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Swedish royals arrive in China on Götheborg

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12:49 CEST+02:00
Sweden's king and queen on Tuesday sailed into Canton, in China, aboard the ship "Götheborg," a three-masted wood ship modelled on a vessel that sailed between Sweden and China in the 1700s.

After 10 months at sea, Götheborg landed in China, where the king and queen were met by some 240 Chinese journalists and watched by 700 million locals on state-run TV channels.

"The Chinese are very curious about the royal couple," said Xisolu He, with the China Media Center.

Canton has invested a lot of time and money in the visit, rebuilding the harbour for Götheborg's arrival.

"This is a big moment in relations between china and Sweden," said Canton Mayor Wang Xiao Ling.

"We have invested 300 million kronor for this occasion. We are counting on getting our money back after the royal visit helps put Canton on the world's map."

The city has also built a 24-hectare big outdoor park with a special Götheborg village that will serve Swedish coffee and other foods.

The royal couple will continue on Wednesday to Beijing to meet China's President Hu Jintao.

The Swedish royal pair last visited China in 1981.

"It feels like a fantastic way to come back to China," said Queen Silvia.

With the Swedish delagation plus all the business sponsors who wanted to be seen onboard, the maximum passenger number of 170 including crew was exceeded. But a special dispensation was granted to allow student in the crew to be part of the royal visit.

"I'm extremely proud and happy to be involved," laughed 22 year old Jessie, a Cantonese student who won a competition for a place on Götheborg, and sailed to China from Jakarta in Indonesia.

After several days of rain, the visitors were pleased with the weather despite the almost unbearable heat. The sun was shining but Queen Silvia seemed remarkably cool in a cobalt-blue dress decorated with a sailor's brooch.

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