On September 2nd, more than 30 journalists from nine Southeast Asian Internet media groups and a dozen Chinese media groups at both central and provincial levels visited Guangzhou, a global city with long and profound history, forming part of the Southeast Asian Media Greater Bay Area Tour.
[Video: Luo Zhongming, Wu Zejia, Jasmine Yin]
The journalists were introduced to the unique Cantonese culture and Guangzhou’s achievements in technology and innovation during their trip to Yongqingfang, the Cantonese Opera Art Museum, Development Exhibition Hall for Science Square in Guangzhou Development District, and Guangzhou Leafun Culture Science and Technology Co., Ltd.
Exploring Lingnan culture
The first place the tour group arrived at in the morning was Yongqingfang, home to the city’s trademark arcade houses and precious memories of Guangzhou as a two thousand years old commercial hub.
Journalists visit Yongqingfang. [Photo by Will]
The area, established in 1931, is a well-known center of Lingnan culture and Guangdong culture. In this area covering less than 8,000 square meters, you can find exhibition houses and a museum that showcase Canton porcelain, Canton embroidery and Cantonese opera as well as Bruce Lee’s ancestral home and many former residences of well-known figures.
In recent years, the façades of buildings located in Yongqingfang have been extensively renovated, but the original layout and special residences were preserved. Yongqingfang has since become a successful fusion of new and old, in keeping with current trends.
Two Cantonese opera performers take the stage at the museum. [Photo by Will]
The Cantonese Opera Art Museum located on Enning Road was a highlight of the trip. In the past famous Cantonese opera performers got together or lived in this neighborhood. Many Cantonese opera masters’ former residences were located around here, such as Ma Si Tsang and Hung Sin-nui.
It is said that: “Where there are Chinese people, you can hear Cantonese opera”, a saying that goes to show how popular Cantonese opera was and is still to be with overseas Chinese.
A large number of Cantonese Chinese emigrated to Southeast Asia, therefore many Cantonese opera troupes and artists also went to the region. Therefore, Southeast Asia is acclaimed as “the second hometown of Cantonese opera”.
Ms. Huang Hu Guiqing, Singaporean J.P. and famous Cantonese opera artist, said, “Cantonese opera has been in Singapore for more than 100 years, as can be traced through documents. In 1857, Cantonese opera performers set up a Cantonese opera association ‘Li Yuan Tang’ in Tofu Street. This proves that in the 19th century, Cantonese opera was quite popular in Singapore. In 1890, ‘Li Yuan Tang’ was renamed ‘Bahe Hall’”.
Journalists interview the performers. [Photo by Will]
For many journalists it was their first time visiting this museum and they enjoyed it very much. Ms. SU Ling Yi, Director of Chinese News Department of Sing Sian Yer Pao, said Thailand is one of the countries with the most overseas Chinese; there are many guild halls of Guangdong cities where they can enjoy Cantonese opera performances. SU pointed out that the trip gave her a chance to learn more about the root and inheritance of Cantonese opera.
Ms. HAN Yonghong, Vice Editor Chief of Lianhe Zaobao, told the reporter that many people enjoy watching Cantonese opera performance in Singapore, and renowned Cantonese opera artist Hung Sin-nui once performed in her country. “After visiting the museum and watching a performance, I have gained many more details about Cantonese opera.”
In 2009 the joint application by Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao was approved and Cantonese opera inscribed in 2009 on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Cantonese Opera Art Museum is committed to protecting, passing down and promoting the art of Cantonese opera, sharing the essence and charm of Cantonese opera and Lingnan culture through exhibitions, performances, cultural exchanges and education.
The Cantonese Opera Art Museum built with many traditional Lingnan architectural features offers themed exhibitions, a theater, garden and education spaces. It has attracted people from both home and abroad to watch Cantonese opera performances, such as a delegation of mayors from Western United States, Fortune Global Forum’s global media group, the spouses of Fortune Global Forum guests, and a delegation led by the former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. It continues to bring Cantonese opera to the global stage.
Leafun leading the “culture + technology” business
In the afternoon, the journalists visited the Exhibition Hall of Science Square and Guangzhou Leafun Culture Science and Technology Co., Ltd. to learn about how Guangzhou-based enterprises became leaders in new forms of business based on cultural experiences.
Journalists watch a holographic video at Leafun. [Photo by Will]
You might not be familiar with Leafun, but you must have heard about the National Center for Performing Arts in Beijing, the Guangzhou Opera House and the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. These are only some of Leafun’s clients and projects.
Leafun Culture Science and Technology Co., Ltd., established in 1997, is specialized in culture and creative industries. With the philosophy of integrating culture with technology, it provides customers with innovative solutions and thorough technical support for artistic and cultural performances, cultural facility construction, culture and leisure tourism, cultural exhibitions, and urban cultural landscapes based on its expertise in professional audio devices, lighting, video products and integrated control.
Journalists view a drone by EHang at the Exhibition Hall. [Photo by Will]
Journalists view a robot arm at the Exhibition Hall. [Photo by Will]
At the Development Exhibition Hall for Science Square in Guangzhou Development District, the up-to-date technology products manufactured by Huangpu District attracted the journalists’ attention. They were wowed by the VR and AR technology, drones, industrial robots, and palm print recognition technology.
Over the next few days, the journalists will go to Dongguan, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Zhongshan so as to gain a greater understanding as to the latest achievements in the development of the Greater Bay Area.
Authors: Monica, Michelle
Editors: Wing, Simon