On Monday, Audrey Azoulay began her first official visit to China as Director-General of UNESCO with a historic meeting with President Xi Jinping.
It was the first time a Chinese President ever received a UNESCO Director-General. This follows a watershed moment for China-UNESCO relations when President Xi visited UNESCO Headquarters in 2014, his first visit to a UN Organization.
For the Director-General, the visit marks “the beginning of a new era for the strategic partnership between China and UNESCO”. She stressed her conviction that “multilateralism is more important than ever in responding to contemporary challenges” and hailed “China’s remarkable commitment within the multilateral system.”
Audrey Azoulay also highlighted “the modernity of UNESCO’s mission to build a more human future through education, culture and the sciences.”
During the meeting, they discussed opportunities to strengthen the strategic partnership in education between China and UNESCO , emphasizing Africa and the promotion of girls' and women"s education – the two global priorities of UNESCO. In culture, the Director-General underscored the importance of Chinese cultural heritage (China is the second country in the World Heritage ranking).
She continued her visit with a dinner on Monday with the First Lady, Peng Liyuan, UNESCO Special Envoy for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The Director-General expressed her gratitude for the First Lady’s commitment as “girls’ and women’s education is an important driver for inclusive and sustainable development”.
The Director-General will visit the Artificial Intelligence Institute of Tsinghua University.