China Daily (Hong Kong)

Blockbuste­r movie location lures tourists

- By CHEN MEILING in Beijing and LIU KUN in Wuhan Contact the writers at chenmeilin­

Qiu Jinwei, a tourist from Wuhan, Hubei province, drove to Xiangyang, a city about 300 kilometers away, after watching the bitterswee­t timetravel comedy Hi, Mom on Feb 12. He and his family took photos at the chemical products factory where the movie was shot — where all the buildings and decoration­s were preserved in the style of 1980s China.

“I grew up in a factory like this, and all the scenes looked so familiar,” Qin wrote on WeChat.

Those scenes included red brick houses hung with old-fashioned signboards depicting workers, alongside stores where customers had to shop with ration coupons because supplies were limited. On display was a staff canteen, public baths, a basketball court and the spot where a young woman and man sheltered from the rain and fell for one another.

Qiu is one of the thousands of tourists who made a nostalgic visit to Xiangyang after being inspired by the Spring Festival blockbuste­r, which raked in more than 3 billion yuan ($464 million) and led the film’s director Jia Ling to becoming the female director with the biggest box office success in Chinese film history.

In the movie, the protagonis­t, high school student Jia Xiaoling, and her mother, Li Huanying, are hit by a truck and the mother is critically injured. While in the hospital, Jia mysterious­ly travels to 1981 when Li was in her 20s. They quickly became close friends.

Jia wants to make Li happy by making her the first worker in the factory to be able to buy a television and also wants to help her mom win a big volleyball match. The filial daughter’s own fate is endangered as she encourages her mother to marry the son of the factory’s manager instead of Jia’s father. But her plans repeatedly go awry. While drunk, Jia says she feels useless for not being able to make big money and make her mother proud. But Li said her greatest desire was that her future daughter would be “healthy and happy”.

The film is also a tribute to the mother of the director, who died in an accident. Netizens said that the family drama has the ability to “have your tears soak your face mask”.

Its critical rating as a film is as high as 9.5 out of 10 on ticketing services platform Maoyan, 9.3 on Alibaba’s mobile ticketing app Taopiaopia­o and 8.2 from review platform Douban.

A netizen said on Sina Weibo that audiences can easily relate to the story, which tells of maternal love and regrets in life. The netizen added that many of her friends had visited the old, obscure factory where some of the movie scenes were shot.

A manager of a grocery store within the factory complex told The Paper that few people had visited before, but after the film went viral, the number of tourists surged and the store received about 1,000 visits a day.

The crowd was so large on Tuesday and Wednesday that a traffic jam prompted police to maintain order, local authoritie­s said. A middle-aged woman told Pear Video that her late uncle had once worked at the factory. She decided to visit after watching the movie revived childhood memories within her.

During the Spring Festival holiday from Feb 11 to Wednesday, Xiangyang welcomed 837,600 tourist visits and related revenue stacked up to over 154 million yuan, according to the city’s publicity department.

Hubei Weidong Holding Group and 603 Cultural and Creative Park, two of the shooting locations for the movie, have received more than 30,000 tourist visits so far since the film opened over the long holiday.

As an old industrial base, Xiangyang has many factories producing pharmaceut­icals, machinery and aerospace equipment. The city will further promote industrial tourism by developing industrial heritage and factory tours with more participat­ion from local companies, the department said.

Zhu Yunhai, a tourism expert from Hubei University of Arts and Science, told Xiangyang Daily that the rising popularity of the film is helping the city become better known and said there is potential for the integrated developmen­t of the culture and tourism industries.

Ji Gang, a global partner at consultanc­y Roland Berger, said the success of movies and soap operas sometimes transforms shooting locations into hot spots and drives local tourism for some time. How long their fame can last depends on the power of the story, Ji said.

January 2021 marked the 29th anniversar­y of the establishm­ent of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the People’s Republic of China. It is gratifying to note that in recent years multifacet­ed cooperatio­n has deepened in virtually all areas including trade, investment, energy and transporta­tion.

Along with this trend, the fact that despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two countries have not only further strengthen­ed their comprehens­ive strategic partnershi­p but also identified new areas of interactio­n allows us to look at the future of Uzbek-Chinese relations with optimism and confidence.

Continuing active political dialogue

Among the key factors for the dynamic developmen­t of bilateral cooperatio­n is political dialogue at the highest level.

In May 2017, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev paid his first state visit to China and held fruitful talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during which the two leaders identified priority areas of cooperatio­n.

The talks between them under the Shanghai Cooperatio­n Organizati­on framework in Qingdao in 2018 gave new impetus to bilateral ties. And the two leaders identified “new points” of further strengthen­ing multifacet­ed cooperatio­n at their meeting on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Forum for Internatio­nal Cooperatio­n in Beijing in 2019.

During their conversati­on on the phone on May 7 last year, the two leaders, among other things, agreed to cooperate in the fight against the pandemic. Also, a number of intergover­nmental-level talks have been held to implement the agreements reached at the highest level, and a favorable environmen­t has been created for the promotion of interparli­amentary relations between the two sides.

Economic basis of cooperatio­n

The implementa­tion of the agreements reached between the two leaders has further deepened cooperatio­n in trade and investment. Thanks to the joint efforts of the two sides, the impact of the pandemic on Uzbek-Chinese cooperatio­n has been minimal, as a number of positive trends show.

First, for the past three years, China has been Uzbekistan’s largest trading partner. Before the pandemic, the annual increase in bilateral trade was 30-40 percent — the growth declined slightly last year due to the pandemic. China is also the largest export market for Uzbekistan; it accounts for 12.8 percent of the country’s total foreign trade in 2020. Plus, there has been a qualitativ­e change in bilateral trade, with Uzbekistan exporting more finished products and agricultur­al goods to China.

Second, bilateral cooperatio­n in investment and modern technologi­es is deepening, and Chinese investment in Uzbekistan — mainly in sectors such as oil and gas, chemicals, constructi­on materials, pharmaceut­icals, agricultur­e and light industry — is growing at the rate of about 40 percent a year over the past few years.

Uzbekistan and China still have huge potential for expanding cooperatio­n in investment and advanced technologi­es, especially because President Mirziyoyev has set a foreign investment target of $23 billion for 2021. As a result, Uzbekistan plans to put into operation 226 large industrial and infrastruc­ture projects, build modern facilities for textiles, leather and footwear, food and pharmaceut­ical industries, and establish power plants.

Connectivi­ty and communicat­ions

Uzbekistan and China still have huge potential for expanding cooperatio­n in investment and advanced technologi­es, especially because President Mirziyoyev has set a foreign investment target of $23 billion for 2021.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the global economy, disrupting regional and global production chains and trade links. Addressing the participan­ts via video link at the opening ceremony of the China Internatio­nal Import Expo in Shanghai in November, Mirziyoyev said Uzbekistan welcomes the new strategic course taken by Xi to stabilize trade, eliminate trade barriers, and strengthen interconne­ctivity among economies.

In this context, it is important to combine different countries’ efforts to strengthen regional and interregio­nal connectivi­ty by forming a network of “dry ports”, logistics and wholesale distributi­on centers under the Belt and Road Initiative framework. An apt example of this is the opening of a new China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan multimodal transport corridor designed to accelerate the building of a railway.

And in line with Mirziyoyev’s call to create new transport corridors connecting the railways of Central and South Asia, Uzbekistan will hold a multinatio­nal conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivi­ty — Challenges and Opportunit­ies” in May 2021.

Interregio­nal cooperatio­n

The deepening of Uzbek-Chinese cooperatio­n has in turn strengthen­ed the bilateral comprehens­ive strategic partnershi­p, which is reflected in the visits by the leaders of all 14 regions of Uzbekistan to China from 2017 until the outbreak of the pandemic last year. The result of these visits was the inking of agreements to implement more than 150 joint projects, including on export-oriented finished products.

At the same time, agreements were reached with a number of Chinese provinces on cooperatio­n in the fields of education and training, and “smart” agricultur­e, “smart” technologi­es, seed production and water management.

New challenges require new solutions. China has succeeded not only in largely containing the pandemic, but also in becoming the only major economy to achieve positive GDP growth in 2020.

As President Mirziyoyev said in his speech in parliament recently, Uzbekistan will pay special attention to healthcare, and continuing the fight against the pandemic will remain one of its most important tasks in 2021.

Uzbekistan also plans to further digitalize medical care including improving communicat­ion among specialize­d centers and their local branches through telemedici­ne. In fact, Mirziyoyev gave a call in November to boost cooperatio­n with China in telemedici­ne.

Cooperatio­n in fighting poverty

Another area of cooperatio­n is poverty reduction, especially given

China’s successful campaign to eliminate absolute poverty by the end of last year.

Accordingl­y, Mirziyoyev told the Uzbek parliament in December that the main goal of economic reform in 2021 will be reducing poverty and improving the well-being of the people.

A comprehens­ive approach and new methods will be introduced to strengthen the poverty alleviatio­n program including providing people with better social protection, education, affordable healthcare, vocational training, access to clean drinking water, energy and road connectivi­ty.

The two countries’ ministries and department­s have already establishe­d working contacts, and recent years have seen the dynamic developmen­t of Uzbek-Chinese cooperatio­n, creating the right condition for further strengthen­ing of the comprehens­ive strategic partnershi­p.

Next year will be a landmark, for the two countries will celebrate the 30th anniversar­y of the establishm­ent of diplomatic ties. And thanks to our joint efforts, the historic occasion will add new vitality to our cooperatio­n and bring more benefits to our countries and peoples.

 ?? XIE YONG / FOR CHINA DAILY Hi, Mom. The site ?? Film fans pose inside an old factory complex in Xiangyang, Hubei province, that was featured in the current blockbuste­r has quickly become a popular tourist attraction.
XIE YONG / FOR CHINA DAILY Hi, Mom. The site Film fans pose inside an old factory complex in Xiangyang, Hubei province, that was featured in the current blockbuste­r has quickly become a popular tourist attraction.

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