A 30-second video designed to highlight the friendship between the U.S. and China began playing this week on a large screen that overlooks Times Square ahead of Xi Jinping's arrival at the White House on Friday during his first visit to the United States as China's president.
The video, made by the The Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, one of China’s foreign affairs organizations, begins with a Chinese woman guiding the hand of a white woman dressed in a traditional qipao as she learns to trace the Chinese characters for “America” and “China” with a writing brush.
To depict the blending of Chinese and American culture, the video later shows the western woman performing a Chinese folk art number, followed by a Chinese man dressed as a cowboy dancing in cowboy boots. Toward the end, as their makeup and traditional garb are removed in fast motion, the woman and man are seen again in casual wear, seated together on a train as the man points out the passing sights to the woman.
It ends with the words: “China and U.S., different but not distant.”
The video was shown six times an hour between Sept. 22 and Sept. 24, and will be broadcast 10 times every hour between Sept. 25 and Sept. 29, according to the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York.
The intention behind the video, displayed on an LED screen leased China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency since 2011, received mostly positive reviews from passers-by in Times Square.
Toos van der Wal, who was visiting from the Netherlands with her husband, said broadcasting a video like this is a step toward improving relations between the U.S. and China.
“I think China now is open to doing things like that,” said van der Wal, 79, who has visited the country. “At least they’re trying.”
For Simon Si, a Chinese American, the mere mention of the video brought a smile to his face.
“Actually, it’s good,” said Si, adding that he likes Xi because “he’s a hard worker.”
Tommy Hughes, who was visiting from Ireland and on vacation with his wife Rose, expressed similar sentiments about the video — but with one qualification.
“It’s alright if they’re showing the real China,” he said.