Asia-Europe Meeting Discusses The “Hard Sell” Of Chinese “Soft Power”

Meeting In Vietnam Includes Workshop About International Importance Of Contemporary Chinese Culture

Director Li Liuyi's "Chinese Heroines In War" is one of the highlights of the Europalia China Art Festival, Brussels. (Source: China Daily)

Director Li Liuyi's "Chinese Heroines In War" is one of the highlights of the Europalia China Art Festival, Brussels. (Source: China Daily)

This weekend, at an international cultural workshop held at the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Vietnam, a range of attendants, including government officials, NGO workers, artists and cultural experts, discussed current projects they are currently working on in China. According to Xinhua, the cultural workshop, organized by the ASEM, was held with the aim of discussing the best ways to foster multi-lateral cooperation through culture in the ASEM framework.

Recommendations from the workshop will be submitted to the 4th ASEM Culture Ministers’ Meeting in September in Poland and the 8th ASEM Summit in October in Belgium.

From Xinhua:

“Chinese art and culture are becoming more and more fashionable. There is great interest in China on all levels,” says Airan Berg, former artistic director for the performing arts of the European cultural capital, Linz, Austria 2009.

The workshop attracted delegates and participants from nearly 20 countries and regions, and the topics ranged from cultural diplomacy to the role of associations and NGOs in cultural dialogue.

Berg shared the experience of Linz, the European Capital of Culture 2009, a one-year cultural project that helped attract tourism and boost the economy of the city during the world financial crisis.

The program included a new rendition of the operetta The Land of Smiles, directed by China’s director Li Liuyi and including some Chinese performers.

The short opera, which premiered in 1929 in Berlin, tells the story of the relationship between a Chinese man and an Austrian woman. In his new production, Li fused contemporary theater with traditional Chinese operatic styles and addressed intercultural relationships from a Chinese angle. The production was sold out for all performances, and is still running at Landestheater Linz regularly.

“The scenes in China in the original play were an Austrian vision of China from a time of which we knew very little. Having this work about China performed and directed by Chinese gives its great reality and poetry,” Berg says.

Asialink, an Australian organization devoted to Australia-Asia engagement, is planning to curate an exhibition in Australia of Chinese arts from 1911 to 1979.

“Traditional and contemporary Chinese arts are very well known in the world, but the period linking them is not known outside China. What happened between them is a really fascinating story,” says Alison Carroll, director of the arts program of Asialink.

More information about ASEM is available on the organization’s website.


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