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Thursday, August 10, 2000, updated at 20:06(GMT+8)

Erecting a Sino-US Friendship Bridge

Following is a report on the interview between Zhao Qizheng, head of the Information Office of the State Council and Our Staff Reporters Chen Te'an and Shi Xiaohui.

At the time when leaders from various countries are going to gather in New York to attend the grand United Nations millenium meeting, a large-scale China international cultural exchange activity with "approaching China" as the theme will open in the headquarters of the United Nations. Secretary-general of the United Nations Kofi Annan will gladly deliver a congratulatory address at the first concert. Because music, mankind's common language that has no national boundary, can get over the barrier of different beliefs and languages and erect a friendship bridge.

That was the secret divulged by Zhao Qizheng, chairman of the organizing committee for the activity, during the interview. "The 2000 Travel of Chinese Culture to the United States", sponsored by the Information Office and the Ministry of Culture of the State Council, will be held in nine American cities, including New York, Washington and Chicago, this is another large-scale international cultural exchange activity held by the Chinese government, following the '99 Paris China Culture Week.

As regards the special significance of holding such an activity, Zhao said "Sino-US relationship is one of the most important state relations as we are marching toward the 21st century. A sound development of Sino-American ties is of important significance to the two countries and to the world as a whole. To enhance mutual understanding and traditional friendship between the two peoples of China and the United States, it is necessary to present a genuine, brand-new image of China before the American people, Zhao Qizheng said, adding that the contents of this Chinese image include the fact: China is a country with great history and cultural tradition; China is a beautiful country, her culture is rich and landscape is beautiful and unmatched in the world; the Chinese people are fine, industrious, valiant, and hard-working, they are building up their own country; the Chinese people are friendly and kind-hearted, and are peace-loving people. That is the major aim of "the 2000 Travel of Chinese Culture to the United States.

This activity has received the high attention of leaders of China and the United States. Chinese President Jiang Zemin has said history and reality have both proved that strengthening cultural exchanges between peoples of various countries facilitates the development of human civilization. US President Bill Clinton has said art is the common language of mankind, it gives us the strength to surmount the barriers of region and culture. Both President Jiang and President Clinton have written congratulatory messages for the activity. Zhao Qizheng said that the "2000 Travel of Chinese Culture to the United States" from August 24 to September 17 will be opened in the Assembly Hall of the Headquarters of the United Nations and will be ended with the national dance concert in Los Angeles, its scale will far surpass that of last year's "Paris-China Culture Week". Its main contents include: Large-scale exhibition, theatrical performances and speeches. The China Tourism Scenery, the Treasures of Chinese Arts and Crafts and the China Clothing and Adornment Show to be held in New York, all the exhibition halls covering 8,000 square meters will be opened free to the American visitors. These exhibits will introduce to the American people not only China's history and culture, they will all the more display Chinese culture in its present advance toward modernization. The touring performances to be given by the Chinese Central National Music Ensemble and the Jinxiu Chinese National Dance Troupe, centered in New York, will radiate to nine cities, including Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles. The China Central National Music Ensemble, which has twice won brilliant successes in its performances in Vienna, will give its first performances in the Assembly Hall of the Headquarters of the United Nations, and will hold Chinese concerts in inland cities of the United States.

During the period, the speech entitled "Chinese Culture Oriented to the 21st Century" to be given by Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng will deal with the features of socialist culture with Chinese characteristics which the Chinese government and people are now devoting their efforts to its construction. He Guangwei, director of the State Administration of Tourism, will make a speech titled "Chinese Tourism in the 21st Century". The number of foreign tourists hosted by the China tourist department and the amount of foreign exchange it earned from international tourism rank fifth and seventh respectively in the world. At the turn of century, China has set the magnificent goal of making itself a tourist power in the world in a period of 20 years. The speech to be given by Zhao Qizheng is entitled "America and American People in the Eyes of the Chinese". When reporters asked Zhao to disclose part of the content of his speech to be made in the United States, Zhao said he would begin his speech this way: "At first, when the Chinese just knew that on the other shore of the Pacific Ocean there is a country named the United States of America, they gave it the best 'Chinese' name-Mei Guo (beautiful country). In hearing such a good name, a Chinese who does not understand the United States would naturally have good opinion of it. The Chinese know very well George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, as well as the Independence War, the North-South War, the Pearl Harbor Incident and the Americans' contribution in World War II, With the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 1972 Sino-US Shanghai Joint Communique and the American media's obviously partial reports on China after the Cold War, the Chinese view on the United States appeared to be more complex and changeful...."When asked the reason why he chose such a title, Zhao Qizheng answered, "I want to tell the Americans a true story, first, the Chinese government and people are identical in their view about the Americans; second, the Chinese do not generally have the psychology of opposing and nursing hatred for the United States. When the Americans are friendly toward us, the Chinese like the Americans; when they are unfriendly, we are very resentful. We can say that when Chinese culture spread to the United States, the teachings of Confucius had influence on the American writer Walt Whitman. American culture has also entered China, for example, Mark Twain is known to every household. Many lovers of literature know his work for whom the bell sounds. It is from here that the Chinese know the Americans' bravery and adventurous spirit of fighting with nature. As we look forward to the 21st century, the United States before us should be a beautiful country, not "beautiful" imperialism.

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Music, mankind's common language that has no national boundary, can get over the barrier of different beliefs and languages and erect a friendship bridge.

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