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Belt and Road Forum: Bridging Cultures and Heritage Conservation

CultureArtBelt and Road Forum: Bridging Cultures and Heritage Conservation

The third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is set to be an extensive event, featuring a myriad of exhibitions and forums aimed at promoting people-to-people exchanges and mutual learning among diverse global communities.

This forthcoming forum is poised to serve as a vital platform for international professionals to exchange ideas, share their accomplishments in cultural exchanges facilitated by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and lay the foundation for future collaborative efforts.

As part of his diplomatic visit to China, President Gabriel Boric of Chile inaugurated an exhibition at the National Art Museum of China on October 16, alongside China’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hu Heping. This event was a tribute to the Chilean artist Jose Venturelli (1924-88), recognizing his profound contributions to fostering the friendship between Chile and China.

Boric emphasized Chile’s historical significance as the first South American country to establish relations with China, highlighting the pivotal role Jose Venturelli played in paving the way for this enduring partnership. He described Venturelli as a messenger of peace to the world.

Chile became a participant in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2018, further solidifying their strategic and commercial partnership. Boric emphasized that this relationship extended beyond diplomacy and commerce to encompass the realm of art, reflecting deeply in the works of Venturelli.

Jose Venturelli, a prominent Chilean artist, holds the distinction of being the first Latin American painter to visit China in 1952. He was instrumental in establishing the Chilean-Chinese Institute of Culture and played a significant role in the formation of diplomatic ties between the two nations. His interactions in China introduced him to renowned Chinese artists like Qi Baishi, Wu Zuoren, and Li Keran.

Minister Hu highly praised Venturelli’s contributions to enhancing cultural exchanges and promoting friendly relations between China and Chile. The exhibition, named “The Chinese Memory,” harmoniously combined pieces from the Jose Venturelli Foundation with artworks from celebrated Chinese artists held by the National Art Museum of China. This exhibition facilitated a cross-temporal and cross-cultural dialogue between artists from both nations, fostering stronger bonds between China and Chile.

In parallel, the Taihe Forum commenced at the Palace Museum on October 16, offering an international platform for cultural heritage professionals to engage in valuable exchanges and collaboration. The two-day forum centered on discussions about the role of international organizations in preserving cultural heritage and the evolving standards for safeguarding cultural relics.

Minister Hu reiterated the importance of cultural relics in preserving the history of civilizations, inheriting cultural traditions, and witnessing the interplay of ideas and learning between civilizations. Greek Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni, who attended the forum, emphasized Greece’s commitment to preserving cultural heritage amid climate change challenges. Greece had initiated an international effort in partnership with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and UNESCO to safeguard cultural heritage from climate-related impacts, garnering positive responses from over 100 countries and regions.

Forum participants echoed the need for close international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural heritage, acknowledging that this collaboration is crucial to addressing global challenges. Juergen Vervoorst, Vice President of the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, commended China’s ambitious efforts to establish numerous museums for showcasing its rich heritage and their unparalleled investment in conservation and heritage science.

Terry Simioti Nyambe, Vice President of the International Council of Museums, lauded China’s dedication to safeguarding its heritage and cited the Belt and Road Initiative as a testament to China’s collaborative efforts in connecting with nations along the Silk Road.

Under the theme “Five Stars Rising in the East,” a recent international art exhibition in Beijing showcased over 3,000 artworks inspired by the Belt and Road Initiative. These works encompassed various mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and environmental art, and provided artistic interpretations of the BRI’s grand theme. The pieces depicted subjects such as China’s ethnic and cultural diversity, multicultural exchanges, and the Chinese spirit and philosophy.

Notably, a portrait created by veteran Chinese oil painter Yang Feiyun portrayed a Muqam art master and his apprentice, symbolizing the transmission of intangible cultural heritage within China’s Uygur ethnic group. The sculpture “The Yellow River, Mother” personified China’s Yellow River as a nurturing mother who continues to nourish the Chinese people, highlighting the enduring connection between the river and its people.

Art critic Shi Yu noted that artists had the freedom to interpret the BRI concept and express themselves in diverse ways, highlighting the contributions of the BRI to various social and cultural fields. The exhibition, though organized into 14 sections, centered around a significant relic, the Wuxing Chu Dongfang Li Zhongguo, a Han Dynasty brocade discovered in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a vital stop along the ancient Silk Road.

Yue Feng, a veteran archaeologist, emphasized that this ancient brocade artifact symbolized China’s rich history of cultural exchanges along the ancient Silk Road. He highlighted the continuity of this spirit of embracing multicultural cooperation from the Silk Road era to the modern Belt and Road Initiative, underscoring China’s commitment to openness and international collaboration.

Cultural sociologist Yao Yu pointed out that this spirit of multicultural cooperation from the ancient Silk Road has been extended to today’s BRI, reflecting China’s open and inclusive approach to global engagement.

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