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China is coming! Days of Shanghai in St. Petersburg


Even thirty years on, the genuine breeze of Chinese culture – once deemed exotic here – is blowing through this window. Judge for yourselves. Only a few hundred Chinese lived on the banks of the Neva in the early 20th century. In the beginning of the 21st century – 20 thousand. And half a million tourists came here last year alone – even forcing the timetable monitor at the airport to “speak Chinese”. And they’ve come here not just for touristy sightseeing.


Andrey Bogdanov had performed at Mikhailovskiy Theatre for 25 years – now he is sharing his experience with graduates of Shanghai’s “New World” arts school. This is the first such masterclass, at such level. But, according to the teacher, interest to Russian ballet from the Chinese is growing every year. Just as the number of those willing to learn it here – in Russia.

Such cultural exchange will become frequent. Where else if not in St. Petersburg – the capital of ballet. And young graduates of the Chinese choreographic school are already acknowledging the benefits of St. Petersburg’s school.

According to statistics, students make up the majority of St. Petersburg’s Chinese. Fun fact – more than a thousand applications from China came to only 400 budget seats at University of St. Petersburg, primarily to humanitarian faculties. Moreover, education programs aimed at the Chinese students have been developed at the University.

But why such projects have been realized only know – considering we’ve been friends for a long time? To answer that question, went to Liteinyi prospect – the “Friendship Garden” – Shanghai’s gift to St. Petersburg on 300th birthday. Where we met sinologist Nikolay Vavilov, who told us about the peculiarities of the Chinese approach.

Confucius said – don’t proceed without asking for a way. Maybe these oriental words of wisdom have an analogy in a Russian idiom. Just like ancient Chinese engravings created an entire style within the European architecture.

“The pearl of the Baltic”. The most notable project between St. Petersburg and Shanghai. With the overall investment of over 30 billion rubles. And it was this venture which paved way for the Chinese business – resulting in an entire park created for the Chinese companies at LenExpo three years ago. Two pavilions and the biggest Chinese restaurant. All to build more bridges.

Memorabilia brought along with the delegations barely fits into a hall of a neighboring pavilion. And those are not just acts of diplomacy – rather a reminder that the friendship between the Russian and the Chinese cities began more than 30 years ago.

“I love St. Petersburg”. Pen Yinlai starts the lesson in Chinese with these words. She came to Russia three years ago, graduated from Petrozavodsk Conservatory and continues learning Russian. Reminiscing of the most difficult things about the move.

Yes, the so-called “Chinese threat” has been heard of quite a lot recently. There are almost two billion of them and we are only a tenth of that. That they would crush us and our culture. But we can vouch for exactly the opposite. Its not just friendship between St. Petersburg and China – its pure love. And you tend to preserve what you love. Those are not mere words, but feels like a genuine oriental philosophy.