Chart­ing new cul­tural hori­zons

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSCANADA - By LI NA in Toronto re­nali@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Fang Li, the Chi­nese con­sul gen­eral in Toronto, be­came more well known for his singing in a Toronto flash-mob video cho­rus fea­tur­ing popular Chi­nese songs, as the two-minute news clip on the event has got­ten more than 77,900 hits on You Tube.

“I am so happy to join the flash mob cho­rus; it’s a good way to en­cour­age the cul­tural ex­changes be­tween China and Canada.”

Fang re­cently dis­cussed the Chi­nese Cul­ture Se­ries Project in Canada with China Daily.

The two-year se­ries con­cluded in Novem­ber, marked by a per­for­mance by the Na­tional Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts’ orches­tra band.

The se­ries has brought mu­sic, danc­ing, opera and exhibitions to Mon­treal, Ot­tawa, Toronto, Van­cou­ver and other ci­ties in Canada.

Top Chi­nese art in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing the Na­tional Bal­let of China, the Palace Mu­seum and the China Broad­cast­ing Per­form­ing Arts Group also have taken part. Lo­cal art groups and the gen­eral con­sulate in Toronto also have par­tic­i­pated.

“Toronto is the third-largest city in North Amer­ica, as well as Canada’s cen­ter of econ­omy and cul­ture,” Fang said. “Half of the 1.4 mil­lion Chi­nese liv­ing in Canada are re­sid­ing in Toronto, and we have some of the most en­thu­si­as­tic art lovers of the coun­try. So, Chi­nese cul­ture ac­tiv­i­ties in this city could well re­flect the Chi­nese Cul­ture Se­ries in gen­eral.”

There have been many high­lights in the past two years since Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper’s visit to China in 2012, which brought two gi­ant pan­das to the Toronto Zoo for the first time in 28 years and caused a “China fever” in Canada.

The pan­das Da Mao and Er Shun brought hap­pi­ness to Canada and also greet­ings from the Chi­nese peo­ple. They are re­garded as sym­bols of peace and friend­ship be­tween the two coun­tries.

Another high­light is the “The For­bid­den City: Inside the Court of China’s Em­per­ors”, an ex­hi­bi­tion co-pre­sented by the Palace Musuenm and the Royal On­tario Mu­seum (ROM). More than 200 na­tional trea­sures from Beijing — some trav­el­ing out­side China for the first time — at­tracted 200,000 to ROM from March to Septem­ber.

Dur­ing the China Now fes­ti­val at Toronto’s Har­bourfront Cen­ter in July, nearly 80 artists, crafts­men and in­her­i­tors of in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itages from China demon­strated Chi­nese folk cul­ture to­gether with artists in Canada, which at­tracted dozens of thou­sands of vis­i­tors.

“The suc­cess­ful ac­tiv­i­ties tell us again that cul­ture has no bound­ary,” said Fang, a diplo­mat for 36 years. “Good art work is the most touch­ing lan­guage, and can be ap­pre­ci­ated wher­ever it is.”

Both Canada and China are mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­eties. China is of­fi­cially com­posed of 56 eth­nic groups; Canada lists more than 100 eth­nic groups. Dur­ing the Canada China Ti­betan Cul­ture Week in Novem­ber, Cana­dian au­di­ences were treated to thrilling song and dance per­for­mances by the 60-plus-mem­ber Ti­betan Lhoka Art Troupe.

“Lots of Cana­dian friends were sur­prised that Chi­nese mi­nori­ties have such col­or­ful and beau­ti­ful cos­tumes and cul­tures,” Fang said, re­fer­ring to a fash­ion show two years ago.

The in­ti­macy be­tween two peo­ples lies in the mu­tual un­der­stand­ings, Fang ex­plained. “So cul­ture is the bridge of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the two coun­tries.”

There is po­ten­tial for more cul­tural ex­changes. When Harper vis­ited China in Novem­ber, the two sides pro­claimed 201516 as Canada-China Cul­tural Ex­change Year.

“With the con­clu­sion of the Chi­nese and Cana­dian Cul­tural Se­ries and the start of the Chi­naCanada Cul­tural Ex­change Year, there would be a new hori­zon for the cul­tural ex­changes be­tween the two coun­tries,” Fang said. Lu Hui­quan in New York con­trib­uted to this story.

Fang Li,

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