On the morning of January 23, a night of rainfall ceased and gave way to clear skies just in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations, the “2016 Happy Chinese New Year in Valletta” Opening Ceremony, at Pjazza Teatru Rjal, which commenced with authentic drum and gong festive rhythms. The Ambassador of China to Malta, H.E. Mr Cai Jinbiao and his spouse, Prof Alexiei Dingli, Mayor of Valletta, Mr Ge Guang, Vice Counsellor, Anhui Provincial Department of Culture, Ms Zhao Xinshu, Deputy Director, Western Europe Affairs Section, Bureau of External Cultural Relations, Ministry of Culture of China, Dr Gavin Gulia, Chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) and Mr Paul Bugeja, Chief Executive Officer of MTA , Mr David M.Schembri, Mayor of Qrendi, the Ambassador of the Russian Federation H.E. Mr Vladimir Malygin, along with people from all walks of life and various Chinese enterprises, were amongst an audience of over 600 Maltese, Chinese residents and other foreigners, gathered to enjoy the Inauguration of “2016 Happy Chinese New Year in Valletta”.
In his opening speech, H.E. Mr Cai Jinbiao recalled that China and Malta have shared many years of fruitful co-operation, spanning multiple areas including Politics, Economy, Culture and Education, jointly attaining noticeable achievements. His Excellency said he was very pleased to be able to share the joyous celebrations for the Chinese New Year of the Monkey with everyone gathered at the Ceremony. First and foremost, he expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Hon. Dr. Joseph Muscat, Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta, for his letter conveying festive greetings on the occasion of the Chinese New Year. H.E. Cai Jinbiao extended his gratitude to all Government Departments for their immense support towards the realization of “Happy Chinese New Year” over the past ten years. Furthermore, His Excellency thanked the audience and Maltese Public in general, as well as the Sizhou Dramatic Theatre for bringing such a superb performance to Malta.
Prof. Alexiei Dingli mentioned that every year the “Happy Chinese New Year in Valletta” attracts over one thousand people to watch or take part in the various related activities, pointing out that opportunities for Maltese audiences to enjoy Chinese music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts performances have been made possible thanks to the close friendship that exists between China and Malta. Prof. Dingli added that the 450th Anniversary since the founding of Valletta is not only a commemorative event, but also an occasion which celebrates the people of Malta. He thanked the China Cultural Centre for its overall contribution, especially Mr Wang Yanjun, Director of the China Cultural Centre, for the special events organized for the “2016 Happy Chinese New Year in Valletta”. Moreover, he expressed his wish to collaborate further with the Centre on cultural activities and extended his festive greetings for the Chinese New Year.
Mr Wang Yanjun explained that “2016 Happy Chinese New Year in Valletta” has special significance as it not only marks the 10th consecutive year that the China Cultural Centre and Valletta Local Council have worked hand in hand on the branded “Happy Chinese New Year” annual event, but also celebrates the 450th Anniversary since the founding of Valletta. Mr Wang thanked the Maltese Government, especially the Valletta Local Council, for their great support to the “Happy Chinese New Year” project over the past ten years and expressed his wish to continue enriching the cultural life of the Maltese Nation through the pursuit of “ happiness, harmony, communication and sharing”, which motivates the Centre`s cultural endeavours.
Following the ceremonial speeches, Sizhou Dramatic Theatre from Anhui Province presented a performance rich in Anhui regional flavor, which included Huagudeng folk dance, Bianlian face-changing stunts and Whirling Bowls of Water traditional acrobatics. The lively rhythm of the Huagudeng dance, titled Fengyang is a Beautiful Place, resonated with the warm and hospitable temperament of the Maltese people, generating a genuine Chinese New Year ambience, while the exhilarating acrobatic acts sparked outbursts of roaring cheer and applause.
Thanks to the encouraging response of the jubilant audience, the performers overcame all fatigue and led another vibrant parade in the city centre after the show, joined by many who wished to prolong this uniquely enjoyable experience, bringing the Opening Ceremony to a festive climax as with a merry gathering of people whose comments on the spectacle were full of praise and admiration.
On this day, Malta`s One TV television station, the Xinhua News Bureau in Malta and other media reported the spectacular. Prior to commencing, Mr Wang Yanjun also accepted an interview by One TV, during which he gave background information on the concepts and customs of the Chinese New Year as well as details of this year`s series of events on this theme.
This year marks the 10th year in a row that the China Cultural Centre and Valletta Local Council have co-organized this branded event. Although the Centre retained the usual format for the grand opening of the series, featuring an inauguration ceremony, performance and street parades, it also introduced two brand new events to the themed series, namely the “Happy Chinese New Year Concert” and the “CCC Happy Chinese New Year Party”. Moreover, the Centre undertook a market-oriented approach to promote these events, injecting new energy in the established “Happy Chinese New Year” scheme. Another notable feature of the 2016 edition of this event is that the “Happy Chinese New Year” not only benefited from the sustained support of the Maltese Government, Chinese Embassy and Malta Tourism Authority, but also received generous help from local enterprises, particularly sponsorship from the majority of Chinese corporations based in Malta, including donations in the form of Chinese products, which in turn favours their promotion on the local market.
The “2016 Happy Chinese New Year” series continues beyond the Opening Ceremony, with a performance in Marsascala held in aid of charity on 24th January; the commercially organized “2016 Happy Chinese New Year Concert”, on 29th January; the amusements for the “2016 CCC Happy Chinese New Year Party”, on 30th January; the “Chinese New Year Film Reception”, on 2nd February and the forthcoming Chinese Corner, which is also on the theme of Chinese New Year. Other items in the series which have already passed or are currently open to the public include the “Chinese New Year Photography Exhibition: Tempo of China” and the “Inner Mongolia - A Land to Discover” Photography Exhibition on Bairin Left Banner region in Inner Mongolia. Needless to say, the Maltese public have much to feast their eyes on with the rich combination of themed cultural activities offered.