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Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries
Cultural exchanges with other countries are an integral part of China's relations with the world. On the eve of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, a theatrical troupe was sent abroad. Since this modest beginning, the nation's activities in the sphere of cultural exchange have developed rapidly. In 1951 China signed its first agreements with other countries to promote cultural cooperation and plan for specific cultural exchanges. Since the introduction of the policy of reform and opening to the outside world in 1979, cultural exchange has been stepped up enabling China's activities in this sphere to rise to a new height. As of 1995, China had signed agreements with 133 countries affirming cultural cooperation, and had close cultural relations with more than 160 countries and regions. The phrase "cultural exchange" describes communication in a variety of fields including culture, arts, education, sports, science, public health, journalism, publishing, archeology, religion, broadcasting as well as exchanges of books between museums and involving young people. Chinese troupes performing Peking opera; acrobatics, song and dance, traditional music and local operas and exhibitions of artifacts, paintings, sculpture and arts and crafts have been greeted with great enthusiasm by friends all over the world. Peking opera in particular seems to fascinate many audiences with its brilliant blending of singing, dancing, acrobatics and music. China's movies, acrobatics, singing and dance have all won prizes in international competitions. Artists from abroad have likewise frequently performed and exhibited to appreciative audience in China. China's stages have been graced by the works of world-famous composers played by celebrated symphonies from all round the world, as well as classical and modern dance, theater, ballet and folk music. Moreover, the Chinese people can now enjoy many critically acclaimed foreign films. Art exhibitions have also been well received. In 1995 alone, the Chinese government sent 13 cultural delegations and teams of cultural officials to visit over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. Meanwhile, cultural delegations and teams of cultural officials visited China from 20-some countries. Outstanding achievements have been made in multi lateral cultural exchanges. In the same year China sent nearly 200 people in 30 groups to take part in international art competitions, including acrobatics, ballet, singing and music performances. They won six gold, three silver, five bronze and 12 special medals. Non-governmental cultural exchanges are very active; non-governmental cultural exchange items account for 93 percent and 91 percent respectively of Chinese performances and exhibitions abroad, and over 90 percent of visiting art performances and exhibitions.

As China opens wider and wider toward the outside world, cultural exchanges with other countries will certainly increase in number and variety. In recent years, a potpourri of international folk art activities are to be found all over China, attracting thousands of foreigners and artists. These include, to name a few, the first, second and third international folk art festivals in 1990, 1992 and 1994, respectively, and the annual Weifang International Kite Festival, '94 Sichuan International Folk Art Festival, '94 Shenyang International Yangge Festival, Second Shanghai International Film Festival and the Second Chinese Quyi Festival held in 1995. Activities such as these can only help to promote understanding and friendship between the Chinese and the rest of people sharing the earth.

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