In the morning of March 7, 2019, H.E. Ambassador CAO Zhongming of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Belgium paid a visit to the China Cultural Center in Brussels, accompanied by Mr. XIANG Shihai, Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium, and Mr. GE Yiyou, Director of the China Cultural Center in Brussels.
H.E. Ambassador CAO and his entourage first visited the Chinese New Year’s exhibitions: “The Chinese Zodiac” & “Keeping Warm”. The Director of the Center, Mr. GE Yiyou, explained during the guided tour that “on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, the Center carefully selected and curated two fine exhibitions, which are not only original and in style, but also integrate Chinese and Western cultural elements, aiming to spread the positive energy of Chinese culture and art in a contemporary context”. During the visit, Ambassador CAO mentioned that “The Chinese Zodiac” exhibition adopts an ingenious approach using Western terminology to interpret a Chinese creative concept. The “Keeping Warm” exhibition touches upon the heart of Chinese folk life, but also resonates with the local audience, bringing warmth to the cold winter. The staff of the Center proudly reported to the Ambassador that the two exhibitions attracted a large number of Belgian admirers since its opening and that numerous guests were charmed by the artworks, many of them taking photos with the exhibits. Among the most popular ones is the calligraphy-style depiction of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Interpreting the zodiac signs through Chinese calligraphy and ink wash elements, the artist gives ample consideration to both the form and the spirit of Chinese culture. This way, a visit to the China Cultural Center becomes a vivid “first lesson” for many Belgian visitors to understand China.
Ambassador CAO also received more information about the six student visits the Center has recently organized. In the context of the “Experience China” program, local students visited the Chinese New Year’s exhibitions and were immersed in Chinese culture. The Center offered this young audience the unique opportunity to get acquainted with the “idealism” of China. The visiting students’ age ranged between 6 and 20. They came from five local schools or organizations in Brussels (one Dutch-speaking school, one French-speaking school and three French-speaking organizations) and from one education and training institution. The students visited the exhibition, interacted with the Center’s staff and got to learn about the Chinese folklore culture of Spring Festival, acquiring knowledge of China throughout this delightful experience. H.E. Ambassador CAO avowed the far-reaching role of the Center as an important window to help Belgian citizens understand China: “Deeply rooted in Belgium, the Center has actively promoted Chinese culture to the local people and engaged in the intercultural dialogues between China and Belgium.” The Ambassador continued: “The Center actively engages with local cultural life and responds to the needs of local schools to understand Chinese culture. In the future, the Center can establish long-term cooperation with local schools to make the student visits a permanent activity. Not only will it increase the popularity of the Center, it will also plant a seed of Chinese culture among the local youth generation.”
Later on, Director GE reported to Ambassador CAO the major work of the Center and the planned activities for the year of 2019. He explained that the “Happy Chinese New Year” event series attracted a large number of Belgian people and overseas Chinese to visit the place. The Center strived to offer a warm feeling of homecoming to Chinese and foreign friends who gathered during the Spring Festival of 2019. “We have now made detailed plans for the various events in 2019 and shall endeavor to present the best of Chinese culture to the local audience. This year, the Center will continue telling a warmer and down-to-earth Chinese story through sentiments, vitality and cultural essence. Chinese culture is never remote, it coincides with the many cultures of Europe. When both cultures finally meet, the world will become a more beautiful place,” concluded Director GE.
Following the report by Director GE on the daily efforts and the annual work plan of the Center, H.E. Ambassador CAO has not only acknowledged the important role of the Center in promoting the people-to-people exchanges between China and Belgium and in spreading both people’s cultures, but also gave full recognition to the Center’s initiatives in terms of enrichment of content, innovation in the forms of displaying culture and integration into local cultural activities. The Ambassador encouraged the Center to make constant efforts to “go out, invite in and integrate”, pooling diverse resources for an even better promotion of Chinese culture. He mentioned that the year of 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China and he wishes that the Center will continue playing a role in deepening mutual understanding, reinforcing friendship among people and promoting exchanges and mutual learning between both countries.