Spring Fest goes global

More of the world is get­ting into the spirit of China’s big­gest and best hol­i­day. Wang Kai­hao re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE -

The world is revving up to cel­e­brate the Chi­nese Spring Fes­ti­val. About 2,000 cul­tural events will be staged around the globe dur­ing the pe­riod, which marks the Lu­nar New Year, China’s Min­istry of Cul­ture said at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

“An abun­dant va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing per­for­mances, ex­trav­a­gan­zas and fairs, will serve as the flag­ship of our coun­try’s ex­ter­nal cul­tural re­la­tions,” says Li Jian­gang, deputy di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s bu­reau for ex­ter­nal cul­tural re­la­tions.

The min­istry has or­ga­nized for art troupes to stage Spring Fes­ti­val events over­seas since 2001. It launched the more com­pre­hen­sive “Happy Spring Fes­ti­val” pro­gram in 2009 to of­fer a greater di­ver­sity of cel­e­bra­tions.

The pro­gram saw 65 events in 42 coun­tries and re­gions in 2010. It ex­panded to 2,100 events in more than 400 cities in 140 coun­tries and re­gions in 2016, when more than 40 state lead­ers and se­nior politi­cians joined the 250 mil­lion par­tic­i­pants abroad.

The pro­gram will es­sen­tially match that scale in 2017, the min­istry says.

The Lu­nar New Year will ar­rive on Jan 28, but the fes­ti­val tra­di­tion­ally lasts nearly a month.

The Spring Fes­ti­val is a na­tional hol­i­day in 10 other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Canada, Malaysia and Mau­ri­tius.

This of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand the pro­gram in the fu­ture, says Li.

“We’ ll have dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties in dif­fer­ent re­gions,” he says.

“Car­ni­vals will prove pop­u­lar in neigh­bor­ing Asian na­tions and Latin Amer­ica, whereas we’ ll fo­cus on high­end per­for­mances in North Amer­ica. Euro­peans pre­fer such arts as dances and dra­mas. Ac­tiv­i­ties must be mixed into lo­cal cul­tural events to flour­ish and wield last­ing in­flu­ence.”

The pro­gram will also pro­mote in­ter­na­tional cul­tural trade in such sec­tors as de­sign, e-com­merce and the con­struc­tion of cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions’ fa­cil­i­ties’.

China’s top cul­tural body

Ac­tiv­i­ties must be mixed into lo­cal cul­tural events to flour­ish and wield last­ing in­flu­ence.” Li Jian­gang, deputy di­rec­tor of the Min­istry of Cul­ture’s bu­reau for ex­ter­nal cul­tural re­la­tions

also hopes to con­sol­i­date its in­ter­na­tional plat­form to reg­u­larly show the finest parts of the coun­try’s cul­ture af­ter the fes­ti­val ends.

There will be more than 50 China Cul­tural Cen­ters over­seas by the end of 2020, com­pared with the cur­rent 30, the min­istry says.

“The cen­ters of­fer com­pre­hen­sive in­tro­duc­tions of Chi­nese cul­ture and thus shape China’s in­ter­na­tional im­age,” says Zheng Hao, an of­fi­cial with the min­istry, who is in charge of the pro­gram.

“Lo­cal res­i­dents’ cus­toms are also in­cor­po­rated.”

Lec­tures, sem­i­nars and art fes­ti­vals that gather schol­ars, artists and au­thors from China and host coun­tries are of­ten held in the cen­ters through­out the year.

For ex­am­ple, about 150 sem­i­nars on com­par­a­tive stud­ies, mu­si­cals, per­for­mances and spe­cial ex­hi­bi­tions have been held in the cen­ters since Septem­ber to mark the si­mul­ta­ne­ous an­niver­saries of the deaths of Wil­liam Shake­speare and Chi­nese Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644) play­wright Tang Xianzu 400 years ago.

In re­cent years, Ber­lin’s cul­tural cen­ter has twice or­ga­nized Euro­pean cham­pi­onships for the Chi­nese board game Go.

The Paris cen­ter hosted Chi­nese film fes­ti­vals, which met with re­sound­ing suc­cess. Sin­ga­pore’s cen­ter opened an art school for lo­cal chil­dren.

“We must do more to spread Chi­nese cul­ture around the world,” says Zheng.

“Some prov­inces and cities have rich ex­pe­ri­ence in in­ter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so our min­istry has de­cided to co­op­er­ate with them to es­tab­lish some cen­ters over­seas.”

The gov­ern­ment of Shang­hai and the min­istry re­cently part­nered to found Brus­sels’ China Cul­tural Cen­ter as one of the first to op­er­ate ac­cord­ing to this model.

Jiangsu prov­ince opened a com­pa­ra­ble cen­ter in The Hague last month.

Bei­jing, Shan­dong prov­ince and Sichuan’s pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, Chengdu, are also work­ing to open such over­seas cen­ters.

The first China Cul­tural Cen­ter was es­tab­lished in Mau­ri­tius in 1988. But largescale con­struc­tion only be­gan af­ter 2000, when cul­tural diplo­macy was em­pha­sized as a key item on the coun­try’s agenda.

It seems the mis­sion has not only made great progress but also shows great prom­ise that will man­i­fest in the years to come.

Con­tact the writer at wangkai­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

PHO­TOS PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Top and above left: The “Happy Spring Fes­ti­val” held in Ger­many in Fe­bru­ary fea­tures a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing show­cas­ing of tra­di­tional crafts­man­ship and per­for­mances. Above right: The China Cul­tural Cen­ter in Moscow holds an ex­hi­bi­tion about the his­tory of the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

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