Connected by mountains and rivers, China and Myanmar enjoy a deep cultural friendship. In the heyday of China’s Tang Dynasty in the early 9th century, the Prince of Pyu led a troupe of dancers and musicians on a visit to Chang’an (the capital of Tang Dynasty known today as Xi’an).
Their enchanting performance was celebrated by Bai Juyi, the foremost Chinese poet of his time, in an ode to music from the kingdom of Pyu. This is still referred to as a landmark of China-Myanmar Cultural Exchange.
Entering the new century, the two governments have signed cooperation agreements in culture, education, sports, and health, thus deepening our cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, visited Myanmar from January 17 to 18, 2020, and jointly launch celebrations for the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism with U Win Myint, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. It became a new milestone in China-Myanmar cultural cooperation.
Since ancient times, China has emphasised the culture of “harmony”, promoting cultural diversity in the world. The culture of the Golden Land, Myanmar, is a significant part of human culture. China always respects Myanmar’s culture and values cultural exchanges with Myanmar people.
President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the Asian Cultural Conference in 2019, “Diversity spurs interaction among civilisations, which in turn promotes mutual learning and their further development.” China-Myanmar cultural exchanges have always adhered to this concept.
Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, both China and Myanmar participated by sending their artists to cultural festivals, including the Asian Art Festival, the Silk Road International Art Festival, China-ASEAN Drama Week, and Yangon International Puppet Festival.
There are also outstanding works of art in entertainment, music, and cultural shows by people of the two countries at festivals such as Chinese New Year, the Thingyan Festival, and New Year’s Day.
Additionally, China and Myanmar have established many platforms such as the Ningbo Initiative on Lancang-Mekong Cultural Cooperation, the China-ASEAN Cultural Forum, Allied Silk Road, Asian Theatre Alliance, and carry out group visits of cultural, travel, museology, archaeology, libraries, and writer’s associations to share experience for mutual improvement.
In November 2017, witnessed by State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, China Cultural Centre in Yangon was officially inaugurated by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Myanmar Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture Thura U Aung Ko.
In 2018, the China Cultural Centre started operating, and hundreds of cultural activities were attended by more than 50,000 people. In 2020, the “China Online” activity was introduced.
It has become an online platform that has gained people’s attention by introducing China-Myanmar culture and travel under programs of online Resources, Online teaching, Online Viewing, Online Interation and Online Fight Against the Pandemic.
The Chinese people are very glad that Bagan in Myanmar was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019. Chinese experts will continue to support the World Heritage recognition of Mrauk-U as well.
The Chinese government will speed up renovation work on the National Theatre in Yangon, the National Sports Complex in Thuwana and the Bagan Thetbinnyu. It will be beneficial for Myanmar people to complete the major cultural cooperation projects as soon as possible.
Myanmar is one of the most visited tourist destinations by Chinese people and the biggest source of foreign students. In 2019, about 750,000 Chinese tourists visited Myanmar, accounting for one-fifth of the total. Chinese tourists love the pure nature of Myanmar and are amazed by the pagodas that are everywhere and contribute greatly to the economic growth of Myanmar.
More than 300 Chinese students came to Myanmar to study in 2019. Nearly 300 Myanmar students received Chinese scholarships and were able to study in China. They will pass on China-Myanmar friendship.
In recent years, Chinese medical teams have visited Myanmar to provided free cataract surgeries to thousands of patients. The Myanmar national Wushu team has been trained in China for a long time and won one gold, three silver and three bronze medals in 2018 Wushu Taolu World Cup. It was Myanmar’s best performance in a world competition in nearly 20 years.
With the emergence of COVID-19 in 2020, China and Myanmar are working together to fight the pandemic and have yielded good results.
The administrative departments of cultural and tourism of the two countries will conduct communication and coordination on post-COVID-19 tourism recovery, share relevant experience in resuming production and promoting tourism, and hold consultations on activities of China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism after COVID-19.
It is believed that relevant work will inject new vitality into bilateral exchanges and cooperation.