The Festival of China, an unprecedented culture event cosponsored by China and the United States, was kicked off with dazzling art shows, joyous celebrations and firework displays in the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Saturday night.
Chinese Culture Minister Sun Jiazheng said in his opening address that this festival, which runs through October in the Kennedy Center and features dozens of shows, exhibitions and performances, will serve as a medium to show the Chinese people's openness to the world.
He noted that cultural exchange is the best way to communicate between different nations and the efforts made by both China and the United States to facilitate this event show that public sentiments in both countries are in favor of good bilateral relations.
Sun said both Chinese President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart, George W. Bush, have sent congratulatory messages to this event.
Stephen Shwarzman, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Kennedy Center, said the festival not only represents a new opportunity for artists from both countries to communicate with each other, but also marks a very important event in the history of the artistic exchange between China and the United States.
The speeches were followed by a grand show of Chinese performing arts, which features Beijing Opera, Chinese drumbeat, Chinese musical instruments and Chinese acrobatic shows.
The excellent performance of Chinese artists prompted waves of applause echoing in the 1,100-seat Eisenhower Theater in the Kennedy Center.
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters after watching the show that he was pleased with every performance.
"All the performances are wonderful, and how can I pick out the most wonderful one?" he said.
Ann Salonman, who works for the US Academy of Science and has visited China many times since 1970s, said the show was so amazing and represented the great progress which China has made in all aspects during the recent years.
The Festival of China, the largest-ever joint culture event co-organized by the United States and China, will feature dozens of cultural events, including performances, exhibitions, outreaching programs and educational activities, spanning from classical to contemporary pieces, including dance, theater, instrument music, visual arts, literature and film.
The month-long event will highlight the cultural diversity and vitality of the contemporary China as well as China's ancient history and customs.
Some 400,000 Americans are expected to participate in the festival in person and another one million will enjoy Chinese cultural and art shows via TV and Internet broadcasting.
(Xinhua News Agency October 2, 2005)