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China, Thailand enjoy extensive, frequent, high-quality cultural exchanges

By Zhang Chunxiao and Ming Dajun (Xinhua)    13:39, July 21, 2015

BANGKOK, July 21 -- China and Thailand have enjoyed frequent and across-the-board cultural exchanges over the past four decades, with a number of high-quality programs cultivated, a Chinese cultural counselor has commented.

Cultural exchanges between the two countries have developed in a steady and balanced manner since the establishment of their diplomatic ties in 1975, Chen Jiang, cultural counselor of the Chinese embassy in Thailand, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The bilateral cultural exchanges have so far covered artistic performances, exhibitions, book publishing, movies, education, tourism, sports, religion and other areas, Chen said.

The two countries carry out more than 400 cultural exchange programs every year, he said, citing incomplete statistics. "The figure is quite surprising. Globally speaking, only a handful of countries conduct cultural exchanges with China as frequently as Thailand does."

For years, China's Ministry of Culture has held activities celebrating the Spring Festival in around 180 cities of many countries worldwide, and those in Thailand have stood out, the counselor stressed.

As of this year, Spring Festival-themed activities have been held in Thailand for 11 times, attracting a large number of revelers.

Thai Queen Sirikit has attended twice while Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn participates every year, Chen said.

Moreover, top officials from the Thai government, including the prime minister and deputy premiers, are also present at each year' s festivities, he added.

In addition to the Spring Festival carnival, the concert " Thailand and China: Two Lands, One Heart," which was initiated by Thai Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol, is another important China- Thailand cultural exchange program, Chen said.

The concert is held every other year in Thailand and China alternately.

Chen also pointed out that China and Thailand have witnessed increasingly close exchanges in education and tourism in recent years, with China having grown into Thailand's largest source of overseas tourists and students.

Data collected at the end of 2014 showed that more than 20,000 Thai students were studying in China and 32,000 Chinese students in Thailand. Moreover, Thailand is expected to receive at least 7 million tourists from China this year, according to Chen. "During the development of China-Thailand relations, cultural exchanges have helped promote mutual understanding and contacts between the two peoples, reduce misunderstanding, and create motivation and opportunities for economic and trade exchanges," he said.

Chen believes that the fruitful cultural exchanges between the two countries have resulted from a decades-long friendship, geographic proximity, cultural similarities as well as the willingness and capacity on both sides to support such exchanges.

The Thai culture is influenced by the Chinese culture and such influence can be detected in Thai people's daily life, the counselor said.

"For instance, 'Journey to the West' and 'Romance of the Three Kingdoms,' two of China's classic novels, are widely known in Thailand. They even serve as educational tools for some Thai parents. Thais are willing to learn more about the Chinese culture, " he said.

However, it should be noted that China-Thailand cultural exchange is a two-way street, Chen said, underscoring that Thailand is also vigorously promoting its culture in China, featured by its world-famous cuisine, dramas and Muay Thai.

Governmental efforts play a quite significant role in boosting cultural exchanges between the two countries, Chen said, citing a variety of cultural activities hosted by the Thai embassy and the consulates-general in China every year which have attracted a vast number of Chinese participants.

More importantly, he said, more than 90 percent of all cultural exchange programs are carried out by the "zealous and capable" non-governmental sector.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Zhang Qian,Bianji)

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