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Chinese spring festival brings China, Malawi closer

By Michael Phiri in Lilongwe, Malawi | | Updated: 2018-03-06 20:45

Spring Festival not only brings Chinese families together but also brings Chinese and Malawian friends together, China's ambassador to Malawi, Wang Shiting, said during a Feb 24 visit to celebrate China Day at a school in Malawi.

Over the past decade, since China and Malawi established diplomatic relations, people-to-people exchanges and heart-to-heart communication have been in full bloom, Wang said at the renowned Kamuzu Academy in Central Malawi's Kasungu District.

The envoy said exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, arts, tourism, journalism and academia have flourished between the two countries. More and more Malawian students are taking Chinese language courses and Chinese people are interested in visiting Malawi, which is dubbed as the Warm Heart of Africa.

Over 600 people, including officials from the education authority, the academy's top management, teachers and students attended the function, where students staged a performance to celebrate Chinese Spring Festival.

According to Wang, for more than 3,000 years the Chinese have been dating the years using animal signs that have been designed in a 12-year cycle. The animals represent a cyclical concept of time, rather than the western linear concept of time.

He said this is called a Chinese lunar calendar since it is based on the cycles of the moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the western solar calendar.

"In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. It's interesting that there are 12 Chinese zodiacs in China and 12 signs in the western culture. Traditionally, these Chinese dating methods are cyclical. This year, 2018, Chinese Spring Festival fell on Feb 16. This is the Year of the Dog, which means loyalty, diligence and happiness," Wang said.

The Chinese ambassador said the festival is the most important among the Chinese people as it is celebrated at the beginning of the traditional lunar calendar. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities, as well as ancestors, but the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day remains an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner.

The envoy praised the strong links being developed between China and Malawi, especially in language.

"Language is a bridge linking two countries. In my understanding, Chinese also can be a bridge between your present and future. Last year, six graduates with excellent academic backgrounds won the Chinese Government Scholarship. Now they are in different top-ranked Chinese universities for further studies," Wang said.

"Learning Chinese is not only interesting, but also useful. China is now the world's second largest economy and one of the most important development partners of Malawi. Chinese investment has made tremendous contributions to economic and social development in Malawi. Now many Malawians want to further their study in China or do business with Chinese partners. That's why you will find it easier to be employed with Chinese language proficiency. I sincerely hope that all of our Malawian friends can learn Chinese, appreciate Chinese culture and promote China-Malawi friendship," Wang said.

The Chinese Embassy in Malawi is enjoying good cooperation with Kamuzu Academy —a prestigious school built by Malawi’s founding president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Since 2010, China has dispatched five Chinese teachers, including Li Jiafang and Wang Hailu, who praised the relationship between China and Malawi as strong.

"Thanks to their efforts, the students here have easy access to Chinese language, and Kamuzu Academy has become the best Chinese language teaching spot in Malawi," Li said.

The academy has successfully held annual China Day events since 2015.

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