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Introduction

"A Date with China" International Media Tour 2024invites media correspondents and internet influencersto explore the provinces of Fujian and Shandong.

May 15-21 – Quanzhou and Zhangzhou in Fujian

June 1-7– Qingdao, Jining, and Weihai in Shandong

A date with old quarries-turned-ecological park in Weihai
A pair of photos showcasing what Huaxiacheng Scenic Area looked like before and after the massive transformation project in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Weihai, a coastal city sitting on the tip of the Shandong Peninsula, wowed a cohort of foreign journalists and influencers with its clean oceans, leisured coastal lifestyle and vibrant folk culture, during their three-day media tour from June 5 to 7.

Huaxiacheng Scenic Area, the last stop featured in the "A Date with China–Meet Shandong" international media tour, turned out to be a jaw-dropper.

Upon stepping on the 370-meter-long glass bridge that towers to the height of 80 meters, few can breathe normally on this structure evocative of the last game in Squid Game. Above the head are the blue sky and white clouds, near and dear. Beneath the feet are lush willows waving in the wind.

Yet, the bridge serves as a vantage point to take in the picturesque beauty of this national AAAAA scenic area (the country's highest rating), which, to the surprise of virtually every visitor, used to be old quarries 20 years ago.

This photo taken on June 7, 2024, shows a bird’s-eye view of the Huaxiacheng Scenic Area in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Adorned by more than 30 pits-turned lakes, the vast mountainous area is densely covered by around 12.3 million trees planted since 2003. The wide expanse of greenery and water is punctuated by lofty ancient-style architectural complexes, giving tourists a historical feel.

According to Zou Chunde, assistant general manager of Huaxia Group, the Longshan Mountain, where Huaxiacheng is located, was ravaged by 44 quarries late last century. Residents were so troubled by dust and noise pollution and the risk of landslides that many fled.

The devastated mountain pained Xia Chunting, chairman of the conglomerate Huaxia Group, a native of the region.

The entrepreneur, who made a fortune from his concrete business and served as a deputy to the National People's Congress from 2003 to 2013, wrote to the Weihai government several times calling for an end to quarrying in the Longshan Mountain and a start to ecological restoration.

A pair of photos showcasing what the open-air theater at the Huaxiacheng Scenic Area looked like before and after the massive transformation project in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

With the approval from the Weihai government, Xia started treating and greening the quarrying-torn area in 2003.

Xia's decision was met with opposition from his family and colleagues who couldn't understand why he poured money into mountains from which others achieved wealth through quarrying.

"My heart was broken when I saw the beautiful and peaceful place of my childhood was damaged. I wanted to restore it to let our children enjoy it," Xia said.

To realize his vision, the entrepreneur spent all of the money he has made in his career and ended up in debt.

As of 2023, 5.16 billion yuan ($711 million), including 1.925 billion yuan of bank liabilities, had been invested in treating and greening the old quarries as well as building them into the popular leisure destination that it is today.

A bird’s-eye view of the Huaxiacheng Scenic Area in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

In 2020, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment recognized Huaxiacheng as a national example embodying the concept that "lucid waters and lush mountains can be mountains of gold and silver".

Huaxiacheng's breathtaking beauty and the awe-inspiring efforts behind its creation are often compared with those of the Butchart Gardens, a 120-year-old world-renowned leisure garden in Canada, which was initially built on the site of an exhausted limestone quarry measuring 12 hectares.

"The most ravaged 16 quarries of the 44 quarries in the Longshan Mountain measured 62.4 hectares, which is 5.2 times the size of the Butchart Gardens, which shows how hard Xia's venture was," Zou said.

The 370-meter-long glass bridge at the Huaxiacheng Scenic Area in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Opened to the public in 2010, Huaxiacheng has kept fine-tuning the tourist experience by blending natural beauty with museums, exhibitions, and theater performances that showcase Chinese traditional culture, marine culture and Jiaodong folk culture.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million people visited Huaxiacheng, generating around 200 million yuan.

Local communities have been the first beneficiaries of the improved ecological environment. The tourism project has provided jobs to more than 1,130 villagers nearby, with average annual incomes exceeding 40,000 yuan, according to the Huaxiacheng management office.

Chinese culture fans visit Confucius' hometown

Recently, "A Date with China· Meet Shandong" international media delegation went to Jining, the hometown of Confucius, and experienced the rich Chinese culture and Confucianism carried by this ancient and charming city.

In Jining, the group of foreign reporters and influencers visited the Confucius Museum, which has a large collection of cultural relics and historical materials related to Confucius and his thought. They were deeply moved by the wisdom and thought of Confucius and praised the profound influence of this great philosopher on later generations.

The Kong Family Mansion and the Confucius Temple also left a deep impression on foreign friends. As the residence of Confucius' descendants, the Kong Family Mansion showcases the history and inheritance of the Confucius family. The Confucian Temple is the temple of worship of Confucius, and its solemn atmosphere made the members of the group feel the solemn and sacred Confucian culture.

During the trip, the members of the press also experienced the traditional handicrafts of Jining. They learned the skills of block printing, Lu brocade embroidery, shadow puppet-making and thread-bound book making, and made exquisite handicrafts by hand. These activities let them have a deeper understanding of Jining's traditional culture and the inheritance of intangible cultural heritage skills.

The members of the international media said Jining is a city full of historical heritage and cultural charm. They were surprised by the breadth and depth of Confucian culture and attracted by the wisdom and thought of Confucius. At the same time, they also deeply felt the Jining people's love and inheritance of traditional culture.

The visit not only allowed the world to have a deeper understanding of Jining's traditional culture and Confucianism, but also injected new vitality into the cultural dissemination and tourism development of Jining.

Experience Weihai beaches at sunset
By Li Xin

From June 5 to 7, a group of foreign reporters and influencers based in China visited Weihai in East China's Shandong province and experienced the unique customs of this coastal city.

In Dongchudao village, the members first enjoyed Weihai's unique traditional houses built with seaweed as the roof and stones as the wall, not only showing the wisdom and creativity of Weihai people but also reflecting the harmonious coexistence between human and nature. Walking in the alleys of the village, they felt the strong historical and cultural atmosphere.

In Quge village, the group watched the wonderful performance of fishermen's drums as the sound of drums shook the sky and aroused people. After the performance, they also observed the production of Jiaodong intangible heritage flower cake. Under the guidance of the villagers, they knead the dough, and in a short time, a lifelike flower cake was born. This traditional skill not only made the Chinese and foreign journalists feel the hard work and wisdom of Jiaodong people, but also enhanced the understanding and recognition of Chinese culture.

In the evening, the tour members went to the beach and enjoyed the magnificent sunset. People took out their cameras to record the beauty. At the same time, they also experienced the unique fishing activities. Under the leadership of the villagers, everyone carried buckets and shovels, looking for various seafood on the beach. With laughter and fun, everyone not only harvested a lot of seafood, but also felt the gift and abundance of the ocean.

The group immersed themselves in the profound cultural heritage and unique natural scenery of the city, saying that the trip was not only a visual feast, but also a refresh. They said they look forward to coming to Weihai again in the future and continuing to explore more of the charm of the city.

Expats soak up Duanwu fun in Shandong
By Yang Xiaoyu
Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, a Shanghai-based Afghan content creator, poses for photo holding a zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of foreign reporters and influencers based in China learned to make zongzi, or glutinous rice dumplings, on Friday in Weihai, East China's Shandong province, to familiarize themselves with Duanwu, or the Dragon Boat Festival, a traditional festival celebrated across China on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the lunar calendar.

"I had so much fun making zongzi! It was such an interesting process, and I absolutely loved it," said Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, an Afghan content creator based in Shanghai.

Hashem said in his culture, festivals and celebrations are also often marked by specific traditional foods that hold cultural significance. Special foods are prepared and enjoyed during Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting in Islam, said the young Afghan.

Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily, is guided to make a zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"I found it (making zongzi) really hard. I'm not very good at intricate things but I enjoyed it. It was fascinating to learn how it is made," said Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily.

Ive noted dolmas, a popular dish featuring vine leaves stuffed with rice, meat and fresh herbs in Mediterranean cuisine is similar to zongzi.

He also learned that Duanwu is a festival for commemorating Qu Yuan, a great patriotic poet and politician during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily, poses for a photo with a plate of zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"There are similarities to some British or European cultures where people pay homage to people who have done good things for the county to convey messages of goodness and doing the right thing," he said.

Ive cited D-Day as an example. "D-Day is for remembering those who fought against Nazi Germany during World War II," he said.

D-Day was the name given to June 6, 1944, the day on which the British, US and other Allied armies landed on the beaches at Normandy in northern France.

Members of the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour, learn to make zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney learns to make zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Members of the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour, learn to make zongzi in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 7, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Tanzanian journalist embraces Chinese tea culture

Tanzanian journalist Gloria Agapiti Michael Meiseyeki embarked on a tea-making journey on Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, trying her hand at tea processing from start to finish. Gloria believes tea culture's true value lies in its people and the invaluable legacy that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Weihai takes media guests on a date by the sea
By Yang Xiaoyu
Members of the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour pose for a group photo with freshly harvested oysters at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Located in the easternmost tip of East China's Shandong Province, Weihai is hugged by the Yellow Sea on three sides, boasting almost 1,000 kilometers of golden coastline laced with serene mountain landscapes.

A group of foreign reporters and social media influencers based in China visited the coastal city from Wednesday to Friday to explore what the rising star in China's tourism market can offer.

Driven by social media and short video platforms, Weihai's tourism industry saw explosive growth last year, with the city of just 2.92 million residents welcoming over 59 million visits from tourists, according to official data.

Nick Ive (middle), a British editor with China Daily, holds an octopus cultured at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Their first stop is the Dongchu Island in Rongcheng, a county-level city in Weihai, where the ocean-scented scenery is punctuated by the region's unique seaweed-roofed houses.

"I've never seen a roof made of seaweed, which is incredible to see. We have thatch tiles in England, but they are made of straw," said Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily.

He was glad to learn that seaweed serves as good insulation to keep the houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Desca Lydia Natalia, a journalist with Antara, Indonesia’s national news agency, holds a puffer fish at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The group then visited the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch, a hot family-friendly tourist destination to experience marine farming.

"Visiting Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch was a pleasant experience because I could see and experience firsthand how clams, abalone, octopus and even puffer fish are cultivated," said Desca Lydia Natalia, a journalist with Antara, Indonesia's national news agency.

"This experience not only enhanced my understanding but also provided enjoyment, as I could directly eat clams and abalone freshly harvested from the sea. On the way to and from the ranch, I even had the opportunity to feed the seagulls."

One of the homestays that the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour group stayed in the Linjialiu village in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province. [Photo by Yang Xiaoyu/chinadaily.com.cn]

Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch receives about 80,000 tourists every year since it was established in 2015, according to Yu Yongchao, manager of the ranch's tourism sector. "There are four or five marine ranches in Weihai and it holds great appeal to tourists from inland areas. Visiting the marine ranch has become one of the must-dos in Weihai," he said.

Desca said that her favorite experience was living in a homestay in Weihai.

"While staying in a hotel is comfortable, a homestay offers a different experience, especially since the yard is large and full of flowers, making it feel like home," said the Indonesian journalist.

The homestay that accommodated Desca is located within the Linjialiu village, just a stone's throw away from the beach.

"In the middle of the housing complex, there are gardens, wheat fields and other agricultural land. This setting provides an escape from the business of big cities like Beijing," she said.

Two members of the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour enjoy freshly harvested oysters at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Desca said that her country is a maritime country and also has many beautiful beaches, some of which feature homestays within local houses, such as in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara province and Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara province.

"So, when I stayed in the homestay, the atmosphere reminded me of Indonesia," she added.

During the tour, the group also went beachcombing at dusk, immersing themselves in the coastal fun.

Ngo Thi Bich Thuan, a journalist with Voice of Vietnam, checks out the kelp cultured at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
A member of “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour holds a sea cucumber cultured at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Members of the “A Date with China – Meet Shandong” international media tour harvest oysters at the Sanggou Bay Marine Ranch in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney combs a beach in Weihai, East China’s Shandong province, on June 5, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Deep dive into tea culture of Laoshan Mountain
By Sun Ru
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of China-based foreign correspondents and social media influencers paid a visit to the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on Thursday, to embark on a unique journey of tea culture.

The delegation didn't just tour the tea plantations; they engaged in hands-on tea picking, joined the production procedures, and fostered meaningful dialogues with indigenous tea craftsmen.

Gloria Agapiti Michael Meiseyeki, a journalist from Tanzania, said they usually drink black tea in her country, and she wants to try green tea here.

Nataliia Liublinskaia, a journalist from Russia, wanted to bring some green tea back to her family, and said this was her first time seeing tea trees, "I used to think that tea trees were taller, but I didn't expect them to be this short."

Luke Johnston, a British online content creator, said he started drinking more tea in China and found that there are wide varieties, such as green tea, Pu'er tea, and Longjing tea.

Laoshan tea is known as the most famous tea in the north of the Yangtze River. At present, the planting area of Laoshan tea is about 20,000 acres, with an annual output of over 1,500 tons and a value of over 600 million yuan ($82.82 million).

A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China international media tour visits the Laoshan Mountain in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, to explore the tea culture on June 6, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
International media tour engages in straw weaving crafts in Shandong
A Date with China media tour visits the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Members of the 2024 A Date with China international media tour embarked on a visit to the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province, getting a glimpse of the rich cultural beauty and allure of the local handicrafts.

During their time at the pavilion, the tour participants learned about the history of Xinhe's straw weaving technology, which boasts a legacy spanning over 400 years. They also had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the art of crafting straw weaving, an intangible cultural heritage in Shandong.

Gloria Agapiti Michael Meiseyeki, a journalist from Tanzania, drew parallels between the techniques used in Xinhe and those in her home country, noting that while similar methods are employed, the materials differ, with bark being a common alternative.

"I used to make such bags when I was a kid. They were easy to wash," Gloria shared while recalling creating bags akin to those on display at the exhibition hall.

A local handicraftsman works on a bag at the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Exhibits are on display at the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Xinhe Straw Weaving Pavilion in Pingdu, East China's Shandong province on June 5, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Lujin enchants international journalists, influencers in Shandong
By Yang Xiaoyu
Members of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, learn to make traditional Chinese knot-buttons at the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Lujin, or Lu Brocade, is hand-woven brocade with pure cotton popular in southwest Shandong province that traces back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

A group of foreign journalists and influencers based in China visited the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China's Shandong province on Tuesday to explore and experience the techniques associated with the ancient fabric, which was recognized as a national-level intangible cultural heritage in 2008.

Hao Qiuxia (right), founder of the Museum of Lu Brocade, teaches Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, an Afghanistan content creator based in Shanghai, to make health-preserving hammer containing medicinal herbs in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Under the guidance of Hao Qiuxia, a local lujin inheritor who founded the museum in 2015 - in which the building used to be her family's ancestral house - media guests tried their hand at turning cotton into yarn on the spinning wheel and weaving lujin fabric on the loom. They also learned to make pankou (traditional Chinese knot buttons) and health-preserving hammer containing medicinal herbs at the museum's intangible cultural heritage workshop.

Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, an Afghanistan content creator based in Shanghai, learns to make lujin on a loom at the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"I really enjoyed these hands-on activities, which gave me a deeper understanding of Chinese history and culture. These experiences showcased the exquisite craftsmanship and allowed me to appreciate the wisdom and creativity of the ancients. It was truly an unforgettable experience," said Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, an Afghanistan content creator based in Shanghai.

"I find lujin absolutely fascinating. The intricate designs and vibrant colors are stunning, and the skill required to produce such beautiful textiles is impressive," he said, adding that there are traditional textiles like Afghan carpets and embroideries in his country, which also involve intricate designs and skilled craftsmanship.

Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney is dressed in a hanfu made of lujin in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"Lujin feels close to me. It looks plain but feels very comfortable," said Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney, dressed in a hanfu made of lujin. Mahoney, who is also a second-year student majoring in Chinese Language and Literature at East China Normal University, has a fascination with traditional Chinese clothing and costumes of various ethnic groups in China.

"Recent years have witnessed a hanfu frenzy on social media, but the popular hanfu styles are mostly those from the wardrobe of the noble and well-to-do families in ancient China," Mahoney noted. "I have been curious about what hanfuthat common people wore in the past. Lujin-made hanfu is probably the answer and it looks very charming."

Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney learns to turn cotton into yarn on the spinning wheel at the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China's Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

According to Hao, lujin became a daily necessity for commoners with the introduction of herbaceous cotton into the Central Plains of China since after the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

One of the five most famous brocades in China (the others are yunjin from Nanjing in Jiangsu province, shujin from Sichuan province, songjin from Suzhou in Jiangsu province and zhuangjin from the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region), lujin is the only brocade made of cotton while the others of silk.

Shanghai-based American vlogger Lile Song Mahoney learns to make health-preserving hammer containing medicinal herbs at the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A total of 72 processes are involved in making lujin and ancient artisans could weave more than 1900 different patterns with 22 basic colors. Auspicious motifs from daily life, and ancient totems are used as lujin patterns, Hao introduced.

Hao's museum also offers hands-on courses on techniques associated with lujin-weaving and hanfu-making, which are popular among students and people enthusiastic about traditional Chinese cultural heritage, said the inheritor.

Members of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour learn to make health-preserving hammer containing medicinal herbs at the Museum of Lu Brocade located in Jiaxiang county of Jining city in East China’s Shandong province on June 4, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Exploring motion capture magic in Qingdao

Danish content creator Julie Odsgaard Laursen and British content creator Luke Johnston immersed themselves in the enchanting realm of motion capture technology at the China Movie Metropolis in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on Tuesday. Join them as they explore the innovation at the core of modern filmmaking.

A journey through intangible heritages in Qingdao

Embarking on a cultural voyage in Qingdao, the A Date with China international media tour members immersed themselves in the essence of Qingdao's intangible heritages, from calligraphy and tea ceremonies to guqin (a traditional seven-stringed zither) and seal carving.

Spanish reporter Guillaume Benavides Moine found himself touched by the art of calligraphy, emphasizing the significance of understanding such cultural treasures to truly learn about China.

Qufu serves up buffet of hands-on experience for media guests
By Yang Xiaoyu
Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, learn to make shadow puppets in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of foreign correspondents and social media influencers based in China visited Qufu, a county-level city of Jining in East China's Shandong province, from Sunday to Monday, to explore and discover the fascinating aspects of the birthplace of the renowned ancient Chinese philosopher, Confucius.

The media guests were offered an opportunity to engage in a slew of hands-on activities featuring intangible cultural heritage of the region, providing them with a deeper understanding of the local customs and craftsmanship associated with the legacy of Confucius.

These activities included learning the art of making Kong Family pastries, experiencing the traditional Kong Family Mansion shadow puppetry, practicing the technique of stone rubbing, and making thread-bound books.

Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, tries his hand at the Kong Family Mansion shadow puppetry in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Thamer Ali Jasim, an Iraqi journalist, learns to make the Kong Family pastry under the guidance of a chef in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, learns to make the Kong Family pastry in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Members of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, learn to make thread-bound books in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily, poses for a photo with a stone rubbing he made in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, poses for a photo holding the stone rubbing and thread-bound book he made in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Alexander Balitskiy (right), a Russian reporter based in China, learns about stele inscriptions and stone rubbings from a local tour guide in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Alexander Balitskiy (right), a Russian reporter based in China, tries his hand at stone rubbing in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Haier wows media with smart manufacturing
The A Date with China media tour pays a visit to the headquarters of Haier Group in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of China-based foreign correspondents and social media influencers paid a visit to the headquarters of Haier Group in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, on Monday.

The visit was part of the "A Date with China 2024: Meet Shandong" international media tour.

They first visited the Haier's predecessor - the Qingdao Refrigerator Factory. Since it was established in 1984, Haier Group has established 10 major research and development centers, 71 research institutes, 35 industrial parks, 143 manufacturing centers, and a sales network of 230,000 worldwide.

In 2017, Haier Group launched the Haier COSMO Plat, one of the first smart manufacturing demonstration platforms in China, which has driven industrial manufacturing towards more intelligent and efficient large-scale personalized customization.

The platform allows customers who order Haier-branded air conditioners to design products themselves. With buyers' permission, the platform can also monitor the operation of air conditioners, give energy saving tips and identify faults.

The platform has connected 900,000 enterprises, covered 15 industries, and served 160,000 companies. By 2023, it had benefited 5,000 companies in Qingdao, generating an additional output value of 35 billion yuan ($4.83 billion).

To date, the Haier COSMOPlat has empowered manufacturing enterprises in several cities in Shandong, including Jinan, Zibo, and Dongying. The industrial powerhouse is accelerating its transition from "Made in China" to "Intelligent Manufacturing in China".

Confucian ceremony enthrall foreign journalists, influencers in Shandong
By Yang Xiaoyu
The daily gate opening performance is held at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China's Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China's Shandong province, played host to a group of international journalists and influencers on Monday as part of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour. The group had the opportunity to delve into the rich history and cultural significance of this ancient seat of learning.

Their visit began with the captivating gate opening performance, followed by witnessing the solemn Confucius memorial ceremony and learning to perform the yiwu, a dance form used in sacrificial rites in ancient China.

Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, practices the yiwu dance at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Confucius (551-479 BC) was the first Chinese person to set up private schools and enroll students from all walks of life. His disciples collected many of his sayings and quotations and compiled them into a book known in English as the Analects, which continues to have deep influence over Chinese culture and society.

Every September 28 marks the grand sacrificial rite, a celebration of the birthday of Confucius, at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, his hometown. In 2006, the Sacrificial Rite in the Confucius Temple was recognized as a national-level intangible cultural heritage.

A Confucius memorial ceremony is held at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Nick Ive, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, practice the yiwu dance at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Sirerol Gonzalez Noel, a member of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, practices the yiwu dance at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Members of the "A Date with China 2024 – Meet Shandong" international media tour, practice the yiwu dance at the Confucius Temple in Qufu, East China’s Shandong province, on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Media guests explore Confucius Museum in Qufu
By Yang Xiaoyu
Foreign correspondents and social media influencers show their Chinese calligraphy works at the launch ceremony of the "A Date with China 2024: Meet Shandong" international media tour in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of China-based foreign correspondents and social media influencers visited the Confucius Museum on Sunday in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province.

The visit was part of the "A Date with China 2024: Meet Shandong" international media tour, co-hosted by the Information Office of Shandong Provincial People's Government and China Daily Website.

Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily, learns to play zhong (bells) at the Confucius Museum in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

At the museum, located in the birthplace of Confucius, guests learned about the life and teachings of the renowned Chinese philosopher. They explored the chaotic Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) during which Confucius lived, his profound influence on Chinese civilization and how his teachings have impacted the world.

Guests also enjoyed the performance of yayue, literally "elegant music", which is Chinese court music that first developed in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC). Based on Shi Jing (The Book of Songs) and performed with ancient Chinese instruments such as zhong (bells), qing (chime stones) and guqin (Chinese zither), yayue is an essential part of Confucianism.

Nick Ive poses for a photo in front of a Confucius statue at the Confucius Museum in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"Everyone in the West knows Confucius as an ancient philosopher but I am not very sure how much they do know about him. All we know is that he was an ancient philosopher," said Nick Ive, a British editor with China Daily.

Ive said the museum tour enabled him to learn more about the sage's teachings, philosophy and unique outlook on life. "This trip got me very interested and I will certainly read more about Confucius," he said. "When someone is that revered, not just in China but particularly in China, there is a reason for that and so I want to look into that a bit more."

Running through June 7, the media tour will take guests to Jining, Weihai and Qingdao, exploring Shandong's rich cultural and historical heritage, high-technology industries, and efforts in conserving and utilizing marine resources.

Nikolay Petrov, a Russian journalist, shows a traditional local papercut, which is a gift he received at the Confucius Museum in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Thamer Ali Jasim, an Iraqi journalist, learns to play  qing (chimed stones) at the Confucius Museum in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Mohammad Hashem Mohammadi, an Afghanistan content creator, learns to play guqin (Chinese zither) at the Confucius Museum in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 2, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Kong Xiangsheng (middle), a renowned calligrapher and a descendant of Confucius, teaches foreign correspondents and social media influencers Chinese calligraphy in Qufu of Jining city, East China's Shandong province on June 1, 2024. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
A date with Tsingtao Beer Museum
By Sun Ru
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Members of the A Date with China international media tour visited the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on Monday, getting a closer look at the history and current development of Tsingtao Brewery Co Ltd.

Tsingtao Brewery, founded in August 1903 in Qingdao as the Germania-Brauerei Tsingtao Co Ltd by German and British merchants, has become the fifth-largest beer producer in the world with products exporting to more than 120 countries.

By the end of 2023, Tsingtao Brewery had built more than 60 breweries in 20 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions across China, leading the domestic beer industry in terms of both company scale and market share.

In 2023, the company realized a total sales volume of 8.01 million kiloliters with a record-high income of 33.94 billion yuan ($4.69 billion), up 5.5 percent year-on-year.

As one of the earliest breweries in China, Tsingtao Brewery was an official sponsor for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and is now among the world's top 500 brands.

A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
The Tsingtao Beer Museum. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
A Date with China media tour visits the Tsingtao Beer Museum in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province on June 3, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
'A Date with China' media tour to visit Shandong

 

Frenchman's apprenticeship at Fujian Tulou

French influencer Jeremy Grinan stood before the 108-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Tulou in East China's Fujian province, embarking not on a mere visit, but an apprenticeship with Chen Jingying, a Tulou homestay proprietor.

Immersed in the UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its fortress-like structures capable of accommodating numerous families, Jeremy learned a lot about the unique lifestyle of Tulou from Chen.

Click the video to uncover his journey.

Discovering Zhangzhou: A cultural and ecological gem in Fujian
A puppet show is staged at the Zhangzhou Ancient City in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, on May 19, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Zhangzhou city in East China's Fujian province boasts an inclusive maritime culture and a deeply rooted Hakka culture. The beauty of its mountains and seas intertwines with its millennia-old civilization.

Members of the 2024 A Date with China international media tour visited Zhangzhou from May 19 to 21, exploring its ecological and cultural beauty.

The timeless charm of a 1,300-year-old ancient town

The Zhangzhou Ancient City, with a history spanning more than 1,300 years, is an important birthplace of the Hakka culture - rooted in migrants in southern China who originated from lands adjacent to the Yellow River. It's also a vital stop on the Maritime Silk Road.

The commercial prosperity of the Tang (618-907), Song (960-1279), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties merged here, leaving a legacy of historical affluence.

A visit to the historic city would not be complete without experiencing its renowned glove puppet shows, which have a history of more than 1,000 years. Members of the 2024 A Date with China tour watched the puppetry performance, Daming Prefecture, on May 19, which featured traditional stunts such as acrobatics, lion dancing and martial arts.

Members of the international media tour A Date with China learn to perform puppet shows in Zhangzhou, Fujian province, on May 19, 2024. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

After the show, French freelance photographer Jeremy Walter Grinan said: "The story is easy to understand. After a minute or two, you'll find yourself laughing unconsciously. There are no (digital) special effects and no modern technology, yet it's still very entertaining. Perhaps it's been so enjoyable for over a thousand years."

Moreover, Zhangzhou Ancient City hosts a wide array of intangible cultural heritage, including puppet head carving, woodblock New Year prints and paper-cutting. The old town also contains a wealth of historical and cultural landmarks. Among them are three nationally protected sites: the Grand Hall of Confucius Temple, the Stone Archway of the Ming Dynasty and the Zhangzhou Lin Family Ancestral Hall.

The Tianluokeng tulou cluster is the most iconic of Fujian tulou. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Tulou, ancient wisdom preserved in earthen architecture

The Fujian tulou, or earthen buildings, are variously-sized circular and rectangular buildings mostly set among rice, tea and tobacco fields, and some can house up to 800 people.

Several stories high, the multifamily communal living structures were first designed for defense purposes. In 2008, the buildings became well-known after 46 of them, constructed between the 15th and 20th centuries, were inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List as a unique residential architecture of Fujian province.

As the saying goes: "People who haven't seen the Tianluokeng tulou cluster haven't seen the real tulou." Lying halfway up the mountains of Nanjing county, the Tianluokeng cluster is the most iconic of the Fujian tulou. It's among the UNESCO-listed ones, alongside the Hekeng tulou cluster, Huaiyuanlou and Heguilou - the largest rectangular one, with five stories built on the soft swamp.

The Yuchanglou, the oldest remaining tulou, has been standing more than 700 years. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Nanjing county is home to more than 15,000 tulou, making it a must-visit for travelers in Fujian. Statistics show that Nanjing's tulou scenic area received more than 3.7 million visitors in 2023, generating tourism revenue of 2.6 billion yuan ($358 million).

In addition to sightseeing, visitors can also experience intangible cultural heritage performances in Nanjing such as puppet shows inside tulou, offering deeper insights into the local culture.

Reflecting on his visit to Nanjing, Jeremy Grinan said: "Tulou was super nice. The people I met there were super welcoming."

"During our visit, it was raining, adding to the sense of calm and serenity. You could see the clouds hanging between the mountains and enjoy local tea while listening to the rain falling on the wooden walls," Grinan added. "It felt like stepping into an old kung fu movie."

The Nanjing county government has considered heritage preservation and tourism development equally important. Many structures of the earthen buildings, due to their age, face issues such as wall erosion and surface damage. Official data shows that Nanjing has invested 8 million yuan in recent years in the restoration of tulou buildings, including repairing roof leaks and cleaning drainage systems.

Dongshan is the sixth largest island county in China. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Dongshan, a treasure trove of sea culture

Located in Zhangzhou city, Dongshan is the sixth largest island county in China. Its azure skies, blue water, majestic bays, white sands, lush forests and scattered islands form a picturesque landscape.

Famous tourist destinations in Dongshan include the iconic Wind-moving Stone, the Nanmen Bay and the Guandi Temple which worships Guan Yu, an ancient general from the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) known for his courage and faith. The worship of Guan Yu is still prevalent throughout China today.

Recalling her visit to Dongshan, Tunisian journalist Derouiche Asma said: "I like it so much. It reminds me of my hometown, with blue beaches, bird songs and vast blue skies. It took me back to the times with my family on vacation."

"The island is shaped like a butterfly," she added. 

In addition to sightseeing, visitors can also experience intangible cultural heritage performances in Nanjing such as puppet shows inside tulou, offering deeper insights into the local culture. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Exploring puppetry: Tunisian in Fujian

Derouiche Asma from Tunisia had a chance to learn from a local master of tradtional puppet show during her international media tour in East China's Fujian province.

Fujian puppetry, which dates back more than 1,500 years, is listed among China's national intangible cultural heritage. Asma was amazed by the experience, saying the puppet can vividly sends message without saying a word.

Click the video to watch how she learned from the local master.

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