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Culture and calligraphy become China's calling cards

By Ren Qi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-11 07:38
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During the 21st Belarus International Media Exhibition in Minsk, I noticed an elderly woman standing at the front desk of the China section. She seemed anxious.

It was lunchtime, so almost everyone in the section was on a break, leaving only a Chinese calligrapher who did not speak Russian.

So I went up and asked the lady what she needed. She said her name was Anna Petrovna, and she wanted to buy some Chinese calligraphy for her daughter.

"Her name is Lena," the 67-year-old told me. "I'd like to have the calligrapher write the characters for 'healthy' and 'successful', so I can give them to her.

"I've never been to China, and I know little about the country," she said. "But I have heard how friendly Chinese people are, and I really like Chinese calligraphy."

The exhibition was held at the Belarus National Exhibition Center from May 3 to 6, and for the first time China was the guest of honor. Employees from the Chinese embassy in Minsk and a local Confucius Institute, one of three in the country, manned the China section for the event.

Unlike many other sections, China's display area was so crowded with visitors I struggled to find somewhere to stand.

In addition to asking for samples of calligraphy, many of the attendees were interested in traditional Chinese printing as well as the Russian-language edition of President Xi Jinping's book, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China.

Thanks to reports in the Belarusian media and close cooperation between governments and companies in both countries, China and Chinese culture enjoy good reputations in Belarus, according to Fan Di, a teacher from Northeastern University in Shenyang, Liaoning province.

Fan is on a two-year teaching program at the Confucius Institute affiliated with the Belarusian National Technical University in Minsk.

She said the local people are enthusiastic about traditional Chinese culture, as demonstrated by the fact that every time the Confucius Institute participates in an exhibition, its displays are always swamped by curious locals, who ask all sorts of questions.

"The Belarusians really do seem to love our calligraphy, kites and fans," she said.


Anna Petrovna displays calligraphy she was given at an exhibition in Minsk.Ren Qi / China Daily

(China Daily 05/11/2017 page6)

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