Creating a way for ‘Jasmine’ to bloom along the‘Moon River’

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Tender yet powerful, culture opens up windows for Chinese and Americans to understand each other and builds bridges between hearts.

I sat enraptured as students from Brigham Young University sang the Chinese song “Jasmine Flower,” while students from China’s Shaanxi Province performed the song “Moon River.” The former has been a cultural symbol of China because of Puccini’s opera Turandot, while the latter is familiar to Chinese people due to the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  

The two groups met at the opening of 14th China-US Tourism Leadership Summit in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, a vivid example of people-to-people exchanges between China and the US.

“I could not tell you how good it is to be back,” Todd Davidson, board chair of Brand USA, a marketing organization in the US, said in his speech at the event. He noted that even though some things had changed in the six years since his last trip to China, “what has not changed is the warm, welcoming hospitality of the Chinese people.”

“The summit is especially full of hope and optimism for me,” he said in his speech, noting that he looks forward to “walking this new Silk Road together with each and every one of you in the future.”

Chris Clark, chairman of Visa Asia Pacific, shared his story of being a teacher at the Xi’an Foreign Languages Institute in 1986 and the good time he had back then. 

“One of the areas that we have the greatest opportunity to really capitalize on cultural exchanges and people-to-people exchanges is in working with student groups,” Davidson said.

“There is power in that. What more we can do is to grow those exchanges – educational exchanges, cultural exchanges – which are going to be a powerful motivator for growing the relationship between the two countries,” he added.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the US. The foundation of China-US relations is laid by people, the door of China-US relations is opened by people, the stories of China-US relations are written by people, and the future of China-US relations will be jointly created by the people of the two countries.

In September 1973, the Philadelphia Orchestra toured China, the first US orchestra to do so since 1949. Musicians from both countries played the Chinese orchestral piece The Moon’s Reflection on the Second Spring, which became a cherished memory for many. Fifty years later in 2023, the familiar melody again resonated across a music hall with the performance of musicians from both sides, a new chapter in the five-decade-long friendship.  

Same as music, tourism is an important bridge for exchanges and mutual understanding between the people of China and the US. US tourists are welcome to travel in China, meet Chinese friends, experience Chinese culture, visit beautiful landscapes and experience the real China.

Brian Linden, who has lived in China for years and is operating a unique hotel in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, told me at the welcoming gala that he was glad to see so many representatives from both the Chinese and US tourism industries. 

“It is very a good start,” he said.

After the summit, he shared on social media, “Although it has been five years since the last summit, all of our discussions have been related to China-US tourism and people-to-people exchanges. We all hope that the number of tourists from China and the United States can return to pre-pandemic levels, and this summit is an important step in the right direction. I am inspired by the spirit behind this summit.”

When standing on the ancient city wall of Xi’an, also known as Chang’an, Rowena E Minott was “impressed about the city and its rich culture like the Tang Dynasty and the world-known Terracotta Warriors.”

Seeing is believing. I still remember that when I got off the high speed train from Beijing to Xi’an, in front of me was a family of four including two kids from Europe. One of them said, “Mummy, is here Xi’an yet? I want to see the Terracotta Warriors now.” 

See, culture always finds a way. 

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]