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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 11:11, December 21, 2004
Culture Minister on China's foreign exchange
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Photo:Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng
Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng
2004 is the year when China's foreign exchanges are in full swing.

The cultural diplomacy, along with the political diplomacy and economic diplomacy, are regarded as three pillars for the Chinese diplomacy. It is an important component of the overall strategy of diplomacy.

As communications of human souls and emotions, the cultural exchange, as a type of "soft strength", is irreplaceable by communications of other types.

The Chinese culture is to "go abroad" by insisting the government as a leading force encourage cultural enterprises to operate in accordance with international common practice.

The year of 2004 is ending soon. As the time to ring out the old year and ring in a new year, the Chinese Minister of Culture, Sun Jiazheng agreeably has an interview with a PD's journalist, in which he summarizes and reviews China's substantial fruits in cultural exchanges and plans for the future.

J: China's foreign cultural exchanges have been in full swing in 2004. Please review and summarize these activities.

Sun: China has successfully held a number of large and influential activities. The first phase of "Chinese Culture Year" concluded in France this July. Featuring large scale with deep influence and high standards, the "Chinese Culture Year", led by the Ministry of Culture and cosponsored by 17 ministries and commissions, is the pioneering work in the history of Sino-European culture exchanges. It is of paramount importance in erecting a good image of China internationally and promoting the development of strategic partnership between China and France.

To consolidate friendly cooperation between China and African countries, a series of cultural exchange activities have been organized this year. The "Africa Theme Year" was very popular. "Meeting in Beijing" invited art troupes from nine African counties to participate. The 7-month-long "Chinese culture's tour in Africa" covers 22 African countries. The activities have promoted friendly cooperation between China and Africa and promoted mutual understanding.

In order to boost friendly cooperation and enhance relations between neighbors, China has hosted the 6th Asia Arts Festival, in which near 1, 000 artists from 17 Asian countries participated, attracting nearly 500, 000 spectators. It is the largest Asian art festival ever held.

In addition, China has successfully held the seventh annual ministerial meeting of the International Network on Cultural Policy, which has actively pushed forward the making of "Convention on protection of cultural and artistic diversity'' and issued "Shanghai Declaration''.

This year, we have also promoted the Chinese New Year Activities in New York, London, Bangkok, Paris and Sydney and made the Chinese New Year enter into households overseas. At the 55th anniversary of PR China, the Ministry of Culture held exhibitions, displays around the world. A series of activities including speeches, knowledge contests, and TV weeks were organized with the help of Chinese embassies´┐Ż´┐Żconsulates and overseas cultural centers.

J: The cultural diplomacy, along with economic and political diplomacy, has become a component for Chinese diplomacy. How does the cultural diplomacy serve the Chinese diplomatic work?

The fundamental interests of the country are basis for carrying out cultural diplomacy. The new collective leadership of the CPC headed by Comrade Hu Jintao has elevated the diplomatic function of culture to a position that can't be replaced. It serves as a significant component of the overall strategy of diplomacy.

Cultural diplomacy has created a good atmosphere for Chinese overall diplomacy and played an important role in promoting bilateral ties. It has played a unique role in the exchanges of Chinese leaders with their foreign counterparts; it promotes trustiness and alleviates doubts when developing relations with neighboring countries; the "long-lasting and nonstop" cultural diplomacy is crucial for stabilizing, consolidating and developing the relations with the developing countries; it serves to win people's hearts and promote government exchanges with countries that have not established diplomatic relations with China.

Culture is soft but powerful because its essence is like water. It can exert a subtle influence on people. The cultural exchanges are that of souls and emotions. It is irreplaceable by communications of other types. Under the economic globalization, cultural exchange plays an increasingly important role in international relations. The countries in the world, especially the western powers attach importance to demonstrating their own culture through cultural means, publicizing their values, and enhancing the country's influence. Therefore it is an obligation as well as a mission to promote cultural exchanges and cooperation and throw oneself into the international cultural exchanges.

J: How do the foreign cultural exchanges promote China's cultural productivity and overall prosperity of the cultural undertaking? What experiences are worth learning in foreign cultural system?

Sun: Exchange is a two-way process. Since the reform and opening up, we have introduced a number of world-class art works to China, for example, Italian operas, music opera of the Broadway, Russian ballet and circus, Germany's symphony, French painting exhibitions and other culture and arts full of the ethnic characteristics of the world. The Chinese public will be able to enjoy masterpieces of foreign countries without going abroad. In this way the taste of the people keeps on improving, the visions of the art workers broaden, and the friendly cooperation with other countries is strengthened.

Chinese culture must adhere to its own road. In the meantime, it must open to the outside world so as to learn other's strong points. This will exert a positive influence on the development of Chinese culture and will enrich our arts. China's exhibition and performance market have been developed and improved in the course as well. A group of companies with strong social and economic benefits have come into being. They form a network and basic infrastructure for foreign performance market. Commercial operations have taken on stronger vitality.

J: Do we have a long-term plan for the Chinese culture to go to the world?

Sun: This is a whole plan that involves many departments. As for the Ministry of Culture, on one hand the government's drive is still the leading force in the course; on the other hand, we encourage nongovernmental exchanges and market operations and will turn them into a main body for China's foreign cultural exchanges. The government encourages cultural enterprises to go to the world via market operation by giving them support in policy. We believe through the above measures, a situation that will facilitate the Chinese culture to go to the world will be created.

J: Please talk about the idea and plan for the foreign cultural exchanges in the future.

Sun: We will launch some influential projects in accordance with situation and work needs. For example, in coordination of important diplomatic activities, we will arrange high-level cultural activities and create a good cultural atmosphere; select some influential countries when organizing comprehensive activities including culture year, culture week, and culture day.

Second, we will continue to maintain stable cultural exchanges with countries around the world. The government will boost operation of projects by singing plans on cultural exchanges. The government will continue to support the nongovernmental cultural exchanges, and encourage the promotion of Chinese cultural products to international market through commercial channels.

Third, work should be well done in the construction and development of overseas cultural centers. With the inauguration of Chinese culture centers in Valletta, Paris, Cairo, Seoul, cultural centers have become an important way for foreigners to know China. China plans to open cultural centers in 20 to 25 countries in next 5 to ten years.

Fourth, continue to promote and construct key cultural brands. The spring festival and national day holiday have been seen good effects abroad in these years. In the future we will keep this trend. A series of international cultural festivals held in China have become renowned brands, such as Asian Arts Festival, Shanghai International Arts Festival, Beijing International Music Festival, China Wuqiao Aerobatics Festival, Guangxi Folk Songs Festival, Wuhan International Aerobatics Festival. China will strive to become the center of Asian cultural activities and one of the major centers in the world.

Fifth, actively take part in multilateral international cultural activities; further strengthen relations and co-operations with important international organizations like UNESCO, World Intellectual Property Organization and Asia-Europe Foundations, publicize the foreign policy of "peace, development, and cooperation", expand room for foreign-oriented cultural work. Take part in multilateral activities organized by UNESCO and World Intellectual Property Organizations, especially summit to exert influence on the making of cultural policies, promote diversified development of world culture and create a good international environment for China's socialist construction.

By People's Daily Online

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