China and Kazakhstan have been friendly neighbors for a long time, the ancient Silk Road closely links our two countries – China’s Minister of Culture Cai Wu


China and Kazakhstan have been friendly neighbors for a long time, the ancient Silk Road closely links our two countries - China's Minister of Culture Cai WuOn the eve of the inauguration of the Days of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan China’s Minister of Culture Mr. Cai Wu has given an exclusive interview to the correspondent of Kazinform.

– How do you assess the current level of the Kazakh-Chinese cooperation in the humanitarian sphere? How do you plan to promote cultural cooperation between Kazakhstan and China in the future?

– China and Kazakhstan since ancient times are friendly neighbors, the ancient Silk Road has closely linked our countries. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations the cooperation between the two countries is developing successfully, and the important part of it, cultural contacts, have also reached the high level of progress. Every year there are regular meetings of established in 2005 the Sino-Kazakh Subcommittee on Cultural and humanitarian cooperation, and this year we have held its ninth session. Under the chairmanship of Deputy Ministers of Culture of the two countries the subcommittee covers areas such as artifacts, broadcasting, journalism, publishing, archives, Union of Writers and other associations having become an effective platform for bilateral humanitarian exchange and cooperation. Over the past few years both sides have sent their best teams to each other to conduct the Culture Days, movie weeks of the two countries and other major events. In the field of protecting artefacts in the last two years China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have already sent a preliminary application to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre by the project having been elaborated jointly by our three countries titled “The Silk Road: road network of the initial segment and the Tien Shan corridor”. In January 2012 China confirmed Kazakhstan as a country of a tourist destination for Chinese citizens.

If we talk about education and student exchange between our countries, it is now in China there are about 10,000 Kazakh students getting educated, and in higher educational institutions of Kazakhstan you also train many young Chinese students, and they will become the main force in the continuing case of friendship between the two countries in the future.

In particular, I would like to mention about the upcoming Days of Culture of the two countries in the next two years, this year and the following year. Last year during his visit to China President Nursultan Nazarbayev in a conversation with the leaders of our country said that we should strengthen exchange and cooperation in the humanitarian field, organize “Days of Culture.” Following the instructions of the leaders of the countries both sides this and the next year will hold the “Days of culture.” This year the Kazakh side will send to China its most famous, prominent arts groups and exhibitions. Our ministry is giving priority attention to this event. The exhibition “Treasures of Kazakhstan” will take place at the National Museum of China, the gala concert of “Days of Culture of Kazakhstan ” will be held in the State Theatre of China (National Centre for Performing Arts), these are our best cultural venues. Besides Beijing, performances will also take place in Shanghai and Urumqi. Next year China will hold the “Days of Chinese Culture” in Kazakhstan. We will send the outstanding Chinese arts groups to show the people of Kazakhstan the unique culture and art of China. And I hope your news agencies will widely cover the event.

– What are the cultural events in the near future that are scheduled to take place in Kazakhstan?

– In accordance with the work program of our ministry in 2014 during the Spring Festival [Chinese New Year], we plan to send our art troupe of Inner Mongolia with concerts to Almaty, Astana and Aktobe. Spring Festival is the most important traditional Chinese holiday, which is held according to the Chinese lunar calendar, it marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring and full renovation. It is a celebration of family reunion, a holiday full of fun and joy. In 2014 the Chinese New Year falls on January 31. I know that at this time in Kazakhstan there is still snow, but I hope that the troupe from China will bring the people of Kazakhstan breath of Chinese spring, and will also give the people of Kazakhstan greetings and friendship of the Chinese people.

– In Astana there has recently beeen opened a new State Theatre of Opera and Ballet named “Astana Opera”. Are there any plans in your ministry to send outstanding Chinese artists to represent Chinese traditional and modern art on the stage of this theater?

– State Theatre “Astana Opera”, which has been built under the personal attention of President Nursultan Nazarbayev with the use of advanced design concepts, has become an important part of the cultural landscape of Astana, as well as the first choice of many prominent foreign art troupes during performances in your country. In the future we will conduct negotiations with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan about the performances of our outstanding artistic groups in your country to represent Chinese traditional and modern art. Meanwhile, China also has a world-class platform, such as the National Grand Theater of China (National Centre for Performing Arts), Shanghai Grand Theatre, and Guangzhou Opera House. We hope that the best Kazakh art groups will perform in China, introducing the Chinese people to the outstanding art of Kazakhstan. In addition, the management of theaters of the two countries may also engage in mutual contact and interchange of managerial experience.

– What do you think oif the role of ethnic Kazakhs living in the XUAR in to strengthening cultural ties between our countries?

– China is a multi-ethnic country in which a total population consists of 56 nationalities. The Kazakhs are also one of the members of a large Chinese family. Geographically most of them are living in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region … The Kazakhs have good character, love of freedom, their national culture is unique. The Chinese government has invested a huge amount of financial and material resources to help the Kazakh people to preserve and develop their unique culture and traditions. Currently are successfully developing Sino- Kazakh relations, we see increase of exchanges between the two nations. Many Chinese Kazakhs go traveling or on business to Kazakhstan, many citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan come to China to travel and to get education. This kind of international exchange contributes significantly to the cultural exchange and contacts between the two countries, enhances mutual understanding and friendship between the two peoples.

– Recently foreign media have much written about the “soft power” of China. Can you tell us about the situation in this regard? What positive effect does that policy bring to the countries of Central Asia, including in relation to Kazakhstan? What specific initiatives have been worked out in this direction by the Ministry of Culture?

– The so-called “soft power ” of the country is opposed to hard power, that is, political, economic and military one. Culture as “soft power ” of the country is the basis for long-term development, it defines the real power and the future of a country . A country without culture, a nation without culture do not have the potential and development prospects. The Chinese government has always pursued the policy of peaceful progress. We hope within a cultural exchange with other countries to tell the people of all the countries that the Chinese people welcome peace, harmony and respect for the Chinese culture. Not long ago the Chinese President Xi Jinping made a visit to Central Asia, including Kazakhstan. In his speech at Nazarbayev University in Astana he took the initiative to co-create “economic belt of the Silk Road”, which was responded warmly by the public andf politicians in Central Asia. We hope that this ” economic belt of the Silk Road” will be not only a channel for business between China and the countries of Central Asia, but ill alsobe the channel of cultural exchange and integration between China and the countries of Central Asia, becoming the road of consolidation and collaboration, on which the Chinese people and the peoples of Central Asia will together build a bright future.