Lately, the documentary SILK ROAD DELICACIES-RICE UNEARHED, with China Intercontinental Communication Center (CICC) and CJ Entertainment as its co-producer, was jointly presented by the 4K Channel of ASTRO Malaysia and the Southeast Asia Channel of tvN Korea, which has been overwhelmingly received by the local media and audiences. According to media reports, this documentary will also be shown in some other countries and regions. It has achieved good results and there are at least three reasons for its great popularity.
First of all, the production team has picked out the trend to output content that can meet the tastes and expectations of target audiences. Since “the Belt and Road” (BRI) was proposed, it has benefited people in many countries and regions. In return, some countries and regions in Southeast Asia and the Middle East also expect to gain more understandings about the BRI so as to seek consensus and acquire more opportunities for common development. To choose the 4K Channel of ASTRO Malaysia and the Southeast Asia Channel of tvN Korea as the broadcasting platform is based on the fact that the main target audiences are those in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc. as well as Hong Kong and Taiwan of China, who show more interest in and greater concern for the development of BRI. Themed on Silk Road Delicacies, some related creative work has been carried out by closely following the trend of the BRI, leading to more attention from social media and audiences consequently.
Secondly, the documentary, starting from delicacies, meets the public’s needs and interest in a novel way. With “rice”, an important type of food along the Silk Road, as the narrative thread, two world-renowned chefs, as the hosts, tell stories of rice, food and cultural exchanges between China and Malaysia, China and Thailand, as well as China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These realistic and vivid stories may come from audiences’ daily life, which can be regarded as a pleasant to their eyes since they can gain an insight into the wonderful friendship between people and win-win opportunities for countries to develop trade. Therefore, it is undoubtedly that an increasing number of audiences have been fascinated by this documentary.
Thirdly, with adequate research, proficient creation skill and sophisticated production, the documentary ensures the audience a high-quality aesthetic experience. The production team, jointly formed by CICC and CJ Entertainment, shot in more than 20 cities in four countries, including Shandong province, Jiangsu province, Zhejiang province, Guangdong province And Guangxi province in China, Sarawak in Malaysia, Bangkok in Thailand and Dubai in the UAE. The three-episode documentary is substantial in content and fluent in narration. It explores the rice planting technology and dietary habits across the country, along with the influence of China’s fine traditional culture on Southeast Asia and the Middle East, and depicts the prosperity of trade, cultural exchanges and people-to-people cooperation along the Belt and Road with beautiful scenes. Remarkably, the documentary breaks new ground in content and conception. Not only as the hosts, the two chefs also become promoters of the rice culture. Their creative “rice banquet” brings together rice culture and food culture in different countries, endows the documentary with a strong symbolic meaning, and delivers the will of China to pursue common development and prosperity with countries along the Belt and Road.
As one of the cradles of rice, China has perceived agricultural exchanges as an important part of its exchanges with foreign countries since ancient times. National security depends on food security. Rice is an indispensable food for China as well as many other countries and regions today. Since the end of 2019, the outbreak of COVID-19 in countries and regions has caused a huge loss to the entire world, posing a great threat to people’s life and economic development. This will force countries to rethink globalization and foreign trade. After the pandemic, different choices may emerge about what policies countries will adopt in the future, how to deal with globalization and foreign trade issues, and how to meet their own food needs. On the cover of the March 21, 2020 issue of the Economist, we saw an earth image, the symbol of globalization, with a “CLOSED” sign on it, implying that the globalization as we know is coming to an end. After the outbreak, the US may further accelerate the strategic contraction and push forward the deglobalization on a gradual basis, although it is impossible to achieve deglobalization in all fields due to the worldwide division of production. If the outbreak is followed by deglobalization, protectionism or even isolationism, some countries and regions are likely to suffer from food security problems. Currently, this terrible pandemic continues worldwide. At this dark moment, this documentary (although it was produced before the outbreak) displays the prosperity, beauty and civilization born of peace, friendship and reciprocal trade to people throughout the world. This not only is the values that the new China has always advocated and committed to bringing to mankind, but also coincides with the stories and paintings by all hard-working, kind and peace-loving people throughout history. The documentary gives people a new sense of goodness of the world, which is the hope for all mankind in the fight against diseases, disasters and all kinds of dark forces.
He Hui is the Professor, doctoral supervisor, Beijing Foreign Studies University; Director, Institute of Historical Languages and Strategic Communications