On 2 March, HRH The Duke of Cambridge officially launched the UK Season of the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange in Beijing. 

This first ever UK-China Year of Culture Exchange was a showcase of innovative UK culture in China and Chinese culture in the UK. 

In an auspicious ceremony at the start of his first visit to China, HRH The Duke of Cambridge heralded the start of the UK season of the Year of Cultural Exchange by dotting the eye of a sculpture of Aardman Animation’s internationally acclaimed character, Shaun the Sheep.

At the start of the Year of the Sheep, the Duke’s gesture echoed the auspicious ceremony of dotting the lion’s eye in a traditional Chinese lion dance, bringing good fortune and happiness to this Year of Cultural Exchange. 

The United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid MP and independent Chinese artist, Xu Bing, also joined the ceremony.

The chosen sculptures were part of a unique art exhibition for the Year of Cultural Exchange, and was designed to celebrate the UK's animation sector and partnerships with China. This initiative, by Aardman and Chinese partners UYoung Culture and Media Co, featured 50 Shaun the Sheep sculptures with designs by British and Chinese artists in five cities across China.

HRH The Duke of Cambridge and Vice President Li Yuanchao later witnessed the signing of a formal agreement marking the start of the Year of Cultural Exchange.

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