China week wraps up on Mall

Updated: 2014-05-27 11:11

By Liu Chang in Washington (China Daily USA)

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Saturday's 2014 Asia-Pacific American Month-New World China Week marked the closing of a week-long celebration of Chinese traditional culture on the National Mall in DC, with characters of "peace", "friendship" and "love" as themes of this year's celebration, composed by small windmills and painting books displayed on the lawn.

In front of the stage, 200 smiling faces drawn by 200 children were presented. Shipped from China, 350 traditional Chinese oilpaper umbrellas were flourished. One thousand small colorful paper windmills were handed out to visitors. Scores of photographic artwork provided by Chinese Embassy were exhibited.

Wen Zou, chief designer of the New World China Week celebration and a Tsinghua University professor of the College of Fine Arts, said the oilpaper umbrellas had a special meaning: as an intangible cultural heritage of China, oil paper umbrellas were rare.

"They themselves need protection. Meanwhile, umbrellas are associated with an artistic conception that it offers shelter and protection to others. We conserve our cultural heritage and would like the world to understand our wonderful culture, " said Zou.

The ceremony also came on the 35th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-US diplomatic relations. "Generations of witnesses to history and their offspring all benefit from the peace, friendship and love brought by the US and China," said Zou, who believed that when people came to the event here today, they put aside political conflicts and differences, and "instead enjoyed the same good dreams and hopes that all people long for".

Sentiments echoed by Soohyun Koo, executive director of the DC government's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, who said real understanding comes through learning about culture and life, instead of politics. "Definitely it's a great way to promote Chinese and Asian-American culture. This is the best way to truly understand people," Koo said.

The festival drew both casual and planned visitors. Haile Tewolde, from Virginia, said he was visiting Capitol Hill when he discovered the festival was going on, drawn by the exhilarating music he heard being played on the stage.

"It is the culture of China," Tewolde said. "I had never seen it before. And now I am very thrilled to see it."

Ying and Brian Ellery brought their three-year-old son William to see the celebration. Ying was originally from Liaoning Province, China. She has lived in Maryland for eight years. She pointed out to her son that "this was part of his cultural heritage".

Jie Li, minister of the embassy of the People's Republic of China, felt as if he had gone back home after he enjoyed the traditional performances. He said people needed to acknowledge the great support provided by the US government and local communities. "There is one common understanding of all the people," Jie said, "that we all need to contribute and share what local communities have to offer."

But such events held by local Asian communities to open at the National Mall in DC might not be so easy. Xiangbo Xia, former president of the Chinese Alumni Association of Greater Washington and program director of the festival, said it was becoming more and more difficult to stage such cultural events.

The stage was originally planned to be placed in the center of the lawn, however it had to move to the edge of the lawn on Saturday. The cost of protection put on the lawn alone could reach $20,000. However difficult, Xia felt proud and excited to hold the celebration. "With great weather today, we were finally able to put on this celebration of culture. It was worth the effort," said Xia.

Saturday's performances included Chinese martial arts, minority dances, Chinese zither guzheng music and traditional singing. The celebration festival is sponsored by New World Development Company Limited, listed in Hong Kong in 1999, as one of the first Hong Kong property developers to break into the Mainland Chinese market.

 China week wraps up on Mall

A taichi performer speaks to the audience at an event of the 2014 Asia-Pacific American Month-New World China Week held at the National Mall on May 24. The event celebrates China's intangible cultural heritage. Lin Meng / for China Daily

(China Daily USA 05/27/2014 page2)