China, Aus­tralia cel­e­brate cul­tural ties

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By WANG RU wan­[email protected]­

People lis­ten care­fully to the beau­ti­ful mu­sic pro­duced by guqin — a plucked mu­si­cal in­stru­ment that was widely fa­vored by the literati in an­cient times — dur­ing a spe­cial per­for­mance to spread tra­di­tional Chi­nese cul­ture.

The show, held at the Aus­tralian em­bassy in Bei­jing on Dec 5, was part of a news con­fer­ence to cel­e­brate the 40th an­niver­sary of the es­tab­lish­ment of the Aus­tralia-China Coun­cil and the pub­li­ca­tion of a com­mem­o­ra­tive al­bum that looks back at the past 40 years of the plat­form’s work.

China and Aus­tralia built diplo­matic ties in 1972 and, in 1978 the ACC was es­tab­lished to pro­mote co­op­er­a­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween China and Aus­tralia in the fields of art, cul­ture, sports and ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to War­wick Smith, the chair­man of the ACC, “there are so many great stories of these early con­nec­tions be­tween Aus­tralia and China”.

For ex­am­ple, crowds of Aus­tralians waited in line for hours to see the Ter­ra­cotta War­riors when they went on dis­play in Can­berra, Aus­tralia, in 1983. For many, it was their first glimpse of an­cient Chi­nese ar­ti­facts. At that time, the ACC spon­sored a dis­cov­ery of the fu­nera- ry sculp­tures to help pro­mote aware­ness of the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Harold Wel­don, a board mem­ber of the ACC who is also a writer, film­maker and China ad­viser, says his fa­vorite story about the ACC’s work over the past 40 years is re­lated to Chi­nese ac­ro­bat­ics.

“In 1984, the ACC in­vited some Chi­nese ac­ro­bats to come to Aus­tralia. They taught Aus­tralian ac­ro­bats some fan­tas­tic skills like jug­gling, bal­anc­ing and danc­ing. The skills have been passed on, and since then many gen­er­a­tions of Aus­tralian ac­ro­bats be­gin by learning those skills,” says Wel­don.

“Now, there is a fa­mous Aus­tralian circus which of­fers per­for­mances to hun­dreds of thou­sands of people ev­ery year. It all be­gan with the les­sons from those Chi­nese teachers pass­ing on their knowl­edge to Aus­tralians in the 1980s.”

In Septem­ber 1985, three trainees from North­west China’s Gansu prov­ince took part in a 14-month train­ing pro­gram in Aus­tralia. They learned ex­per­i­men­tal tech­niques to im­prove the ef­fi­ciency of sheep farm­ing. The pro­ject also demon­strated how well-ad­min­is­tered and thor­oughly planned train­ing pro­grams in Aus­tralia could be ben­e­fi­cial to Chi­nese in­dus­try.

Other than the ACC story, Wel­don talked about his own story re­lated to China.

He was born in a fam­ily that man­ages Aus­tralia’s largest book pub­lish­ing and me­dia group. He trav­eled to China for the first time in 1985 when his fam­ily wanted to pub­lish some books and photo al­bums to com­mem­o­rate the 50th an­niver­sary of the Long March over 1934-1936. He traced the foot­steps of the Red Army sol­diers and trav­eled to many places in China.

“From then on I fell in love with China. We then did more projects about the coun­try through the 1980s and 1990s, and into the 2000s.”

The ACC has also pub­lished a com­mem­o­ra­tive al­bum that spec­i­fies its work over the years, in­clud­ing his­tory, eco­nomic diplo­macy, arts and cul­ture, ed­u­ca­tion and other fields.

Speak­ing about the fu­ture of the ACC, Wel­don says: “We need to tell our stories to each other to make us more rel­e­vant. It’s a jour­ney that never ends. It’s like an­other Long March.”

Aus­tralian For­eign Min­is­ter Marise Payne says, “The Aus­trali­aChina Coun­cil is a true suc­cess story of sus­tained soft power en­gage­ment over decades and gen­er­a­tions.”

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