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Of all cultures that have existed for thousands of years, China's is one of the oldest. Since the travels of Marco Polo, it has intrigued the Western imagination and has had an immense influence on European art and culture. This fascination with China has thrived right up until the present day, and a journey to "the Middle Kingdom" remains an extraordinarily rich and captivating experience. Since the earliest contacts between China and the West, transportation technology has made considerable contributions to cultural interchange, first through maritime trade and later, on a more extensive scale, through air traffic as well. Lufthansa, which has participated in the realization of this exhibition, undertook its first test flights to China during the 1920s, and in 1927 and 1928, the famous Asian expert Sven Hedin explored the Gobi desert and its climate with Lufthansa's assistance.

These initial adventures developed into commercial flights, when, in 1930, Lufthansa and the Chinese Ministry of Transport signed an agreement for the operation of a European-Asian air-mail company, Eurasia. The company flew its Shanghai-Nanjing-Beijing-Manshuli route once a week, and, although this scheme soon had to be given up, its pioneering flights represented a further step in China's relationship with Europe and the rest of the world.

Today, air connections to China are both comfortable and plentiful. As in the early days of aviation, however, Lufthansa's commitment in China is greater than the transportation of passengers and cargo. Together with Air China, Lufthansa operates a maintenance center for Chinese aviation, cooperates in the training of aviation personnel, and runs air-catering kitchens.

China: 5,000 Years is an expression of the ties between the West and China as it reemerges as an economic and political superpower. We are pleased to offer our support for this exhibition as a Global Partner of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, with the conviction that works of art build the longest-lasting bridges to mutual understanding.

Frederick W. Reid
President and Chief Operating Officer
Lufthansa German Airlines

Please visit the Lufthansa website.

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