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GENEVA, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Villa of Montfleury or Villa of Flower Hill witnessed New China's first major show at the world stage at the 1954 Geneva Conference since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.

The Villa of Montfleury, situated at the corner of the Versoix about 10 kilometers from Geneva, is a white building named for its location at Chemin de Montfleury.

Anyone who first visits the villa could easily get lost in finding his way to the building.

On a drizzling day, a white-haired elderly man showed Xinhua reporters to the entrance of the villa. He said he had lived there for many years and saw many Chinese visitors.

This is a three-storey building surrounded by other residential villas. At the entrance, there hangs a copper plate that carries words in both Chinese and French, saying that then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai stayed here in 1954.

The Geneva conference was opened at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on April 26, 1954. Delegations from the Soviet Union, the United States, France, Britain, China and over 40 other countries and regions attended the event. China sent a 180-strong delegation led by Zhou.

The conference was the scene of fierce diplomatic struggles, hard and secretive negotiations, and intrigues by some Western countries led by the United States, which was then a strong hostile force against China.

The negotiation tables were described by some historians as smokeless battlefields.

However, Premier Zhou's diplomatic genius and experiences had won over not only friends but also foes during the negotiations.

The conference at the end passed a final declaration on Indochina which paved ways for ceasefire in Indochina between France and North Vietnam, thus exerting a milestone impact on the process of national independence of Indochinese peoples.

Moreover, through this meeting, the world realized that the Chinese people had made huge efforts for safeguarding the security of their own country, and made great contributions to keeping world peace, pushing forward the cause of human progress, and bringing about the negotiated settlement of international disputes.

During the conference, many foreigners visited the villa of Montfleury. Among them were two prominent figures.

One was then British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. At that time, Britain was wavering over its policy toward China. Within the British government, some people hoped to improve relations with China, while others strongly supported the United States in its confrontation with China.

The sincere gestures of the Chinese delegation impressed Eden so much that he interacted with the Chinese delegation many times and became one of the most frequent guests to the villa.

The two sides also reached an agreement that China would send a charge d'affaires to Britain, which would let bilateral relations take a great step forward. Eden later recalled this meeting in his memoir.

The other one was the famous American comedian Charlie Chaplin who lived in Switzerland at that time. Despite hostile international situation, Chaplin kept his friendly attitude toward China and always cherished a love for Chinese culture and art.

One evening before the end of the conference, Zhou invited Chaplin and his wife to dinner at the villa and introduced a classic Chinese love story movie, "Butterfly Lovers," to the guests. They had a very pleasant meeting.

Zhou's interactions with celebrities at the villa not only made the outside world better understand New China, but also gave a blow to certain hostile Western anti-China propaganda.

Ma Zhaoxu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International Organizations in Switzerland, said the 1954 Geneva Conference marked the first time New China entered the international arena.

"For more than 60 years, Geneva witnessed that China has progressed from a bystander of the international system to a participant and leader," he said.

At the corridor of the Palais des Nations, Francois Subiger, who is in charge of radio and television affairs in the United Nations and has visited China for dozens of times, told Xinhua that as time goes by, many things have been forgotten.

"But the villa always evokes memories of the past, because it witnessed the People's Republic of China's march toward the international arena after all the twists and turns," he said.

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