In November 2016, Mr. Stefan Skjaldarson, the Icelandic ambassador to China arrived in Wuhan and visited the city mayor Wan Yong. When they met for the first time, Mr. Stefan Skjaldarson presented Wan Yong a well-prepared gift— a book entitled A Date with the Northern Lights written by Yu Xi, which specially described Icelandic customs. Surprisingly, without prior consultation Wan Yong gifted Mr. Stefan Skjaldarson with a book entitled Explorations of Sister Cities— also written by Yu Xi—in which one article introduces the city Kópavogur in Iceland.
Who is Yu Xi? How is his writing prowess great enough that it
2016 年 11月，冰岛驻华大使司迪方造访武汉，并会见武汉市长万勇。初次见面，大使拿出精心准备的见面礼——一本来自武汉人余熙所著、专门讲述冰岛风情的《约会极地之缘》。让人惊讶的一幕出现了：在没有事先约定的情况下，万勇拿出的见面礼竟也是余熙的著作《余熙探友城》，其中，有一篇文章则是介绍冰岛的科波沃市。
was his books that were chosen by both sides as gifts in a first diplomatic encounter? Actually, he works as a journalist of Changjiang Daily, and is a two-time China News Award winner. In his office located in the ninth floor of the newspaper building, a world map hangs on the wall with different kinds of newspaper clippings and books stored neatly in the bookshelf nearby, all of which has demonstrated Yu Xi’s achievements as a cultural messenger in the past few decades.
As a writer, he has published 26 books in both Chinese and foreign languages. As a painter and a photographer, he has held 37 personal photographic art exhibitions in China, Europe and America, and his collections of personal photography albums have been published. Furthermore, he is an orator, who has delivered more than 100 speeches for a variety of topics in more than 60 countries all over the world. Obviously, he is the remarkable cultural exchange activist between China and foreign countries, who has interviewed more than 50 foreign leaders and over 100 foreign ambassadors to China.
He has done it all for a simple reason: promoting bilateral understanding between the world and China. In August 1991, Yu Xi held an exhibition in Switzerland and over 100 paintings were snapped up in only a few days. With a great sense of delight, Yu Xi felt the Swiss people’s love and curiosity about China and Chinese culture. “Many people then asked me whether Chinese women still practice foot binding, or if my father’s generation had still kept their braids?” Many foreigners had rather dated and stereotypical impressions of China from the old Qing dynasty, which was both astonishing and disquieting, and so he was desperate to broaden westerners’ knowledge of contemporary China.
Therefore, Yu Xi made a proposal to Swiss Rotary Club to arrange a special lecture for him to introduce China. The sponsor accepted with great pleasure. Thus, Yu Xi delivered his first overseas lecture entitled China’s Contemporary Culture & Arts in Olten, Switzerland. Yu Xi’s speech about Chinese culture and social status seemed to open a window for people to understand China, which was warmly welcomed by local citizens.
Since then, Yu Xi visited more than 60 countries in a row, including France, Germany, the United States and Bulgaria. He introduced Chinese culture to the world by giving a voice to a variety of Chinese imagery like, painting, calligraphy, photography and lectures.
In 2005 Yu Xi visited Iceland at his own expense, and was honored to be a visitor to the presidential mansion of Mr. Olafur Grimsson, the then- president of Iceland. In their conversations, he was surprised to know that there had never been a cultural exchange event with any Chinese literary and art
他做的所有这些，都是为了一个简单的目的：让世界了解中国。而这一初衷，源于 1991 年。
organizations since China established diplomatic relations with Iceland more than 30 years ago. The president told him, the high expense of international travel was the biggest obstacle, to which Yu Xi retorted persuasively that holding a Chinese cultural event in Iceland would be of great benefit. He narrated lively stories of Chinese cultural arts, including Beijing opera, acrobatics, Chinese folk music and ink-wash paintings, saturating the elegant Nordic study where they sat with the hues and colors of classical Chinese cultural fare. The President sat there fascinated and wholly absorbed by the tales.
After four years of preparations, the
First Sino-Icelandic Cultural Festival was successfully held in Kópavogur, Iceland on September 29, 2009. During the two months, nearly 100 Chinese artists showed the “magic” of Chinese culture to the people of Iceland with a Chinese “voice” that resounded throughout Iceland.
To further understanding of China, Yu Xi devoted himself in amplifying the Chinese voice so that it can be heard world-wide and expanding cultural exchanges with other countries in the following years. The distinguished politicians whose names have graced Yu Xi’s honored list of interviews include former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, former French President Sarkozy, Russian President Vladamir Putin, South African President Jacob Zuma, former Australian President John Howard, former US President George W. Bush, former South Korean President Kim Dae- jung, former Canadian Prime Minister Chretien and former Singapore’s Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Consequently, some have praised him as “the people’s diplomat,” or “China’s Marco Polo.” For those honors, Yu Xi modestly replies that he is just doing what any good Chinese citizens should do. He prefers to consider himself a messenger of Chinese and foreign culture, a cultural diplomat spreading universal values and the glory and grandeur of Chinese culture to the world in a very humanitarian way, while introducing sophisticated foreign culture to China.
● Yu Xi's photographic work余熙摄影作品
● In Nov. 2013, Mr. Tommiichi Murayama, the former Prime Minister of Japan, presented his new book to Mr. Yu Xi. Photo by Zhou Jianwen 2013 年 11月，日本前首相村山富市（右）向余熙赠书 周健文摄
● On Oct. 28,2008, Mr.Yu Xi interviewed Mr.Purvanov (left), then president of Bulgaria, in Beijing. 2008年10月28日，余熙在北京采访时任保加利亚总统珀尔瓦诺夫（左）
● A watercolor painting by Yu Xi余熙创作的水彩画