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Overseas cultural centers introduce China to world

By Li Fang (People's Daily)

15:12, October 10, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

Chinese cultural centers across the world held various celebrations during the past weeklong National Day holiday to mark the 62nd birthday of the People's Republic of China.

China established its first batch of overseas cultural centers in Mauritius and Benin in 1988. The country has so far established cultural centers in nine countries and signed formal agreements with more than 20 countries on the establishment of cultural centers. At present, the Chinese government is working to build more cultural centers abroad.

According to the Overseas Chinese Cultural Centers Development Plan, issued by the Ministry of Culture, China will form a relatively complete global network of cultural centers by 2020 to further promote Chinese culture and enhance the role of overseas cultural promotion.

'Qualitative leap' for Chinese culture

According to available statistics, China built eight overseas cultural centers during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2006-2010). The eight centers carried out nearly 3,000 cultural activities and provided Chinese language, martial arts and dance courses to about 30,000 people during the period.

"The cultural centers introduce Chinese culture to local residents and carry out various cultural activities on a regular basis. It is a qualitative leap for promoting Chinese culture abroad," Deputy Minister of Culture Zhao Shaohua said.

Overseas Chinese cultural centers carry out the "Scholarship Tour" activity every year, inviting excellent foreign students and artists to China to enable them to form a deeper understanding of China and Chinese culture. A "Scholarship Tour" participant who takes classes at the Chinese Cultural Center in Berlin said that he enjoyed the activity because it linked the participants with Chinese culture.

Platform to promote local culture abroad

The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and the Chinese Cultural Center in Paris jointly hosted the first Chinese film festival in Paris in early 2011. China’s State Council Information Office has successfully held a photo exhibition at a Chinese cultural center in Germany, which showed the urban landscape of Qingdao. The qigong training classes held by the Chinese Health Qigong Association under the State General Administration of Sport have been well received in Mauritius and Benin.

Shanghai has conducted a series of cultural activities at the Chinese Cultural Center in Paris since the start of 2011. This has not only enabled residents in Paris to have a more vivid and profound impression of Shanghai, but it has also cemented the partnership between Shanghai and Paris's governmental and cultural institutions.

China has conducted deep cultural exchanges with other countries in the world through the platform of overseas Chinese cultural centers. According to incomplete statistics, outstanding Chinese social and scientific experts have delivered about 160 lectures in overseas Chinese cultural centers to a total of more than 12,000 listeners.

Continuing to promote high-level cultural exchanges between states

Chinese Culture Minister Cai Wu said: "One of the keys to promote cultural exchanges between China and foreign countries lies in introducing Chinese culture to the world in a comprehensive rather than partial manner, covering both outstanding traditional culture and booming contemporary culture. Overseas Chinese cultural centers have played increasingly significant roles in implementing China’s overall diplomatic policy over recent years."

Since the beginning of 2010, Chinese cultural centers have offered cooperation to 14 overseas visits of Chinese leaders. Chinese leaders could communicate face to face with all walks of life of the culture centers' residence countries in an environment with dense Chinese cultural atmosphere, and that could show the Chinese government's stances of peace, goodwill, opening and self-confidence and is widely welcomed by the public of the countries being visited.

As China culture centers' influences keep expanding in their residence countries, politicians of the residence countries also attend activities of the centers more frequently. In the past two years, the President of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth, Premier of Mauritius Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Speaker of the National Assembly of Benin Mathurin Nago, former President of France Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former Premier of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin and former Premier of Germany Gerhard Schroeder all attended various activities held in overseas China culture centers.

The President of Mauritius Anerood Jugnauth highly praised the China culture centers, saying that the China culture centers play an important role in spreading Chinese culture in Mauritius. The classes held by the centers, including the Chinese language class, dance class, martial art class and cooking class, have attracted many people of Mauritius to learn about the Chinese culture, and he therefore wants to thank the Chinese government and China culture centers for their contributions to the cultural exchanges between China and Mauritius.

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