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From performing arts to theme parks between China-US

Reporter: Liu Wenwen 丨 CCTV.com

09-29-2015 00:40 BJT

Full coverage: President Xi Visits U.S.

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently paid a state visit to the U.S., but cultural exchanges between the two countries are an important backdrop to the diplomatic ones. For example, Universal Studios has just contracted to build a theme park in Beijing.

Universal Studios

Universal Studios' theme parks in Beijing

Universal Studios' theme parks are a must-see for tourists from all over the world who want to have an ultimate Hollywood experience. And soon, visitors who come to Beijing can experience that too, with a Chinese twist.

The park is expected to open in 2019 and will be the world's largest. Traditional and modern Chinese culture elements have been incorporated in the planning. Cultural exchanges between the two countries have been active in a variety of areas in recent years.

Universal Beijing theme park and resort joint venture agreement signing ceremony

Universal Beijing theme park and resort joint venture agreement signing ceremony

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art brought more than 100 art pieces from its collection to display at the National Museum of China in February of 2013. The exhibit covered a time span of more than 3,000 years and was the first time that pieces from the Met had been showcased in China.

Soprano Renee Fleming is no stranger to China. The Grammy winner known as "the people's diva" brought her international tour to the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing in May of 2013. Fleming has performed in China a number of times and she says she's amazed by her Chinese fans' passion for classical music.

Fleming said:"As was everything here, even in the few years I've been coming, one sees tremendous growth and change in every aspect of life. I feel that everyone's taste has developed already. This love and desire to excel in classical music is hopefully growing."

And vice versa: Chinese artists have also brought their performances to the United States. One of the biggest events was the U.S. tour in August of 2014 that marked the 120th anniversary of the birth of late Peking Opera maestro Mei Lanfang. The tour by a troupe of nearly 90 singers, actors and musicians from the Beijing Peking Opera Theater performed in several American cities.

"I never realized how complex the rhythms are. And the actors and the orchestra collaborating. It's so much fun to watch. I really enjoy it."

"It's so beautiful. I feel like it's an art form, even to get dressed and put the make-up on."

Mei Lanfang toured the U.S. 90 years ago. His son Mei Baojiu is one of China's most famous opera stars, and he was thrilled to take his family's tradition back to American soil.

"In 1930, my father performed many shows in the United States, in New York, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. So if I'm going to do something in memory of my father, to celebrate his work, I must return to those cities. The heart of the performance, the work of the performer, is the soul of my father's art, and that continues to thrive," said Mei Baojiu, Peking Opera master. 

Communications between young people in both countries have also been active. Brigham Young University is truly an old friend of China. BYU performing groups have visited China more than 30 times and have entertained in 35 different cities across the country in the 36 years since their first tour in the 1980s.

2015 marks the tenth anniversary of BYU's collaboration with the famous Meet-in-Beijing Arts Festival, where singers and dancers from the university graced the stage in Beijing.

BYU has also held workshops with students in China, sharing their passion for music and cross-cultural encounters.

Rex Barrington, assistant director of Brigham Young Univ. Singers said:"It's a marvelous experience when you have students from one country working with students from another - universities from the United States with universities from China or other parts of the world - increases the educational experience. It helps the students broaden their understanding of the world."

Experts believe people-to-people cultural exchanges can benefit both countries. "By people-to-people exchange, projects now available to them," said Teng Jimeng, Beijing Foreign Studies University.

The United States and China have the largest GDPs in the world, so when their heads of state get together, they're bound to talk numbers. Of course, the media will also focus on commercial cooperation. 

But lasting connections between nations must be rooted in something more than mere facts and figures. Surely, it is in the realm of cultural exchange that hearts can be truly united and greater understanding forged between two peoples.

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