Prince William launches China-UK cultural year

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2015-03-02 19:35:29

Prince William launches China-UK cultural year

Britain's Prince William dots the eyes of a sculputure of Shaun the Sheep in British Embassy in Beijing, March 2, 2015. Photo by Wang Zhuangfei/ 

BEIJING - Britain's Prince William launched a China-UK cultural event here on Monday during his first-ever visit to China, by dotting the eyes of a sculpture of British cartoon character Shaun the Sheep.

Using a Chinese writing brush and red ink, the Duke of Cambridge added the finishing touches to the eyes of the sheep, which features a Union Jack design by British artist Dan Heffer and echoes the animal symbol of this Chinese lunar year.

The ceremony, drawn from the auspicious Chinese tradition of dotting the lion's eye in a lion dance to bring good fortune and taking place at the residence of the British Ambassador to China, marked the start of the 2015 China-UK Year of Cultural Exchange.

William chatted with Chinese artists and representatives of the arts before the ceremony but gave no speeches.

He will attend the GREAT Festival of Creativity in Shanghai, where more than 500 British artists, designers and companies will be represented, on Tuesday, and head to southwest China's Yunnan Province later.

The prince's visit to China is the first by a senior British royal in nearly three decades, since Queen Elizabeth II's tour in 1986.

The Shaun the Sheep sculpture is among a number of models of the character to be exhibited as part of the Year of Cultural Exchange. Fifty Shaun the Sheep sculptures with designs by British and Chinese artists will be displayed in five cities across China this year, according to the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Beijing.

Around 30 projects will showcase UK culture in China in the first half of the year, while the second half will bring Chinese culture to the UK, said Nick Marchand, creative director of the Year of Cultural Exchange.

China and the UK are witnessing deeper and deeper cultural exchanges and have a lot to learn from each other, not only about their historical cultures but also about their modern culture, said Sajid Javid, the UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport.

"We'd love to export more into China with our creative sector, but I think for China it would like to do the same, to seize Britain as a great destination for that investment and to learn about how you can expand that creative sector more and make it more attractive throughout the world," he told reporters.

Creative industries contributed 5 percent of the UK economy in 2013 and grew at a speed of 10 percent year on year, according to the embassy's cultural and education section.

Several collaborative projects between Chinese and British cultural sectors are under way, Marchand said: Britain's Royal Court Theatre is working with new Chinese writers and a British publishing company is looking at translating the works of some Chinese contemporary writers into English.

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