The first event in a series of activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year took place at the Center on January 17.
The Spring Festival marks the beginning of a new year in the lunar calendar. On January 25, China ushers in the Year of the Rat. The China Cultural Center in Brussels organized some early festivities on the evening of January 17, attended by approximately 170 guests.
This was the first installment of a series of Chinese New Year activities, which were made possible under the guidance of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the European Union; the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Belgium; the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism; the China Cultural Center in Brussels; the Shanghai International Cultural Exchange Association, the Shanghai Cultural Agency; Eastday, International Economy & Culture Exchange Center; the Administration of Culture and Tourism of Wuhan; and the Inner Mongolia Bureau of National Art Troupes.
The event’s special guests were Mr. FEI Shengchao, Minister-Counselor of the Chinese Mission to the EU; Mr. XIANG Shihai, Counselor of Culture of the Chinese Embassy in Belgium; Mr. ZHANG Shenggen, Secretary-General of the Shanghai International Cultural Exchange Association; and Mr. XIONG Tao, Vice-President of the Wuhan Theater of Chu Opera.
Mr. GE Yiyou, Director of the China Cultural Center in Brussels, took the floor to extend a warm welcome to the guests and wish everyone a happy New Year. He introduced the Chinese New Year’s activities, including the Center’s new exhibition “Poetry of Dunhuang”. Mr. Ge praised Dunhuang as a dazzling pearl and a treasure of Chinese traditional culture. He encouraged the guests to explore the cultural stories depicted within the art.
As a vital hub on the ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang was a place where many cultures met and interacted. Its Buddhist art inspired many generations of artists. Now, five painters from Shanghai, ZHAO Kangwei, CHEN Xiejun, ZHOU Jiahua, ZHANG Ruigen and TAN Weixing, have expressed their own understanding of Dunhuang culture in the “Poetry of Dunhuang” exhibition.
When Mr. Xiang Shihai extended his New Year’s wished to the guests, he touched on the folk customs that go hand in hand with the Spring Festival. He mentioned the Chinese zodiac and noted that the rat, the first animal of the 12-year zodiac cycle, is not viewed negatively in China. Then, he added, “Today is the day people in China start the arrangements for New Year’s celebrations, like preparing certain traditional food.”
When the festive atmosphere was established, the audience was treated to a cultural performance combining song, dance, Peking and Chu opera, folk music, puppetry and magic. Several art troupes from Wuhan in the province of Hubei came together to realize this beautiful show. Crowd-pleasers like “The Moon Represents My Heart” and “Jasmine Flower” could not be missing from the set list.
After this uplifting experience, guests could further immerse themselves in the Chinese New Year atmosphere. Live pipa and guzheng music filled the air, while one of the “Poetry of Dunhuang” exhibition’s artists, Mr. ZHANG Ruigen, led a calligraphy workshop. He created lovely Spring Festival couplets for enthusiasts to take home.
The next day, festivities continued in Liège, where the “Happy Chinese New Year” cultural fair spread traditional Chinese culture, interacted with the locals of the Walloon city and reinforced the friendship between China and Belgium. The event was jointly organized by the Chinese Embassy in Belgium and the City of Liège, and attended by H.E. CAO Zhongming, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium; Mr. Willy DEMEYER, Mayor of the City of Liège; Mr. Willy BORSUS, Vice President of Wallonia; Mr. Hervé JAMAR, Governor of the Province of Liège; and Mr. Luc GILLARD, Chairman of the Provincial Council of Liège.
The Center wishes you a happy and joyful Year of the Rat!
Poetry of Dunhuang
January 20 – February 19
Open Monday to Friday according to the opening hours of the Center