Serials more than food for thought

Updated: 2014-01-05 08:21

By Mike Peters (China Daily)

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Serials more than food for thought

Imron Cotan, ambassador of Indonesia [Photo by Wu Chuanjing/China Daily]

It might seem like an odd parting gift to China. Indonesia's ambassador Imron Cotan, a buoyant, smiling man who will end his posting in Beijing soon, recently presented local officials and scholars with a series of kung fu adventures.

But Cotan's gift represents an extraordinary bridge between the two countries. The Mandarin translations of more than 120 serials retell the heroic fights put up by Chinese kung fu masters to protect people from thugs and criminals operating around Taishan Mountain in ancient times. Amazingly, this long and lovingly detailed collection was created by a man who never came to China until the stories were long-published and famous in Indonesia.

"Thanks to Kho Ping Hoo, or Sukawati Asmaraman, Taishan Mountain as well as its scenic view and the gentle nature of its people have long been known in Indonesia," says Cotan, who grew up avidly reading the kung fu tales as they came out in the 1970s.

The series is launching in Chinese with Kho Ping Hoo's first book, The Golden Flute.

"It is a monumental celebration that shall revive his fundamental teaching that good always triumphs over evil forces and that good deeds, good actions will surely lead to enlightenment in one's life," Cotan says.

The event also celebrates what has been a dream for the ambassador throughout his mission in China: to restore and burnish the cultural bond between the two countries. For the 27 years before 1990, relations were icy, he says, but since then leaders on both sides have tried to restore a connection that goes back centuries.

"Zheng He, the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) admiral of China's great trading fleets, came to Indonesia seven times," Cotan notes, "and he was not alone." There are more Indonesian citizens of Chinese descent than any other ethnic group, he says, and Chinese temples built around the country in the 17th century provided reference material 300 years later when a young Kho Ping Hoo became entranced by the tales of the kung fu masters of Shandong province an ocean away.

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