Finland’s centennial in China culminated in the Independence Week, during which receptions were held both in Beijing and Shanghai. In Beijing, nearly 600 guests celebrated Independence Day at the InterContinental Sanlitun Hotel, and even two galas were organized in Shanghai. First was organized by Finnish Business Council Shanghai and the Shanghai Finns on December 2, and the other was held by the Consulate General in Shanghai on December 6.
The Independence Day reception hosted by Ambassador Jarno Syrjälä was the main event of Finland’s 100th anniversary year in Beijing. The event in InterContinental Sanlitun Hotel was one of the largest Independence Day parties organized outside Finland. Altogether, there were nearly 600 guests comprising of Finns and Finnish businesses in Beijing, Chinese stakeholders, foreign diplomats as well as military attachés.
The theme of the event was winter – portrayed among other things by a Finland 100 ice sculpture, wintery campfires and a dancefloor reminiscent of frozen lake ice. The visual design was by Ivana Helsinki.
The evening’s program featured world-class soprano Dilbèr’s performance of Finlandia and Diamanten på Marssnön by Finnish composer Sibelius, a choir of Chinese Finnish-language students’ performance of Finnish folk song Kalliolle Kukkulalle, an appearance from the authentic Santa straight from Korvatunturi, Finland, and a speech delivered by Ambassador Syrjälä. The guest of honor was Deputy Director General Zhu Jing from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
Earlier, in the morning of Independence Day, Santa Claus visited Guang Ai orphanage in North Beijing giving Christmas gifts to children and also donation to the director of the center. During the day Santa visited also in Western Academy of Beijing to meet Finnish pupils.
In Shanghai, to honor our 100th anniversary, the Finnish Independence Day was celebrated at two different occasions. Both of the events were held at the historic Fairmont Peace Hotel, with one on Saturday, December 2, and the second one the actual Independence Day, December 6. Saturday's event was organized by Finnish Business Council Shanghai (FBCS) together with the Shanghai Finns. The Independence Day reception on December 6, held for the first time in Shanghai, was hosted by the Consulate General together with FBCS.
The Independence Day Gala on December 2 continued the tradition where the Finns in Shanghai and the surrounding provinces gather together to celebrate the most important day of the year. This time, with "Together" as the slogan for the Centennial year, the invitation was extended to friends of Finland and nearly 400 guests attended the gala. Shanghai's very own international choir, Shanghai International Voices, performed at the event and the party kicked into full gear with Annika Eklund and band – naturally, the culmination of the gala was when the artist performed her very aptly titled hit song, "Lights of Shanghai".
The Independence Day reception on December 6, hosted by Consul General Jan Wahlberg, was attended by three hundred guests, including important Chinese partners, Finnish companies and members of the diplomatic community. Consul General Wahlberg held a speech in honor of the occasion, followed by the performance of Ida Elina – a popular Finnish artist combining the traditional instrument kantele with modern musical styles.