Chinese celebrations almost start without anthems

2015-03-16 09:40

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Guests attending the grand opening concert of the local celebration of China’s relations with South Africa had to improvise and sing the anthems of the two countries unaccompanied after a glitch meant the anthems weren’t played as planned.

There was silence for several minutes after the announcer asked the audience attending the concert in the State Theatre in Pretoria yesterday, to stand up for the playing of the anthems.

“Good things are worth waiting for,” the announcer said, but after it appeared that the anthems wouldn’t play, the audience was asked to do it themselves.

The crowd of more than 1300 diplomats, politicians and students sang both anthems with enthusiasm.

The rest of the concert proceeded without a glitch and featured performances by, among others, the Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra and the University of Pretoria Youth Choir, as well as solo performances by Chinese singer Zeng Yong and South African Ntombee Ngcobo.

China’s minister of culture, Luo Shugang, attended the concert and read a letter from president Xi Jinping from the People’s Republic of China to President Jacob Zuma.

In the letter, Jinping said in 2015 there would be a focus on China and South Africa working together closely and organising “activities in a wide range of areas, including economy and trade, culture, education, science and technology, tourism, et cetera”.

There will be more shows in major cities in South Africa’s nine provinces.

“The events will showcase China’s development journey and its achievements as well as the fruitful results of China-South Africa cooperation,” Jinping said in the letter.

“I am convinced that like the year of South Africa in China [in 2014], the year of China in South Africa will usher in another new chapter of people-to-people and cultural exchanges between our two countries.”

Zuma, in his letter, which was read by Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, thanked China for hosting South Africa last year.

Zuma wrote that his state visit, during which the two countries concluded the five-to-10 year programme on strategic cooperation, was a highlight for relations between the two countries in 2014.

This programme “will further assist us in consolidating and implementing the strategic high level programmes and agreements that we share,” Zuma wrote.

“We are looking forward to the display of China’s rich culture in South Africa.”

Mthethwa also asked the attendees to observe a minute of silence for his Cabinet colleague, Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane, who died in a car crash early yesterday morning.

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