By Marivir R. Montebon
“The rural culture is the foundation of Chinese society. The society will be ruined if the culture is uprooted. The rural culture is like the dreamland of the Chinese people.”
New York City — At the CUNY Murphy Institute on Tuesday, January 13, literary writers and playwrights from China visited the China – US Exchange Project of the Murphy Institute and shared their experiences and insights with writers of the National Writers Union – New York and CUNY professors. It was a brisk and substantive sharing, where in the advent of globalization, the Chinese people and government are making efforts to protect native Chinese cultures, dealing with farmer migration to the cities, and coping with digital technology through an enriching literature.
Project director Diane Frey welcomed four writers from the Zhejiang province who came here for a five-day cultural exchange program. They were: Zang Jun, a commentator and vice president of the Zhejiang Provincial Writers Association; Zhu Xiongwei, novelist and vice president of the Ningbo Writers Association; Wang Liansheng, also a novelist and vice president of the Hangzhou Writers Association, and Wang Tianqiang, translator and director of the Zhejiang International Cultural Association.
The US delegates were composed of members and leaders of the National Writers Union Larry Goldbetter and Tim Sheard and professors of the City University of New York, among them May Ying Chen and William Herbert.
The one-hour-and-thirty-minute encounter was sluggish because of the necessity of translation. However, the exchange had been insightful.
From the US side, curious questions included: Is the Chinese writer being paid well? How does Chinese society cope with globalization and urban migration? Do you deal with social issues in sci-fi novels and movies?
Mr. Wang Liansheng said that science fiction stories in print and in movies and TV are most popular in China, almost as widely acclaimed as the Star Wars and the Interstellar. He noted that social issues are being dealt with by another group of writers, mostly critics of policies and regulations.
The writers revealed that farmer migration to the cities have been a brisk trend in China, as a result of globalization.
Mr. Zhu Xiongwei said that the rural-urban migration has created a “nostalgia” in Chinese culture and tradition. Hence, migrant farmers, reaching about 600 million, have become a huge market for Chinese literature in the internet. To date, there are about 30,000 online writers in China who cater to the migrant farmer readership who are hooked to native literature.
Liansheng, for his part, said that writers in China are paid well by publishers when their work becomes well-accepted by the readers. His novel is currently being run as a TV series in his province.
Xiongwei said that the Chinese central government is protecting native cultures from the impact of globalization by funding local events and spaces (such as temples) and cultural practices so that these art forms and cultural traditions remain accessible to and practicable among the native citizens.
“The rural culture is the foundation of Chinese society. The society will be ruined if the culture is uprooted. The rural culture is like the dreamland of the Chinese people,” he said in English translation.
China currently stands as the world’s strongest economy and is home to the world’s biggest population of 1.3 billion.