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    Chinese culture strikes chords overseas in 2019

    Author  :  LIANG YAN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-01-16

    With the rise of China, the soft power of Chinese culture has been increasingly prominent in the world. Reviewing the overseas spread and influence of Chinese culture in 2019, China makes a strong showing. 

    The Chinese literature, film and TV, music, dance, opera, cultural relics and handicrafts that went abroad this year are full of extraordinary splendor.

    Chinese science fiction, spy novels, martial arts novels, online novels and other contemporary literary works have won a remarkable number of readers in both the English-speaking world and Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The Three-Body Problem, a science fiction novel by Chinese writer Liu Cixin, sold out all 10,000 copies of its first print on its first day on sale in Japan. It was reprinted 10 times within a week for a total of 85,000 copies. The success of Liu’s novels in Japan is not just a fortuitous phenomenon. It indicates that world-influential contemporary Chinese writers and their works are emerging. 

    The Wandering Earth, a domestic sci-fi blockbuster adapted from a novella by Liu, released in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries, has won a high reputation. Many overseas media outlets have spoken highly of this native Chinese sci-fi film, the overseas box office of which totaled nearly $100 million.

    More and more domestic TV series have been staged and become popular overseas. Period dramas, love dramas and family dramas are especially popular among audiences in Southeast Asia, Russia and Africa. The National Radio and Television Administration of China hosted the “2019 Audio-Visual China into Africa” activity and brought Ode to Joy, Feather Fly, Reunion and other Chinese TV series to African audiences. These realist works that reflect the contradictions and dilemmas embedded in contemporary Chinese urban life and fast-paced social development have struck chords there. 

    It is often said that music and dance have no borders. Whether in North America or Africa, Chinese music and dance have been warmly welcomed. Twenty artists from the China Dancers Association, during their visit to Reunion, Mauritius and Seychelles on the African continent, performed The Spirit of Peacock, Chinese Kung Fu, The Imperial Concubine Yang and other works. Chinese classical and national dance’s pursuit of nature, power and beauty has let African people know about the intrinsic charm of Chinese culture. Vice President of Seychelles Vincent Meriton interacted with Chinese dancers, igniting the enthusiastic atmosphere of the scene. The friendship between Chinese and African people was permanently recorded at that moment.

    A type of folk art, Xiangsheng (literally crosstalk, a traditional Chinese comic performance in the form of comic dialogues) also went abroad, which did not come easy. Deyunshe, a Chinese crosstalk organization, for the first time, went to France to perform. The overseas attendance rate at the theatre was quite high. The fact that Chinese Xiangsheng went global is significant. Some say most of the audience was overseas Chinese, but from another perspective, the cultural symbol of Xiangsheng at least soothed the nostalgia of overseas Chinese. Moreover, for those non-Chinese audiences, the ability to understand Xiangsheng means that their Chinese language proficiency has reached a certain level. In this sense, the role that the art of Xiangsheng plays in promoting the international spread of Chinese language is apparent. 

    Li Ziqi, a girl from Sichuan Province, who was awarded as the Cultural Communicator of the Year 2019 by the Chinese News Weekly, described traditional Chinese rural life to the world with diligence and perseverance. Her videos have received more than 7.6 million YouTube subscriptions and tens of millions of clicks. Many foreigners have learned about “interesting and attractive” Chinese culture through her “life record.” She shouldered the heavy burden of life early on and took good care of her grandmother. The skillfulness and tranquility at the time when she worked in the farmland and her persistence in pursuing beauty and hope as she sowed in spring and reaped in autumn indicates Chinese people’s longing for an idyllic life and for attachment to their spiritual homeland.

    The year 2020 has arrived. The Chinese people will continue to embrace the world in their own unique way. It will show to the world a country with not only economic strength, but also spiritual richness, a country that protects its cultural heritage and that has its own unique artistic aesthetics, a country that is both good at interpreting its own culture and capable of integrating itself into the world culture. 

     

    This article was edited and translated from Guangming Daily. Professor Liang Yan is dean of the International Institute of Chinese Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University.

     

     

    (Edited by BAI LE)

    Editor: Yu Hui

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