Fijians enjoy Chinese culture amid COVID-19 pandemic

SUVA (XINHUA) – “What an amazing culture it is. We really love Chinese culture and hope to have the chance to experience this wonderful culture when the COVID-19 crisis is over,” said Fijians who visited the China Cultural Centre in Fiji or attended the centre’s online Chinese culture activities.

Director of the China Cultural Centre in Fiji Sun Jie told Xinhua recently COVID-19 had serious impact on the centre’s culture activities, but they started doing what they can to promote Chinese culture during the current difficult times.

“China has a profound culture with a long history. And here in this South Pacific island nation, Fijians do love Chinese culture and they are eager to experience it,” he said.

“The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented, but just as what we usually say crisis also means opportunities. We have no choice but to adjust to the ‘new normal’ and do something to continue our culture promotion.”

According to Sun, they have been trying to use multimedia as a platform, namely the online course about Chinese culture, to introduce Chinese culture activities.

On the eve of the International Children’s Day, the centre worked together with Kunming Museum in southwest China’s Yunnan province to introduce the Portrait of the Earth exhibition through Facebook and WeChat and it made a hit. The vivid portraits of animals brought great happiness to children who had to stay at home due to the virus.

The centre also cooperated with the International School Suva to let the students from Grade 6 to 10, most of whom have never been to China, enjoy a first-ever online Chinese culture course.

“I really enjoyed the online tour because it was really enjoyable, exciting, fun and something new that I have never done before. I hope to see your work again,” said International School Suva student Rohan Zia Ludher.

Echoing Ludher’s views, Prasiddhi Dahal said, “It was amazing and it was really fun to learn about the Chinese culture. Hope we can go there in person.”

Another student Almira Zoya Haniff said, “The experience was really good and we learnt a lot of new things that gave us more knowledge. I really enjoyed this and I think we should do this more often to enlighten our knowledge.”

Sun said this year, the CELAP (China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong) senior training course for Fijian civil servants was carried out through online platform at the centre.

During the three-day online course, more than 20 Fijian officials from different ministries, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Parliament also had a special experience enjoying the Chinese movies, paintings exhibition, books, Chinese tea, table tennis and Tai Chi. Most of them have paid no visit to China and just as what they said it is really an unforgettable Chinese culture tour, Sun said, adding that many Fijians are keen to visit China in the post-COVID-19 pandemic.

“I have got a lot from the Chinese culture. All of us enjoyed the online course and the culture tour in the centre. We hope we will have more chances to attend the activities here in the future,” said Director for Training Division of Fiji’s Ministry of Civil Service Saleshni Naidu, who has been to China twice.

With the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, the centre is open to the public and there is a film showing every Saturday, which is popular with local Fijians.

Shirine Wazni, a 44-year-old Fijian woman, told Xinhua that, “I am very interested in Chinese culture, its art, the martial arts, the paintings, the food and of course the Chinese movies, which are touching with fun, sad tears, and can let us cry and laugh.”

Malakni Biu, a 70-year-old security guard, said, “I like the Chinese culture very much. It is really a nice culture and the movies here are often moving us.”

Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Qian Bo voiced his satisfaction with the Chinese culture promotion through online platform. “COVID-19 changed the way we work, study and live. From now on, we all have to learn how to adjust to the ‘new normal’. Online Chinese culture course and experience is no doubt an useful attempt,” he told Xinhua.

Hailing it as a great success, the ambassador, who also attended the CELAP senior training, hoped the Fijians will do what they can to strengthen the friendly cooperative relations between Fiji and China.