Feature: Intangible cultural heritage enriches China-U.S. subnational exchanges

By Yang Shilong (Xinhua) 15:04, March 05, 2024

NEW YORK, March 5 (Xinhua) -- In a remarkable act of cultural diplomacy, a series of events showcasing the rich heritage of Henan Province, a central region of China celebrated for its deep historical and cultural significance, captivated audiences in New York City and Philadelphia.

Last Thursday, the Chinese Consulate General in New York was transformed into a vibrant epicenter of arts and traditions, displaying the ancient crafts of paper-cutting and dough sculpture, the disciplined elegance of martial arts, and the emotive allure of Henan Opera. These exhibitions drew an enthusiastic response from a diverse audience.

One of the event's highlights was when Yuan Shengke, a master of Chinese paper-cutting, created silhouettes of guest speakers David Adelman, a board officer of the U.S.-China Green Institute, and Jessica Bissett, senior director at the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. Yuan captured their likenesses with astonishing speed and accuracy.

"His abilities are amazing. I can't believe he made this in just two minutes while I was speaking. It looks a lot like me," said Bissett, expressing her amazement at Yuan's skill.

The New York Shaolin Temple Kung Fu Center, led by Master Lan Chaohai, further enhanced the spectacle with an artful demonstration of Shaolin, a symbol of Henan's martial legacy.

Chen Daoyong, a master of dough sculpture, demonstrated the 2,000-year-old folk art by turning simple dough into intricate, colorful figures that narrate tales of heroes, deities, and daily life in ancient China.

Adding to the cultural feast was an intriguing performance of an excerpt from the renowned Henan opera Hua Mulan, celebrated for its expressive storytelling, elaborate costumes, and unique musical styles. This performance wowed attendees, further showcasing Henan's diverse culture and its contributions to the performing arts.

Driving home the importance of these subnational exchanges, Adelman, who has visited China numerous times since 1987, called for enhancing partnerships at the state and provincial level, particularly through people-to-people connections.

"The states in the U.S. are looking for business (in China), and increasingly, Chinese businesses are looking for opportunities in the West. It's a good partnership, mutually beneficial," he told Xinhua.

"China has an interest in American success, and America has an interest in China's success. It should be perfect," he said, pointing out the wide-ranging eagerness within the United States to engage with China, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, the agricultural centers in America's heartland, and Wall Street.

Bissett added a forward-looking perspective on the role of youth and subnational initiatives in enhancing U.S.-China cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

"There'll be a lot of Chinese delegations from various cities coming to the United States in the next few months," said Bissett. "I hope that these delegations can help further encourage an increase in people-to-people exchange and help Americans better understand various regions of China."

She emphasized the need for the two countries' younger generation to step up and take an active role in this endeavor. "And that's why we're here today. We look forward to playing more of an engaged role in the future."

The ongoing Philadelphia Flower Show, which runs until March 10, has also witnessed subnational exchanges between China and the United States.

Zhengzhou, the capital city of China's Henan Province, made its debut at this show by presenting a floral exhibition that showcases the charm of its culture.

The exhibition has drawn inspirations from Zhengzhou's famed Songshan Mountain, known for its stunning natural and cultural heritage. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of Songshan Mountain and Zhengzhou's city flower, the Chinese rose.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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