Global Times: China sees boom in cultural prosperity amid growing confidence among youth

2024-06-25 14:30 1765

BEIJING, June 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ -- In June 2023, at a key meeting on cultural inheritance and development in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping summarized five distinctive features of Chinese civilization, emphasizing its outstanding continuity, originality, unity, inclusiveness and peaceful nature.

China's cultural missions in the new era are to further advance cultural prosperity, build a leading country in culture and foster the modern Chinese civilization, Xi said. To use Xi's own words: "Without full confidence in our culture, without a rich and prosperous culture, the Chinese nation will not be able to rejuvenate itself."

One year on, Global Times reporters talked with experts, scholars and cultural workers, reviewing how efforts were made during the past year under the guidance of Xi's speech to shoulder the new cultural mission of further promoting cultural prosperity and developing a great culture in China and a modern Chinese civilization from a new starting point.

China has seen a boom in cultural prosperity inspired by growing cultural confidence, especially among the young people, one year after President Xi Jinping summarized the five features of Chinese civilization and called for efforts to build a modern Chinese civilization.

At a meeting on cultural inheritance and development in June 2023, Xi noted China's excellent traditional culture has many important elements that have jointly shaped Chinese civilization through five prominent features: continuity, originality, unity, inclusiveness and a peaceful nature.

The past year has seen a host of remarkable cultural achievements made on both domestic and international stages, while Chinese people's cultural confidence has reached new heights as young people have been proudly wearing traditional Chinese clothing and watching dramas about traditional culture. Chinese cultural products, ranging from online novels to TV series such as the Joy of Life and The Double, have become hits around the globe, while various forums and exchanges have taken place involving Chinese civilization and other civilizations across the world.

A series of significant archaeological discoveries have captured widespread attention and the nationwide enthusiasm for museums has reached new heights over the past year. The rise of traditional culture, such as Chinese-style clothing, showcases cultural confidence, forging a deep connection between traditional culture and the younger generation.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese language and literature at Peking University, told the Global Times that the five distinctive features of Chinese civilization are precise summaries of Chinese history and culture and the public's growing confidence shows their appreciation of the features. 

He said that although many countries in the world also boast similar features like "originality" and "peaceful nature," the Chinese belief is not viewing those qualities as separate virtues but as a "five-in-one totality."

"Many historical events in our country can demonstrate that those distinctive features are interrelated. For example, our archaeological project to trace the origins of Chinese civilization is dedicated to inquiring into the continuity of Chinese civilization, yet when looking into archaeological discoveries in China's Xinjiang [Uygur Autonomous Region], you can see the diversity and unity of Chinese culture," the expert emphasized.

Despite noting such features are abstract, Zhang said that emerging trends such as "China chic," "the rediscovery of traditional Chinese culture" and the "high popularity of museums" are exemplifying these features in real life.

"The public's growing confidence in traditional Chinese culture and archaeological stories shows that the public acknowledges and agrees with those features," Zhang noted.

Clear continuity

Xi emphasized that Chinese civilization has a long and continuous history stretching back to antiquity.

As prominent features of Chinese civilization, continuity determines, on a fundamental level, that the Chinese people must follow their own path, while originality shows the enterprising spirit of the people.

With the booming development of Chinese archaeology and the museum industry, many Chinese cultural scholars and archaeologists told the Global Times that exploring the origins of Chinese civilization provides an important source to understand the continuity of China's long history and offers strong support to enhance our historical consciousness and strengthen cultural confidence.

In February, a new building at the renowned Yinxu Museum in Anyang, Central China's Henan Province, opened to the public. The new building displays the fruitful achievements of nearly a century of archaeological exploration at the Yinxu Ruins, a World Heritage Site that can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (c.1600BC-1046BC).

Zhao Qingrong, deputy director of the Yinxu Museum, told the Global Times that the Yinxu Ruins were verified by historical records and archaeological excavations to be the capital of the late Shang Dynasty. The Yinxu Ruins and the unearthed oracle bone inscriptions at the site fully confirmed historical records on the Shang Dynasty, pushing the written history of China back by about 1,000 years.

"The continuity of Chinese civilization is very prominent. On this new journey, this key site that clarifies the origin, formation, and development of Chinese civilization will continue to reveal secrets about Chinese civilization and carry on the spiritual roots of the Chinese nation," she said.

China's construction of modern civilization now has a relatively rich product matrix of modern cultural industries that provide support and a clearer grasp of the path forward. As a result, traditional culture and mainstream values have become widely disseminated and welcomed among young people, ultimately achieving a unity of social benefits, economic benefits, and professional evaluation, said Sun Jiashan, an associate researcher at the Central Academy of Culture and Tourism Administration. "Therefore, we can see that museum tourism is becoming increasingly popular, and the 'China chic' trend is being increasingly embraced by young people," Sun said.

Adapting to changing times

The originality of Chinese civilization is demonstrated by its dedication to integrity and innovation, alongside a profound respect for traditional culture without being constrained by it. Throughout history, Chinese civilization has been marked by its openness to new ideas and its ability to adapt to changing times.

A diverse array of literary and cinematic works have made headlines over the past year, showcasing the vitality of traditional Chinese culture and its impact in strengthening China's national cultural confidence.

From the Hangzhou Asian Games to the phenomenal Yue Opera production New Dragon Gate Inn, the Xiaobaihua Yue Opera Troupe from East China's Zhejiang Province staged a record of over 200 performances in 2023, sparking a new craze for the traditional art among younger audiences who are usually not opera-goers.

The novelty of the new Yue Opera productions lies in its efforts to offer audiences immersive storytelling experiences and ways of expression that align with the development of the times and the aesthetic tastes of young audiences.

"The popularity of Yue Opera was definitely not achieved overnight. It is due to the accumulation of creative ideas that generations of Yue Opera actors and actresses have continued to explore and update," said Mao Weitao, a renowned Yue Opera performer and the artistic director of New Dragon Gate Inn.

Another art production to receive rave reviews is the TV series To the Wonder, which sheds light on the natural beauty, ethic culture and nomadic life of Altay in Northwest China's Xinjiang.

The show was shortlisted with seven other TV series for the Cannes International Series Festival in April.

Altay, a region with a diverse population that includes the Han, Kazak, Mongolian, and Hui ethnic groups, exemplifies the unity in diversity of Chinese civilization and the cultural integration of diverse ethnic groups. The cultural identity of Chinese civilization serves as a shared spiritual home that provides a strong foundation for the integration of diverse ethnic groups.

The unity of Chinese civilization throughout history has given rise to the integration of the various ethnic cultures of the Chinese nation, which rally closely together, even when faced with major setbacks, President Xi said.

Strengthening dialogue

In a congratulatory letter to the first Liangzhu Forum held in East China's Zhejiang Province in December, Xi said that Chinese civilization is open and inclusive, which allows it to continuously enrich itself by drawing on the essence of other civilizations and thereby greatly enrich the garden of world civilizations in return.

He also called for efforts to promote the vision of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and mutual accommodation to help different civilizations live in harmony and reinforce one another, as well as enhance friendship and mutual understanding and affection between people of different countries.

These efforts are being carried out in various ways.

The Emei Kung Fu Girls group, who made a splash in China recently with their stunning martial arts performances, will perform in Paris, France during the upcoming Olympic Games, acting as a cultural ambassador.

The ongoing exhibition The Forbidden City and the Palace of Versailles: Exchanges Between China and France in the 17th and 18th Centuries at the Palace Museum in Beijing is one of the many cultural events celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France.

In May 2023, the China-Central Asia Summit was held in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Known as Chang'an in ancient times, Xi'an is an important cradle of Chinese civilization and also the starting point of the ancient Silk Road.

"With their joint endeavor of hundreds of years, Chinese and Central Asian peoples made the Silk Road expand and prosper, a historic contribution to the interaction, integration, enrichment and development of world civilizations," Xi said in a speech at the summit, stressing the need to strengthen dialogue between civilizations to promote China-Central Asia cooperation.

The five prominent features of Chinese civilization not only highlight the unique charm of Chinese civilization but also inspire a sense of cultural pride and creative enthusiasm among the Chinese people.

As these cultural ideas take root in the hearts of the people, they foster a deeper love and confidence in Chinese culture, driving the construction and development of modern Chinese civilization.

Source: Global Times