In August 2012 China will for the first time host the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Beijing. This triennial gathering of astronomers from around the world to discuss and debate the most recent discoveries about the universe is an important part of the vitality of our science. Astrophysics remains one of the most exciting areas of human endeavor, and the venue of the Beijing GA will be equally impressive: the new China National Convention Center that is housed in the Olympic Park in a beautiful, spacious building and area that is full of amenities for conference participants and visitors.
The contributions of Chinese astronomy to human knowledge and our understanding of the cosmos have been of historical significance, from the earliest to modern times. GA participants will have an opportunity to experience the wide range of astronomical activities now taking place in China that include new projects, facilities, and institutes. They will also report on, and hear, the latest research results from every field of astronomy. An exciting scientific programme is being developed that will hold the interest of everyone. I am pleased to welcome all Union members and invited guests to join us in Beijing for what will be a memorable General Assembly.