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How music took center-stage in ties

By Zhao Huanxin in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-23 08:58

Performance shows the harmony underpinning city relations between Beijing, Washington

Students from the Alice Deal Middle School pose for a group photograph with a visiting delegation from Beijing on Thursday in Washington. ZHAO HUANXIN/CHINA DAILY

When dozens of US students sang the chorus of a popular Chinese song, followed by a guqin performance featuring a traditional instrument with a history of more than 3,500 years, the audience was riveted at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on Thursday night.

The rendition by the students and the guqin performance, given in honor of the 35th anniversary of Beijing and Washington becoming sister cities, served as a muse for Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai, who lauded the sisterhood as "no doubt" playing the key role in what he likened to the musical ensemble of the China-US rapport.

The song I Love You, China was sung in Chinese by students from Alice Deal Middle School in Washington. Earlier in the day, they also performed at their school for a visiting delegation from Beijing, led by the municipality's Executive Vice-Mayor Lin Keqing.

To Cui, the tune echoed the piece I Love Beijing Tian'anmen when it was sung by about 200 US children at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's historic visit in early 1979, shortly after the two countries established diplomatic relations.

"The singing was as beautiful as what we had just now. And when it was over, Mr Deng went onto the stage, and gave the children a warm hug and an affectionate kiss. At that touching moment, music linked them together, and helped them develop a natural sentiment of friendship," the top envoy said in a speech.

"I can't tell you how glad and touched I am to enjoy the sweet singing of the little angels, and to listen to their spontaneous expression of friendship for China, and for the Chinese people."

Cui said that for 40 years, friendship and cooperation have been a "keynote" of China-US relations. They are a lasting driving force for the advancement of bilateral relations.

Turning to the ensemble of guqin and other musical instruments performed by Chinese artists at the concert, Cui noted the peaceful and soothing sound of the guqin - a zither-like instrument - reflects the Chinese people's love for peace and harmony.

"In the eyes of the Chinese, a touching piece of musical ensemble must be a blend of different tunes and instruments," he said. "Likewise, differences between countries make the stage for cooperation and collaboration. This is exactly how China and the US joined hands 40 years ago."

Historic progress

He said that over the past four decades, China-US relations have made historic progress, bringing tremendous benefits to the two peoples while contributing to world peace, prosperity and stability.

"Looking ahead, we need to expand cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit, manage differences on the basis of mutual respect, and promote a relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability," Cui said. "This is for the good of our people, and for a better future of the world."

Borrowing the title of Thursday night's concert, High Mountains and Flowing Water, Beijing Vice-Mayor Lin said Beijing and Washington DC had forged a friendship as solid as high mountains and as lasting as flowing water.

"I believe exchange and cooperation between the two cities will be ushered into a new stage after the celebrations of the 35th anniversary," Lin said.

The District of Columbia has signed sister-city agreements or protocols of friendship with 15 foreign cities, including with Beijing in 1984, according to sources with the DC mayor's office.

"We've had the opportunity to celebrate the successes of our sisterhood over the last 35 years, which include our construction and refurbishing of the Chinatown archway, and opening a DC China Center, which is our local office in Beijing, which helps DC businesses when they're in Beijing to make the connections that they need," Mayor Muriel Bowser said before the concert.

A Beijing Day cultural event was held at the Ronald Reagan Building on Friday.


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