Chinese culture, unity shine over water-themed Guangzhou Asiad opening

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What can you expect of the opening ceremony of the Guangzhou Asian Games after the stunning visual extravaganza presented by Beijing Olympics organizers two years ago?

The hosts of Guangzhou didn’t miss the opportunity to reach a wider global recognition, with a breakthrough demonstration of the Asiad’s values of “solidarity and progress” in the five-hour show called “Sailing”.


Dropping the common practice of holding an opening ceremony at a stadium, the Guangdong Games’ organizers moved the center stage onto a boat-shaped island Haixinsha on the Pearl River.

In the nimble hands of Chen Weiya, assistant director of the Beijing pageantry in 2008, his new production was centered on water, the soul of the host city’s coastal origins.

Before the show started, athletes, team officials and dignitaries arrived at the site by water following an hour of boat-cruise along the Pearl River.

“Four year ago in Doha, the Asiad’s flames rose from the desert, and four years later, we will start our Asian Games’ journey from here on the Pearl River,” said Chen.

“We try to present the beauty of life, the glory of civilizations and the hopes of future through water,” he said.

A drop of water fell down on the four huge sail-shaped LED screens to unveil the performances of the opening.

If the Beijing version lavished grand tribute on Chinese civilization in general, Chen’s team used a tightly-choreographed 70 minutes to portray the colorful history of Guangzhou from a fishing port to modern metropolis, an epitome of China’s revival.

Guangdong culture can be seen though the ceremony, from the little boy singing a local children’s song “Heavy Rainfall” on a green crystal palm leaf-shaped boat to a gigantic Red Kapok, the city flower of Guangzhou, in blossom on the water.

Local lifestyle, like fishing, boating, dragon dancing and the Guangdong opera performances, was depicted on a silk paintings unfolded on the huge screen, while later 520 performers played the Liede drum, a local instrument widely used in festival celebrations.

At the most exciting moment of the ceremony when Chinese Olympic diving gold medalist He Chong, a Guangdong native, ignited the basin-shaped cauldron, he adopted a most traditional Chinese way of celebration — lighting fireworks.


In the part of “The Ship in the Ocean”, 200 fishing women, with red fishing lanterns in hands, saw off their beloved ones on the seashore.

Later fishermen set sail with a big ship into the stormy sea, fought against the roaring waves and finally survived to see a peaceful sunrise shown on the LED screen.

“This part is a salute to those who make the Guangzhou’s success possible and to all the Asian people who never surrender in faces of dooms or disasters,” said Chen. “The ship is like Guangzhou, like China, and the whole Asia is sailing for a brighter future.”

Later, the part called “Time” recalled this development of Guangzhou and China with the ancient map rolling open on the LED screen.

Situated at the entry of the Pearl River into the South China Sea, Guangzhou represented the starting-point of the “Maritime Silk Road”, on which, trade of china, spices, tea and silk was conducted between China and the countries around the Persian Gulf since more than 2,000 years ago.

Since the reform and opening-up policy was launched in the late 1970s, development has been most intense in China’s coastal regions.

Riding on an economic boom, Guangzhou has been quickly transformed into a powerhouse of the country’s export-oriented economy, as a pioneer of the economic revolution.

The progress of Guangzhou was demonstrated along with the whole country’s development, when the landmark buildings, such as the 600-meter-tall New Guangzhou TV Tower, the Bird’s Nest of Beijing and the red China Pavilion of the Shanghai World Expo, appeared on the LED screen.

Yet, the ecstatic spectators gave the warmest round of applause to the 180 performers who wore white LED lights, when they formed the images of huddling, mountaineering, surfing and swimming, in front of the 80-meter high screen.


As a highlight of the opening, a water-converging ceremony spoke out all the Asian people’s hopes for unity and harmony.

Forty-five holy water girls, representing 45 Asian countries and regions, held glass containers with water collected from all major waterways of Asia, and poured the water into the holy fire basin who arose from the stage center.

Performers pushed four bridge arms toward the fire basin, and put the arms into a harmony-symbolized homocentric bridge, while dancers wearing costumes of different Asian countries formed a pattern of the emblem of Olympic Council of Asia under the bridge.

The images of smiling people from Asian countries and regions, old and young, men and women, slid though the screen as renowned buildings of each Asian country and region, from China’s Heavenly Temple to India’s Taj Mahal.

Liu Peng, president of the Games organization committee and Minister of the General Administration of Sport, hailed the values of Asiad in his opening speech.

“We find, the values promoted at those earlier Games – Solidarity, Friendship and Progress through sport – are as relevant today as they ever were,” he said.

However, a disappointment to the Games lovers, there was no joint parade of the Koreans in Guangzhou as they did last time in Doha.

The presence of the representatives from war-ravaged Afghanistan and Iraq somehow reinforced people’s faith in the Asiad on promoting peace and unity.

“It’s not just a participation, the aim for our team is to show the best ability and we are not taking it as a trip and only for joy,” Adil Fadhil, secretary general of Iraqi Olympic Committee, told Xinhua.