Together, We are a Colourful World
On the afternoon of October 25, 2018, the third “Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road” event was launched at the China International Exhibition Centre's A8 Hall in Beijing.
As an important part of the 13th China Beijing International Cultural & Creative Industry Expo (ICCIE), the “Colourful World” event was hosted by Beijing This Month Publications and the Beijing Foreign Cultural Exchange Center to enhance exchange between China's capital city and countries along the Belt and Road, promote the cultures of various countries and strengthen bonds and friendship. The event has gained strong support from the Information Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Beijing Sub-council.
Friendship can derive from close contact between people and can be the key to sound state-to-state relations. Various cultures and cultural heritage have given rise to multiculturalism. As international exchanges deepen, people have gained an enhanced understanding of each other and created a more colourful world through cultural interaction. We are surrounded by this colourful world.
During the four-day event, embassies from 40 countries, such as Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Romania and Ethiopia, presented aspects of their cultures to attendees of the expo. These embassies, students from international schools in Beijing, social groups and educational institutions staged impressive and sometimes interactive performances.
The cultural exhibitions, songs and dances were an international, cultural feast and platform to gain more understanding about China and other countries around world. People were able to get hands-on experience of vastly different cultures and their charms.
Cultural Connectivity Friendship along the Belt and Road
The “Colourful World” event echoes the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The exhibitions and performances of the various countries involved transformed the stage into a conglomeration of diverse art forms, cultures, cross-border friendship and functioned as a platform to create mutual benefit and seek common prosperity. People representing many different cultures from countries along the Belt and Road created a harmonious event. The concept of creating a global community of people working together to realise their dreams for a shared, prosperous future was promoted. Together we are the colourful world!
At 3 p.m. on October 25, the third “Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road” event began. Ambassadors from the Algeria, the Republic of Guyana, Nepal and Uruguay embassies touched a dazzling ball at the opening ceremony to indicate the official beginning of the “Colourful World” event.
Algeria has participated in the event every year so far. It is committed to supporting cultural activities under the BRI. There is a traditional friendship between Algeria and China. A cultural action plan has also been signed by the Prime Minister of Algeria during a visit to China in April 2015. The Algerian Embassy enjoys participating in the “Colourful World” event each year.
Ambassador of Algeria to China Ahcene Boukhelfa stated the following in a speech: “China is the cradle of one of the oldest civilisations in human history, and its material and intangible heritage are treasures that represent the richness and cultural diversity of this great nation. Chinese languages, literature, architectural heritage, music and dance, martial arts, cuisines, philosophy, etiquette and religions are part of humanity's overall heritage and not just that of China and Asia. Trade in the past conducted via the Silk Road has contributed to cultural exchanges between China and the rest of the world. The BRI launched by President Xi Jinping has carried on in this tradition to strengthen the cultural and popular relations between China and foreign countries. Several activities and projects have been concretised in recent years to enhance the human dimension of the BRI in the areas of culture, tourism, media and education. There is a traditional friendship between Algeria and China. Our country has been involved in supporting the cultural activities organised under
the BRI in accordance with the Cultural Action Plan signed on April 2015 on the occasion of the visit of the Algerian Prime Minister to China. The Embassy of Algeria has participated in the first two editions of the ‘Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road' event, which were held in October 2016 and September 2017, respectively, and now participates in the third iteration of the event. The aim of the BRI to build ‘a community of shared destiny for mankind.' This correlates with the concept of ‘living together in peace,' which was proposed by Algeria to the UN General Assembly on December 2017. It unanimously approved the proposal of Algeria to designate May 16 as an international day representing ‘living together in peace.' Algeria is available to examine initiatives that may be included in this framework to promote Algerian culture in China and consolidate the understanding and exchanges between the Algerian and the Chinese peoples as well as with other peoples in the world. Algerian culture is rich, varied and very old. Every region, city and oasis constitutes a particular cultural space. The diversity of Algerian languages, literature, traditions, religious practices, folklore, festivals, cuisine, music, dance, crafts, arts, jewellery, cinema and so on reflects the Berber roots of the country, its Arab-muslim components, its African depth and its Mediterranean environment. Algeria and China are determined to further strengthen and diversify their cultural cooperation in accordance with the instructions of the leaders of the two countries. On December 20, 2018, Algeria and China celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. They will conduct a rich cultural exchange programme to celebrate and observe this happy memory.”
Visitors at the expo also had a chance to learn about the culture of Guyana. Although most of Guyana is in the Amazon rainforest belt of South America, the mainstream culture of Guyana is still deeply influenced by the culture of the Caribbean area. Guyanese ancestors came from four continents: Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are its three major religions and have flourished and coexisted in harmony in the country. Its rich costumes, cuisine, art, festivals and traditions are truly eye-catching.
Ambassador of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to China Bayney Karran stated the following in his speech: “The culture of each individual lies at the core of their being. Our collective beliefs and practices shape our individual perspectives, give our communities a common identity, and give our societies cohesion and a common purpose. The immense diversity and richness of the cultures of the world is an essential feature of civilisation and is one of the most profound accomplishments of our species. It can be said that the appreciation of the culture of others is an important step on the path to global stability and sustainable development. Building cross-cultural bridges can lead to better understanding, greater tolerance and stronger unity among the countries and peoples of the world. It follows, therefore, that appreciation for other cultures is a prerequisite for international stability, peace and development. With this in mind, the Embassy of Guyana is delighted to be a part of the third ‘Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road' event to promote friendship, goodwill and understanding and to express our desire for a better future for all.”
Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Nepal Sushil K Lamsal stated the following in his speech: “I fondly recall last year's exhibition which I had the opportunity to attend. As one of the first events I attended after arriving in Beijing, it was an exciting experience and helped me get a good glimpse of the world around us. Beijing magazine remains a vivid window to the many charms of the city. I would like to express my sincere congratulations for hosting this imaginative event bringing together vignettes of cultures from around the world in one place. These kinds of efforts will no doubt strengthen cooperation between China and other countries around the world by advancing cross-cultural communication and cultural exchanges. Since the initiation of the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, cultural exchanges between China and other countries have flourished in multiple sectors. As a close neighbour of China and a partner of the Belt and Road Initiative, Nepal looks forward to developing even greater interpersonal relations between the two countries and working together for mutual benefit. Over the past several years, the number of Nepali students studying in China is increasing, as is the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal.
For example, in the first half of 2018, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal increased by more than 35 percent compared to the same period in the previous year. This is a good indicator of our growing interpersonal relations, and we should keep up this momentum. Cultural exchanges between Nepal and China have gone on for centuries. Chinese monks and scholars made pilgrimages to Nepal during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618–907), and Nepali artistes in China made contributions during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). The famous Nepali artist Anige built the famous White Pagoda in China in the 13th century and remains an immortal symbol of NepalChina friendship and cultural dialogue to this day. There are enormous possibilities in other areas of people-to-people exchanges where our two countries can work together in addition to cultural exchanges. Nepal is a top destination for tourists worldwide. Just a few days ago, Lonely Planet included the Kathmandu Valley in its Best in Travel 2019 list. As I mentioned before, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal is increasing but is probably not commensurate to the size of the outbound tourists from China. Our two countries should work together to enhance people-to-people relations for win-win outcomes.”
Ambassador of Uruguay to China Fernando Lugris stated the following in his speech: “It is a great honour for me as ambassador of Uruguay to be here today to present the culture of my country in the framework of celebrations associated with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Uruguay and the incorporation of Uruguay into the Belt and Road Initiative. 2018 is the second year that Uruguay has engaged in a strategic partnership with China, which was developed in October 2016 on the occasion of a visit from Uruguayan President Tabaré Vázquez. The strategic partnership has dramatically changed diplomatic relations between China and our country. They have been diversified to give more attention to cultural exchanges, which are fundamental for understanding other groups of people. Uruguay has had successes in its cultural industries and has a lot to offer China and the world. Uruguay has historically been characterised by important developments in the arts. Several factors have contributed to this, such as the achievement of early stability in government and the consolidation of a strong middle class. These factors have traditionally stimulated a high consumption of cultural goods, allowing Uruguay to position itself as an important centre of consumption, stimulation and dissemination of the arts. Currently, cultural activity in Uruguay accounts for almost 1 percent of our gross domestic product. There are also various opportunities for free training in various artistic disciplines, which supports the development of creative industries. Regarding the cultural exchanges with China, China's vice minister
of culture was the first high level authority to visit Uruguay during the beginning of the implementation of our strategic partnership. On the occasion of his visit, a cultural strengthening agreement between the two countries was signed that established clear cooperation and reinforced the Executive Plan for Cooperation in the field of Culture that exists between Uruguay and China for the 2016–2020 period. Further exchanges were completed regarding the presence of artists, athletes and authorities in the cultural promotion of Uruguay in China.
It is our intention to continue working to promote the culture of our country in China in order to deepen cultural exchanges between both countries and to be able to count on the support of publishers, investors, institutions and Chinese companies to deepen cultural exchange between China and Uruguay. This will continue to diversify, amplify and stimulate a cultural relationship at all levels.”
The Silk Road originated in ancient China. It branched out into the Silk Road on land and the Maritime Silk Road on the seas. It was a trade route connecting Asia, Africa and Europe and an artery for economic and political links between the East and the West. Over the past 2,000 years, people from countries along the Silk Road have shared the natural resources; developed their economies, culture and arts in an integrated fashion; jointly created brilliant cultural heritage and developed friendly exchanges over time. This legacy extends into the present day and lends its wisdom. The BRI provides an opportunity and new momentum for various groups of people to communicate with each other, seek cultural integration, realise dreams and create prosperity together.
The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade Beijing Sub-council's Vice President Li Luxia stated: “Beijing is a national cultural centre, an international exchange centre and has been active in carrying out this great initiative. Beijing is a grand platform for international exchange and an important city for cultural creativity and integration. The initiative is also a winwin platform for people to work together and seek common cultural ground. Beijing hosts events like Colourful World to provide a stage for Belt and Road countries to present the cultures that they are proud of, give people hands-on experience of the colourful world we are living in, give full play to the diversity of cultures in our world and display the charm of Beijing as an international hub and thriving metropolis.”
Li continued: “The ‘Colourful World' event is a dialogue of civilisations, a showcase of interpersonal connectivity between people from countries along the Belt and Road, and a stage for world cultural exchanges and exhibitions. We speak different languages, but we have a common wish. Together, we are a colourful world.”
Three Years of Effort A Feast of Cultures
It is evident that the third “Colourful World” event has become an international platform for the countries along Belt and Road to showcase their cultures and an important channel for communication and exchange between China and other countries. Promotions of different nations, fashion shows, cultural performances and booth displays have become the featured activities of the “Colourful World.” This feast of cultures has won support from embassies and favour from visitors.
Various exhibitions and wonderful cultural exchange activities have made the event a blockbuster since its first iteration in 2016, with programmes such as culture exhibitions held by countries along the Belt and Road, “Foreign Cartoonists Focusing on Beijing” exhibition and performances staged by overseas students in Beijing. Unique exhibitions covering styles, ethnic customs and people's lives were displayed. Exquisite works displayed by the ten top cartoonists from seven countries highlighted the artistic atmosphere of Beijing. More than ten embassies in Beijing participated during the first year, including the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Cameroon, the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Maldives, the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, the Republic of Namibia, the Russian Federation and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. Their staff members communicated face-to-face with visitors and promoted their culture and tourism resources, unique ethnic customs and local charm.
In 2017, the second “Colourful World” event arrived as expected. Embassies and students from international schools in
Beijing staged eye-catching performances, representing the cultures of 40 countries along Belt and Road during the threeday event. Colourful activities, passionate dances, fascinating exotic and other offerings music made the “Colourful World” stage one of the most popular destinations during the 12th ICCIE.
Countries including Lesotho, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Croatia presented their countries' richness, beauty, folklore and culture by making use of limited stage time.
The staff of the Tourism Office of the Hungarian Embassy in China led its audience on a “tour to Hungary” through a touching speech. The beautiful night view of its capital of Budapest, special Tokaji noble wine and scenic spots such as Europe's largest natural hot spring lake in Hevis and other beautiful scenery were described and depicted. Its capital of Bucharest is known as the “Paris of Eastern Europe” and lies along the Danube River. The diplomat of culture, education and media affairs at the Serbian Embassy in China provided information about the country's magnificent canyons, forests and hot springs, historical cultures, and the robust cultural and creative industries of this ancient and modern country, perfectly integrating tradition and modern elements. Rwanda brought wonderful photos for the audience of wild African animals, such as elephants and giraffes roaming on the grasslands; world-renowned Arabica coffee with the fragrance of fruits and grass; intimate interaction between people and chimpanzees in the jungle; hospitable local people singing and dancing; and so on.
Clothing is part of the vivid manifestation of human culture. A fashion show displaying the national dress of various countries was another highlight of the second “Colourful World” event. The show was co-staged by representatives from Ethiopia, Hungary, Peru, Lithuania, Romania, Sudan, Belarus, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ghana and Russia.
Dance is one of the earliest art forms in human history and played an important role in ritual celebrations before the agrarian revolution. Dances from around the world are a direct manifestation of the customs, social features, cultural traditions and national characters of various ethnic groups. The various dance performances at the second “Colourful World” attracted many viewers and are one of the best carriers of exotic cultures. Musicians from different countries and regions played music of various styles and in various forms. Songs that are well known around the world were performed, as well as rare folk music. Though sometimes varying significantly in style, all of the music moved the audience, echoing the fact that music is a universal language.
Students from international schools in Beijing also presented wonderful performances. A comedic performance delivered by Zhang Xiaohua Art Life was well received.
In the past three years, the “Beijing Salon • Experience Beijing” event has become an important platform for foreigners in Beijing to experience and learn more about Beijing and Chinese culture. It staged Kunqu Opera-related events during the second “Colourful World” event. Peter from Rwanda tried on an opera costume and was reluctant to leave the stage. He later said: “I had great fun. I can dance and enjoy Chinese culture. I have been in Beijing for two years, but it is the first time I have had contact with Kunqu Opera. It is fresh and exciting for me. I am looking forward to participating in the next event.”
2018 marks five years since General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the BRI and the third consecutive year that the “Colourful World—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road” event has been held. This cultural feast has become more and more international and diversified. The event has made a great impact every year, become an important part of cultural exchanges and an important platform for win-win cooperation between countries regarding culture, economics, tourism and investment.
A Variety of Styles Before Your Very Eyes
During the third “Colourful World” event, the embassies of Egypt, Belarus, Peru, Benin, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Sri
Lanka, Cuba, Turkey, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Romania and other countries introduced aspects related to tourism and investment in their respective countries. The different cultures of each country were displayed on the big screen, imprinting themselves in the audience's hearts.
When you think of Egypt, do you only think of the pyramids? In fact, although these ancient structures are the most symbolic cultural legacy in the country, Egypt also boasts numerous other cultural treasures and natural scenery, as well as being one of the four great ancient civilisations.
Shen Yusi, a staff member from the Science, Culture and Education Department at the Egyptian Embassy in China, showed a series of slides whilst introducing: “Egypt has hundreds of pyramids, but the most famous are the Giza Pyramids in Cairo… The city of Alexandria gets its name from the king of Greek and Macedon, Alexander the Great, who conquered Egypt.”
Sheng Yusi began his introduction with Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and continued to introduce this mysterious and ancient country. Next, he took the audience on a “tour” of the Abu Simbel, Karnak and Luxor temples, and their exquisite religious art. During his 2016 visit to Egypt, President Xi Jinping spoke at the Luxor Temple complex, a place where Egyptian, Christian and Muslim religious buildings stand in harmony. The Karnak Temple is by far the country's best-preserved, largest and oldest temple complex, and featured in the famous 1978 film Death on the Nile. Next came a relaxing tour of the River Nile, with boats, Sufi dances and Egyptian cuisine. Besides historical sites, Egypt is also blessed with beautiful natural scenery. Sharm El Sheikh is the country's most famous holiday resort. It lies on the Red Sea and is a paradise for diving. Hundreds of species of tropical fish and bizarre-looking coral reefs are in the area. In the Siwa Oasis in western Egypt, adjacent to the Sahara desert, there are freshwater and salt lakes and hundreds of springs. In the desert, visitors can visit the dunes and enjoy the star-filled night sky. In his presentation, Cheng Yusi emphasised: “It is far more beautiful in real life.”
After learning about the mysteries of Egypt, the audience was presented with another historic country, That country was Peru. The world's longest mountain range, the Andes, runs through the country, and the world's largest river, the Amazon, originates in the mountains of the central Peruvian plateau. There are many stories hidden in the vast land of Peru.
The country is located in western South America and covers an area of 1,285,216 sq.km and its coastline stretches 2,254 km. It is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia in the north, Brazil in the east, Chile in the south, Bolivia in the southeast and the Pacific Ocean in the west. Peru is one of the world's ancient civilisations, with some of the oldest cities in the Americas and advanced metallurgy. There are more than 60 languages spoken in Peru, including Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages. Peru, like China, has 56 ethnic groups all with different customs and cultures. The capital city of Lima is the only capital in the world situated by the sea. It combines modernity and culture, making it the first choice for travellers to the country. The country's northern beaches have a thousand years of culture, its southern beaches are renowned for their beauty and the Nazca Lines are a famous tourist attraction. The city of Cusco is also a popular attraction. It is located at an altitude of 3,410 m and known as the “Jewel in the Crown of the Andes” and the “Cradle of Ancient Inca Culture.” The Amazon rainforest is the largest of its kind in the world. In Peru, visitors can explore the unique plants and animals and even take a boat down the river.
Stepping out of the rainforest and into the beautiful Indian Ocean, we arrive at Sri Lanka. The country was recently voted as one of the best countries in the world to visit by Lonely Planet. The national symbol of Sri Lanka is the Lion Flag. The image depicts the location of the country's islands in the Indian Ocean.
According to its introduction, there are many reasons Sri Lanka has become a popular tourist destination. The country has a tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons. The dry season can be very hot, although it is relatively cool in the mountains, especially in Naula, where the
Distinguished guests participating in the Opening Ceremony of the third ‘‘Colourful World’’—cultural Exhibition of Countries along the Belt and Road” event
A staff member from the Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt introducing the country’s tourism resources
Programmes featuring traditional Chinese culture presented by young performers
Sichuan Opera’s bianlian (“face-changing effect”)
A presentation of traditional Russian clothing