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Popularity of traditional culture helps build confidence

By Deng Zhangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-22 10:25
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People view ornaments used in the Peking Opera at the news center of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing, Oct 12, 2022. [Photo/IC]

Exquisite art pieces made by traditional Chinese handicrafts displayed along a corridor to the news center of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing have drawn the eyes of journalists from across the world. The corridor has become a popular venue for reporters to shoot their videos since the news center opened last week.

The traditional artworks not only grip the attention of foreign journalists who feel curious about things with Chinese elements, but also Chinese reporters. They often stop in their tracks to look carefully at these pieces, such as a coronet adorned with gems and ornaments used in Peking Opera.

As a journalist who began reporting on cultural events in 2012, I witnessed the rising popularity of traditional Chinese culture in the past decade, especially among the young generation who are eager to use Chinese culture as a distinctive identity.

Ten years ago, people wearing hanfu — a traditional Chinese style of clothing — were mostly found in tourist destinations, while now young people wear it as a daily dress to work. They can be seen in subways, at parks and in workplaces. China Chic, or guochao, featuring fashionable designs mixed with elements from traditional culture, has been warmly embraced by the young.

It can be found in the clothes they wear, the products they use in daily life and even in their entertainment activities. That's why museums are becoming popular destinations, and visiting one is now a routine leisure activity, as often as going to cinemas. Fang Qin, director of the Hubei Provincial Museum and a delegate to the 20th CPC National Congress, feels the changes strongly.

"Ten years ago, I could never imagine that museums have to cap the number of daily visitors to protect their collections," said Fang.

He added that people's passion for traditional culture shows their cultural confidence, which was stressed in the report delivered by Xi Jinping on Sunday.

Known for its bronzeware, the museum in Wuhan often displays items unearthed at archaeological sites, which Fang thought would be difficult for people to understand.

The wide popularity of these shows is beyond archaeologists' expectations. In July, Fang livestreamed a show on the history of a site dating back to prehistoric times. It attracted about 10 million viewers.

"Our cultural confidence is based on the 5,000-year history of Chinese civilization. Without the glorious history, we can't establish a socialist culture with Chinese characteristics," explained Fang on the popularity of museums.

I have also noticed the flourishing of many traditional operas and dances that were once on the verge of vanishing.

A delegate to the congress, Hou Yan, told me that she is proud of her profession as a performer of Qinqiang Opera, a folk opera that requires performers to sing at a high pitch. It was once popular in rural areas in Northwest China.

Hou was forced to leave the stage decades ago because the Qinqiang Opera troupe she worked for was dissolved due to a lack of audiences.

Last month she staged a show of this genre in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, and won lots of acclaim. Many flew from other cities to see her perform.

"So many people love my performance. I'm very confident and proud of our culture," said Hou, who is one of the delegates to the congress elected from the cultural sector as promoters of local operas.

Last year, Hou and her troupe performed hundreds of Qinqiang shows in theaters. Some of the troupe's young actors also showed it online and attracted lots of young followers.

A report on the trend of traditional culture in 2021 released in February by Bilibili, a video-sharing platform popular among younger people, said more than 177 million of the platform's users were in favor of videos featuring traditional culture. Such culture-related videos always win tens of thousands of viewers.

"What is cultural confidence? I think the young people's passion for traditional culture is the best example," said Hou.

I hold the same view as Hou. In recent years, my friends always ask for my recommendation for museums that house relics and traditional culture-related items. After our country achieves big economic success, we will turn to spiritual enjoyment — and the glorious culture that nourished our forefathers is the best choice to show our cultural identity.

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