CHINA - One hundred foreign experts from 25 countries received China's Friendship Award - the nation's highest honour for achievement by a foreigner - at the Great Hall of the People on Monday afternoon.
They were recognised nationally as driving forces in economic and social development. Foreign experts have worked in diverse fields and exerted great influence in China, and they have enhanced exchanges and cooperation between China and the rest of the world, Vice-Premier Ma Kai said during the ceremony.
"China will provide a broad stage for visionary people of the world to bring their talent into full play," Ma said.
He added that China will improve its laws and regulations regarding foreign experts and more carefully protect their intellectual property rights.
Since 1991 when the awards were first given, 1,399 foreign experts have been honoured. In most recent years, 50 foreign experts have been selected for awards, but that number is increased to 100 in years that mark significant anniversaries of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
This year marks the 65th anniversary.
Foreign experts may win the award only once.
Award winner Alain Merieus from France said receiving the award was a privilege and an honour. He praised the government for encouraging cooperation in science and technology, especially for the project he leads.
Merieus oversees a high-security laboratory on infectious disease scheduled to open in Wuhan, Hubei province, by the end of 2014. Laboratories in Wuhan and Lyon, France, will then be able to more closely collaborate in the battle against infections such as Ebola.
Rakhymbekova Yahievna, an award winner from the Republic of Kazakhstan, feels she has been honoured for more than her personal efforts.
"The hospitality of the people in Xinjiang makes me feel at home and deeply in love with the place, and working here has become a very exciting experience," she said.
The 52-year-old food safety professional has worked for a company in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region since 2009. Products developed by her team occupy 30 per cent of the market in her home country.
The national award shows that China attaches great importance to foreign experts working here, as they are people who, in turn, can attract more colleagues to China to work and promote the country's development, many recipients said at the ceremony.
"An open China with more foreign experts can do better in the world," Terry Quinn from the UK said.
Bill Gaspard, design director of China Daily, received the Friendship Award for his contributions in presenting news of China and its culture to the world through the development of editions around the globe.
To be eligible for the award, one must be a foreign expert who has made prominent contributions to China, such as helping the country solve key problems, enabling domestic enterprises to achieve breakthroughs in development or other outstanding accomplishments in teaching, academic studies and overseas publicity.