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Back in January, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised to increase his country’s soft power, vowing to spread Chinese values and expose people around the world to the best of Chinese culture. Cycle forward six months, and Xi is holding up his end of the bargain, if a state visit to Argentina is any indication.
Upon meeting Argentina’s vice president, Amado Boudou, in Buenos Aires this weekend, Xi was predictably presented with an Argentine soccer jersey with his name printed on the back. More interestingly, Xi’s gift in return was a selection of DVDs of hit Chinese TV shows and films, China Daily reported on Tuesday.
Previously, Chinese leaders had offered gifts of porcelain, silk and art. This was the first time DVDs had been part of the official state gifts, according to the report. Xi presented Boudou with DVDs of Zhao Baogang‘s acclaimed television series Beijing Youth and To Elderly With Love and 2011’s low-budget domestic hit film Love Is Not Blind by Teng Huatao.
Zhao is known as the Godfather of Soap Operas in China, where his TV output is required viewing. First aired in 2012, Beijing Youth tells the story of four young cousins and their complicated love lives, with the action veering between melodrama and all-out bromance. Beijing Youth captures the youthful zest of China and its embrace of modernity.
The more sedate To Elderly With Love, from 2013, is a 41-episode rumination on the subject of aging in Chinese society and how the “one child” policy generation struggles to care for their rapidly aging elders. It is a none-too-subtle exposition and promotion of the Confucian philosophy of close-knit family that is the backbone of Chinese culture.
Zhao told China Daily that he was “definitely very happy and honored” for his TV shows to be offered as state gifts. Zhao said: “Our leaders are taking our own cultural products with them as they visit the world. This is raising awareness to promote the cultural industry globally, because at this moment, our work still faces many walls to get out of the national gate.”
Teng’s romantic comedy Love Is Not Blind, a surprise box-office hit in 2011, tells the tale of a young woman recovering from the breakup of her relationship to question what it is to be in love who finds solace in her male friend. Love Is Not Blind is perhaps a more unusual choice as a gift, but China Daily says it shows how “modern China thinks and feels about love.”
Teng wasn’t immediately aware that his film had been chosen, but after confirming the news, he said: “They told me they wanted to choose works that reflect the modern China and the lives of youth living in today’s China.”
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Jamie Lee Curtis
Monday Night Football