The cultural exchange between China and Africa started in the mid 1950s, when in May of 1955, China and Egypt signed Summary of Talks on Cultural Cooperation Between the Governments of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and The Arab Republic of Egypt, the first cultural agreement between new China and an African country. In April of 1956, China's 76-member Cultural and Art Ensemble visited Egypt and Sudan on invitation. As more and more countries on the African continent broke from colonialism in the 1960s and 1970s and established diplomatic relations with China, cultural exchange between China and Africa stepped into a new era.
In April 2000, PRC President Jiang Zemin visited South Africa. Chinese Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng and Dr BS Nqubane, Minister of South Africa's Arts, Culture, Science and Technology, signed The Agreement on Cultural and Art Cooperation Between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of the Republic of South Africa on behalf of each country. By then, all African countries that had established diplomatic relations with China had signed bilateral governmental agreements on cultural cooperation and annual executive plan.
The following are main features of cultural exchange and cooperation between China and Africa.
First: high-level exchange visits are frequent. China and African countries send governmental cultural delegations to visit each other. Ministers of culture of African counties and celebrities in cultural circles have visited China and vice versa. Up to now, more than 200 cultural delegations have visited each other. From 1997 to August 2000, China received 28 ministerial level cultural delegations from Africa and also sent 7 governmental cultural delegations to visit 17 African countries. They have played key roles in promoting cultural relations which mainly based on governmental exchange.
Second: performance and art ensembles visit each other frequently. In the past decades, performing troupes took hundreds of trips. The National Ballet of China, the China Oriental Song & Dance Ensemble, the China Acrobatic Troupe, the Wuhan Acrobatic Troupe, the Dalian Art Ensemble and SinKiang Song & Dance Ensemble, along with thousands of artists, actors, singers and other entertainers, have visited African countries. In turn, China has hosted such African ensembles as the National Dance Ensemble of the Republic of Congo, the Egyptian Folk Art Ensemble, the National Art Ensemble of Mali, the Namibian Art Ensemble and the South African Chorus.
Third: the scale of art exhibitions exchanges expand with increasingly richer contents. China and African have held more than a hundred art exhibitions of various genres and scale. For example, China held the Chinese Painting and Sculpture Exhibition in Egypt, the Chinese Watercolor Exhibition in Zimbabwe and Tunis, the Chinese Arts and Crafts Exhibition in Benin and the Chinese Contemporary Oil Painting Exhibition in South Africa. Meanwhile, African countries held many exhibitions in China, such as the Moroccan Painting and Calligraphy Exhibition, the Mauritian Painting Exhibition, the Chromatic Cape Verde Painting Exhibition and the Comprehensive Exhibition of African Arts. The Comprehensive Exhibition of African Arts showcased more than 300 works form 11 African countries, unprecedented feat.
Fourth: China and Africa cooperate on training of artists and performers. China trained acrobats for Sudan and Tanzania and sent academics to teach or study African art and culture.
Fifth: China establishes cultural centers in Benin and Mauritius and launches a series cultural exchange activities.
Sixth: special theme activities are undertaken. China and African countries have held culture days, weeks and months, movie weeks and book fairs to promote cultural exchange. Moroccan Culture Week, Algerian Movie Week and Tunisian Culture Exhibition greatly impressed Chinese attendees, and Chinese Movie Week, Chinese Culture Month and the Chinese Books Exhibition opened a window for African people to get to know China. These activities enhance communication and understanding of both people.
Moreover, China and African countries have conducted exchange and cooperation in various fields such as education, sports, films and TV, books, the press and publishing.
(China.org.cn December 10, 2003)