of the globe, from men and women, state officials and ordinary citizens, irrespective of origin and ideology."
"It's a demonstration that China intends to continue reaching out to the world for the next 70 years," Albrow said.