On May 6, 2023, the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. joined the Around the World Embassy Tour of Washington D.C., and held an open house event themed “Yunnan: A Many-Splendored Life” presenting the southwestern Chinese province. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang sent a congratulation letter to the event. Vice Governor of Yunnan Wang Hao led a delegation and art troupes to the embassy, which gave splendid performance showcasing a colorful Yunnan with vast potential and unique charm. Chargé d’Affaires Xu Xueyuan delivered remarks. The event attracted about 15,000 American visitors. Over 350 guests from various sectors attended the VIP session, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for China Rick Waters, Director of the Office of East Asia at the Department of the Treasury Joseph Dickson, former Secretary of Defense William Cohen and foreign diplomats in the U.S.
Following a promotional film titled Yunnan: A Land of Poetry and Dream, Chargé d’Affaires Xu Xueyuan read the congratulation letter from State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang. In the letter, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin said that in this diverse world, countries differ in social system, history, culture and level of development. Yet, there is every possibility for countries to prosper respectively and collectively, and with an open and inclusive mind and through mutual learning we can become a better self. In China-U.S. relations, Yunnan is a witness to the friendly bond between our two peoples. He recalled how he was personally involved in one touching story of such bond. With the efforts of an American couple, Dr. John Flower and Dr. Pamela Leonard, and the local people in Yunnan, a beautiful China folk house now sits by the Shenandoah River in Jefferson County, West Virginia, built exactly as it was back in Yunnan. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Qin said he was proud to be one of its builders. Today, the folk house has become a window for the American people to know more about Yunnan Province and China as a whole. China is pursuing high-quality development, high-standard opening-up, and national rejuvenation through a Chinese path to modernization. As China continues to develop, it will provide greater opportunities to the world. In this course, China is ready to work with the U.S. to keep to mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation, and build a stable, predictable and constructive China-U.S. relationship. This serves the common interests of both peoples. It is also what the world is expecting from the two countries.
Vice Governor of Yunnan Wang Hao, in his remarks, outlined the socioeconomic development, opening-up, history, culture and ethnic features of Yunnan. He recalled how, in the 1940s, the Flying Tigers fought side by side with the Chinese people in Yunnan against fascist invasion, and opened the well-known Hump route, leaving behind touching stories of China-U.S. friendship. In recent years, Yunnan has continued to strengthen exchanges and cooperation with subnational governments in the U.S., and has established friendship relations with Delaware and Texas. Four of its cities also concluded friendship relations with five American cities. Such exchanges have taken further the long-standing friendship between the two peoples.
Vice Governor Wang said that the folk house of Yunnan rebuilt in Jefferson County, West Virginia was described by State Councilor Qin as a “house of friendship between China and the U.S.” One week later, the Traces of Yunnan events will be again staged here in the U.S. Kunming University of Science and Technology, Contemporary Gallery Kunming and Dr. John Flowers will jointly launch a series of activities, including the Traditions of Architecture in Yunnan forum and an exhibition under the theme of Fields of Being. Vice Governor Wang encouraged American friends to experience the unique charm of traditional Chinese architecture at the Asian Fusion Gallery in Washington, D.C. He also invited them to visit Yunnan, to experience the many-splendored life there and to realize their business dreams.
In her remarks, Chargé d’Affaires Xu expounded the theme of the open house event with four words that all begin with the letter D. First, diversity. There are 25 ethnic groups in Yunnan province, who are united as the seeds of a pomegranate. The same is true for the whole country: harmony without sameness, beauty out of diversity. Second, development. Yunnan is a gateway for the opening-up of southwestern China. In recent years, together with other provinces, it has won the battle against abject poverty, and is now focusing on high-quality development. The local people of all ethnic groups are now striving for a better life of common prosperity. Third, decarbonization. Yunnan has excelled in pursuing growth while protecting the environment. Its blue waters and green mountains have won it the reputation of “a kingdom of fauna and flora”. Its success exemplifies China’s consistent efforts to uphold harmony between man and nature. In 2022, Yunnan’s provincial capital, Kunming, hosted the 15th meeting of the conference of the parties to the Convention on Biodiversity. Last summer, a herd of elephants in Yunnan became a global hit on the internet, as they wandered several months before returning to their natural habitat. Fourth, dynamism. Yunnan has both the hustle and bustle of modern cities like Kunming, and verdant landscape in scenic attractions such as Xishuangbanna. In urban areas and countryside alike, people lead a vibrant and dynamic life, and they look forward to an even brighter future.
In the following lucky draw, a most exciting part of the session, three American visitors and their families gained a round of applause for winning the grand prize for families, which includes round-trip airline tickets from the U.S. to Yunnan for a five-day, four-night tour in the province.
Artists from the Yunnan Huadeng Opera Theatre and the Ethnic Culture Studio of Honghe, Yunnan treated the audience to a feast of authentic Yunnan performance on the stage of the embassy. Performers of Flying Birds, a song in the over 700-year-old Haicai tune of the Yi ethnic minority group, amazed the audience with their soaring voices. The Huayao Dai ethnic dance Hopping with Bamboo Tubes offered a delightful glimpse into the folk life and ethnic customs of Yunnan. The hulusi instrumental music Fernleaf Bamboo in the Moonlight depicted the picturesque bamboo houses of the Dai ethnic group. The peacock dance Best Wishes vividly captured the beauty of peacocks with soft and elegant movements. The Yi ethnic song Feeling Shy showed girls and lads singing passionately to the one they adore. The Jingpo ethnic dance Shining Silver Bubbles featured graceful and flamboyant movements, accompanied by the tinkling of the performers’ silver ornaments. The audience, some seated on the floor, watched intently. Children dancing to the tunes and emulating the artists made an especially lovely scene. Two preservers of intangible cultural heritage from Yunnan demonstrated Dongba Pictographic Calligraphy and paper-cutting art of the Dai ethnic group, attracting a large number of American visitors to experience the cultural traditions.
The Embassy Open House provided a rich variety of exhibitions and interactive experience. At the chancery building, visitors coming with their families or friends drank in the architectural masterpiece and art collections, including landscape paintings of the five famous mountains of China and the Great Wall, traditional Chinese calligraphy and porcelain pieces. They tasted the tea and coffee of Yunnan, tried their hands at the four treasures of the Chinese study, and watched with keen interest the photo exhibition “An Extraordinary Decade of China in the New Era”, the “Technology for the People” exhibition and historical photos of China-U.S. exchanges. They also got snapshots in Han-style clothing or costumes of ethnic minority groups of Yunnan at the interactive photo kiosk, took pictures with panda parade performers, enjoyed performance by Chinese folk music and jazz bands, lion dancing and waist drum dancing, and had a bite of delicacies such as red bean cakes, sweet pea puddings and fried spring rolls. An American visitor explained to the children the story behind the painting at the Confucius Room showing Confucius educating his students. At the Bamboo Room, visitors marveled at and took photos of the exquisite Suzhou embroidery. The long lines of visitors, smiling faces and murmurs of admiration everywhere all added to the charm of the beautiful spring day.
Before leaving the embassy, visitors queued up to get a panda stamp on their “passport”. Many of them said they were deeply impressed by how the Chinese Embassy took them onto a journey through Chinese history, folk art, culture and contemporary China, giving them a most enjoyable, memorable and unforgettable experience.
The event was covered by Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, China Daily, China News Agency, Phoenix TV, Dragon TV, local televisions and community media outlets of Washington D.C. and American KOLs.