The Friendship Medal. (Photo/Xinhua)
President Xi Jinping will confer the first Friendship Medal ever awarded at the Great Hall of the People on Friday, part of the honors system that was established last July.
The gold and blue medal featuring a flying dove, the Earth and clasped hands, all surrounded by a lotus in bloom, symbolizing harmony, represents friendship between Chinese people and foreigners.
Together with the medal is a chain with the elements of a Chinese knot, evergreens, peony, jade and orchid.
The medal is handmade using the traditional filigree and inlay technique, as well as cloisonne enamel, a unique Beijing traditional handicraft.
The Friendship Medal, along with the Medal of the Republic, the July 1 Medal, the August 1 Medal, and national titles of honor constitute China's honors system established last year.
He Huiling, an expert on honors systems in China and abroad at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the Friendship Medal, the nation's highest honor for foreigners, can be conferred by the head of state to foreign dignitaries and international friends.
"The medal will help to set an example of friendship between China and other countries, and tell the world about China's values," she said.
China's honors system has entered a new stage since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, He said, and the medal reflects China's efforts in improving its socialist system.
Since he took office in 2013, President Xi has also been awarded several medals of honor from countries around the world for his contribution to peace and global goodwill.
The medals include the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called, the highest order in Russia, the Order of King Abdulaziz, the highest order in Saudi Arabia, and Nishan-e-Pakistan, the country's highest award for foreign leaders.