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Traditional Chinese Culture is Spreading in English-Speaking Countries

Date:2021-09-17 10:46:43 Source:Organizing Committee Author:Organizing Committee

    Under the strategy to “build a country with strong culture”, outstanding traditional Chinese culture’s value has been further excavated and the communication about it has became a main way to show it’s attraction and to improve it’s influence. Cuisine, Chinese opera, language, etiquette, Confucian culture, festival and customs all belong to the essence to present the high level of traditional Chinese culture. Not only do they offer excellent material for socialist culture with Chinese characteristics for a new era, but also provide a cultural card for western English-speaking countries to learn more about eastern countries in the current era when frequent international cross-cultural communication is going on, leading China’s cross-cultural communication towards new achievements. Cultural influence reflects comprehensive national strength and is a cultural foundation for countries to cooperate and to build a human community with a shared fate. The globalization has been enhanced continuously, the spread of local cultures is valued by every countries. For a very long time, China has been in a different cultural and geographical condition when compared with western countries, so it formed distinctive cultures and languages. How to enable outstanding traditional Chinese culture to adapt to another environment dominated by English language and culture and how to construct a more reasonable and effective path to spread outstanding traditional Chinese culture are important questions for those studying and promoting Chinese culture.

    Differences in geography, living style and cultural recognition lead to distinctive features in cuisine cultures between China and western countries, ranging from food types and cooking to utensils and seat sequence at dinner. Before the first climax of overseas migrants going to China, traditional Chinese cuisine had limited influence in western countries, because cuisine cultures in China and the west had been separated from each except for end of the feudal society when missionaries come to China to learn and record as well as for the end of the Qing Dynasty when some students were eager to study abroad. Overseas migration is the main form of cross-country people movement and is more stable that other kinds like short-term overseas study, preaching religion, travel and so on. In the middle and late period of the 19th century, western powers waged wars to open China's gate and thusly exchanges increased in trade, politics and culture increased between China and the west English-speaking countries. And Chinese practitioners engaged in such fields gradually got together and created "China town", a place for overseas Chinese to live together. The first generation of Chinese migrants settled in other countries brought traditional Chinese cuisine to places they lived in. A large number of Chinese restaurants solved eating problems of Chinese migrants and became a window for western countries to have a look at traditional Chinese cuisine. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, some elite scholars and rich businessmen moved to cities in the western world, including U.S. and U.K. But they had higher standards for dining and living, so they didn't live in "China town" with other overseas Chinese. Instead, they lived in the same community with local residents, which increased cultural communication and spread traditional Chinese cuisine in a more thorough, comprehensive and direct way. Two different cuisine cultures encountered each other. Against such background, traditional Chinese cuisine culture presented it's charm in a more rich and systematic way and had influenced the eating culture of English-speaking countries to a certain degree and let them to have a better understanding and a more inclusive attitude towards traditional Chinese cuisine.

    Different from unrefined cuisine culture, Chinese opera has unique art feature and represents the peak of traditional Chinese art culture. English-speaking people with high-level art knowledge are capable of feeling the great charm of opera, including Beijing opera, even without knowing Chinese. Chinese opera has various ways to spread wide influence. Opera creation, movie creation and academic research all show evidences of being influenced by outstanding traditional Chinese culture. “The Circle of Chalk” was a zaju opera made by Li Qianfu in Yuan dynasty. Bertolt Brecht was a dramatist in the 20th century. He created “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” which was a adaptation of “The Circle of Chalk”. Bertolt Brecht’s work was popular at that time, proving that China’s traditional opera had considerable influence in western countries. In the movies of the current era, take Hollywood as an example, cultural elements of traditional Chinese opera are integrated in camera language, actors’ lines, costume, make up and prop, so movies can have more aesthetic tension. Movies of Hollywood relies on proficient integrated method and an inclusive attitude towards diversified cultures to attract audience from other countries.

    In a new era, the first step for traditional Chinese opera to improve it’s influence in English-speaking countries was to solve the problem of language, which meant that promoters of Chinese operas must pay attention to the translation of classic works. They need to translate according to English’s language structure and culture mindset on the base of maintaining art features of classic Chinese opera, so English speakers can have a clear understanding of the rich content and cultural charm of Chinese opera, which can lie a foundation for traditional Chinese opera among different art works. In addition, in the era of internet, the promotion of traditional Chinese culture can't only rely on offline methods. Practitioners should conduct a research of the art and cultural features of Chinese opera, which is the basis to inspire the potential of promotion with the internet and the big data, so as to build a promotion system that is innovative, effective, diversified and with clear level and to form new pattern, path and ideas of the spread of traditional Chinese opera. At last, relating people should construct a structure to spread traditional Chinese opera. In terms of talents cultivation, there should be a coordinated promotion structure shaped by inspiring domestic cultural practitioners of Chinese opera and by connecting overseas Chinese as well as education of both Chinese- and English-speaking practitioners for Chinese opera. In terms of content, China needs an abundant and diversified content system with classic operas as the core, with new works to show China's society in the current era. In terms of audience, practitioners should take into consideration the aesthetic need of both professionals and ordinary people and organize and create Chinese operas that can be admired by audience from different countries, so as to improve the number of audience and improve the international cultural status of traditional Chinese opera.

    Activities are the most vivid representation of traditional customs for festival, showing the charm of outstanding traditional Chinese culture as well as the emotional attachment and recognition of people to different times of a year. Taking the following as examples: watching lion dance and lanterns in different shapes at the Spring Festival, eating sweet rice dumplings at the Lantern Festival, worshiping ancestors at the Qingming Festival, eating traditional Chinese rice-pudding and watching dragon-boat racing at the Dragon-Boat Festival, admiring the moon and eating moon cakes at the Mid-Autumn Festival, climbing mountains and recalling the memory of their friends at the Double Ninth Festival and eating a reunion dinner at the eve of the Spring Festival to celebrate together as a family. Against the background of frequent international communication and people’s movement, traditional Chinese festival custom finds it’s place on the international cultural stage by relying on it’s long history and rich cultural accumulation and becomes a mirror to show China’s culture, nationality character and emotion to foreigners. At present, overseas study, migration, tourism and communication in economy, politics and culture promote China’s festival customs in the world, so western English-speaking countries like U.S. and U.K. has had a better understanding of this kind of culture and are willing to accept it. Landmark architecture in many countries including U.S. and U.K. use lights as decoration at important traditional Chinese festival. There will also be traditional activities for Chinese festivals, like making sweet rice dumplings, dumplings as well as watching lion dance and dragon dance, showing that western English-speaking countries like the culture of traditional Chinese festival.

    The exchanges relating to festival custom culture are not only carried out at nongovernmental level, but also as act as a medium of political and cultural diplomacy between China and the world. It’s already common for heads of the two countries to sent messages of congratulation at festivals. The support and promotion of a large number of overseas Chinese are needed to better spread the custom of traditional Chinese festival. Take foreign students in China as an example. Institutions of higher learning organize overseas students to participate in traditional Chinese festival if they are interested, so students can be led to have a close experience of the atmosphere of the festival. There can also be classes about traditional Chinese culture and practical study during festivals, so as to have a cultural system of festivals and customs that is organized, systematic and with a combination of theory and practice.

    Generally speaking, there is an more and more obvious tendency of integrating outstanding traditional Chinese culture with the culture of English-speaking countries. The cross-cultural communication has a good opportunity to develop against the background of continuously developing language education. Outstanding traditional Chinese culture overcomes language and steps on the stage of the world, which is an important procedure of the systematic project of the building of Chinese culture as well as a foundation to construct a human community with a shared future. For English-speaking countries, it’s an effective way to learn China’s cultural development, enrich cultural vision and improve the knowledge level of their people.

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