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UPDATED: June 29, 2015 NO. 27 JULY 2, 2015
The Best of Hunan
Central China's Hunan Province makes a hit at this year's World Expo in Milan
By Ji Jing

The Golden Chrysanthemum Queen (COURTESY OF ZHONGXIN)

The Hunan Week held at the Expo Milano 2015 from June 19 to 23 showcased the province's distinctive charms to the rest of the world.

The opening ceremony of the event was held on June 20, coinciding with this year's Dragon Boat Festival. The traditional Chinese festival is celebrated in memory of Qu Yuan, an official and poet of the Chu State in the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.) who was exiled on false charges of treason. In despair, he committed suicide by jumping into the Miluo River in Hunan on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The festival is marked by racing boats and eating zongzi, sticky rice snacks wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Workers process dark tea in a factory in Anhua, Hunan (COURTESY OF ZHONGXIN)

Hunan was the third of the eight Chinese provinces and municipalities to host a week of activities during the 2015 World Expo. The fact that the Dragon Boat Festival fell during the province's week furnished it with special advantages with which to promote traditional Chinese culture.

On the opening day, organizers distributed 10,000 zongzi among the expo's attendees. They also invited the heads of 35 of the national pavilions present at the expo to make zongzi, taste Hunan dishes and drink liquor and fruit wine shipped directly from the province to Milan. Various artistic performances were staged in the course of the opening day, including local-style singing and dancing performances and a recitation of a poem by Qu.

Volunteers pose in front of the China Pavilion at the World Expo in Milan, which was designed to resemble billowing fields of wheat (COURTESY OF ZHONGXIN)

During the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco, Hunan Province displayed glazed, five-color porcelain from Liling as well as chrysanthemum stones and Dragon brand soy sauce from Liuyang. A century later, Hunan promoted the same local specialties in Italy's fashion capital.

The Golden Chrysanthemum Queen, a large chrysanthemum stone carving measuring 68 centimeters in diameter, was believed to be one of the most precious items displayed at the China Pavilion. This artifact was carved by two renowned artisans from a colorful chrysanthemum stone from Liuyang, the hardness of which matched that of gems.

Embroiders work onA Hundred Horses(COURTESY OF ZHONGXIN)

An impressive scroll of Hunan embroidery called A Hundred Horses was another major attraction. It was modeled on a homonymous painting by Giuseppe Castiglione, an Italian missionary and court painter who traveled to China during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The work was completed within 95 days by more than 20 Chinese female embroiderers led by master embroider Jiang Zaihong.

Also on show were porcelain, tea, cuisine, wine and fireworks from Hunan.

In addition to exhibiting local specialties, a number of business events were held in hopes of carrying out cooperation in multiple areas with European countries.

Nearly 100 enterprises in Hunan made an appearance at the expo, presenting themselves in different ways. For example, Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science and Technology Co. Ltd., a leading construction equipment maker headquartered in Changsha, capital of Hunan, which participated in the construction of the China Pavilion for this year's expo, held a promotional day for itself on June 18.

The Zhuzhou institute of Chinese rail giant CRRC Corp. and hybrid rice developer Yuan Long Ping Hi-Tech Agriculture Co. Ltd. based in Changsha also featured at the China Corporate United Pavilion, showcasing the creativity and sophisticated technology that characterize industry in the central province.

Presenting Hunan's beautiful scenery so as to attract more European tourists was also a priority for event organizers. Activities held to promote the tourist resorts of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Langshan Mountain and Ziquejie terraced fields were among the week's highlights.

(Photos courtesy of Zhong Xin unless otherwise stated)

Copyedited by Eric Daly  

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