SZ plays vibrant role in fostering people-to-people ties

Writer: Cao Zhen  |  Editor: Liu Minxia  |  From: Original  |  Updated: 2024-01-23

(L-R in the stage center) Tenor Jonathan Tetelman, opera singer Angela Gheorghiu and conductor Ciprian Teodorascu gesture after finishing a performance at Shenzhen Concert Hall in September 2023 during the 2023 Shenzhen Belt and Road International Music Festival. Liu Xudong

When a short film and huge posters featuring Shenzhen dance drama “Wing Chun,” Oscar-winner Michelle Yeoh, and lifestyle brand lululemon, are showcased in 680 lululemon stores worldwide and on social media this month, some local expats expressed that it’s a handy way to learn about Chinese culture.

“This is a way to promote martial arts, Chinese culture and the dance to the world,” Duiu Onofrei, a martial art instructor from Romania, said.

“I think it’s very special and important to show to the rest of the world how beautiful the Shenzhen dance drama is,” Colombian singer Shirley Frias Torres said.

The short film shows the allure of traditional Chinese culture to the world after the dance drama made its overseas debut in Singapore last September.

With its Oriental aesthetics, fusion of styles, and a universal theme of “common people can also achieve as heroes,” the dance drama won hearts of both overseas Chinese and foreign audiences in Singapore, amplifying cross-cultural empathy and understanding. Diplomats from Germany, Estonia, and Chile also expressed their anticipation for “Wing Chun” to be staged in their countries.

The audience applauds as performers of Shenzhen dance drama “Wing Chun” express their thanks to the spectators after the show ended at the Esplanade-Theaters on the Bay in Singapore on Sept. 27. Lin Jianping

Art exchanges allow people to experience the cultural richness of other countries firsthand and lead to the establishment of long-lasting connections, transcending geographic boundaries. Since the inception of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, Shenzhen has been an important participant in fostering closer people-to-people ties through various cultural exchanges.

Influential projects

The Shenzhen Belt and Road Music Festival is another momentous endeavor to nurture understanding and friendship through art. Since the festival’s inception in 2017 and through 2019, more than 2,500 musicians from over 60 countries and regions had brought 72 diverse shows and events to the festival.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the BRI last year, the festival presented 54 days of performances by musicians from over 30 countries and regions. “The artists, each representing their distinct culture, inspire each other here, and the festival demonstrates BRI’s extraordinary significance in promoting exchanges,” conductor Ciprian Teodorașcu said at last year’s festival.

The festival has not only enriched Shenzhen’s cultural landscape, but also provided a platform for boosting a sense of global unity and shared appreciation. Gaining coverage from such mainstream media as Xinhua, CNN, and BBC, the festival has become a vital platform for sharing the stories of Shenzhen, Guangdong, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and China with the rest of the world.

Shenzhen’s exchanges with BRI countries have also been underscored at the annual China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair (ICIF). Since 2015, the fair has launched the Belt and Road International Pavilion for cultural trades with the BRI countries.

Last year, 300 overseas exhibitors from over 50 countries and regions were present at the pavilion, which attracted 25,736 overseas buyers and professional visitors from 108 countries and regions.

Exhibitors present their products at the Nepal booth at the Shenzhen World Exhibition and Convention Center, the main venue of the 19th China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair on June 6, 2023. Sun Yuchen

“It’s amazing that you can experience China’s rich culture under one roof; and you can find new things and more business opportunities here,” Sri Lankan businessman Wickramasinghe Arachchilage Weeraratne said at last year’s fair.

Diverse exchanges

Cultural exchanges facilitate mutual learning and bridging differences; educational exchanges play a vital role in shaping a shared future; and tourism exchanges yield mutual economic benefits.

A Nepalese exhibitor (R) shows how to use a singing bowl at the 19th China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair on June 7, 2023. Sun Yuchen

Since 2015, 40 Shenzhen delegations have visited over 30 countries and regions, participating in over 100 Spring Festival events and showcasing Shenzheners’ prowess in music, dance, acrobatics, intangible cultural heritage, and creative culture.

Additionally, Shenzhen has organized the Central and Eastern Europe dance winter camp, African creative industry training, and Arabic artists painting across China, as well as established cooperation with Chinese cultural centers in BRI countries to conduct traditional Chinese art performances and music training.

A Russian visitor (2nd R) learns making pottery at the 12th China (Shenzhen) International Cultural Industries Fair in 2016. Sun Yuchen

Shenzhen’s vocational institutions have also established cooperative relationships with over 60 counterparts in 28 BRI countries, hosting international seminars on BRI vocational education for four consecutive sessions.

Through organizing tourism delegations to countries including Latvia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Czech Republic, Shenzhen has expanded tourism markets.

Signature events such as the Shenzhen Marathon and China Cup Regatta have shown the vibrancy of Shenzhen, while the annual BRI green development short video contest presents a glimpse into the diverse landscapes across BRI countries.

Over the past decade, Shenzhen has enthusiastically engaged in deepening exchanges and collaborations in areas such as infrastructure connectivity, trade facilitation, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds with Belt and Road countries. Shenzhen Daily is presenting a series of reports on the city’s active role in boosting the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative.