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Chinese New Year celebrations held in Beverly Hills


01-25-2017 14:39 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Spring Festival

Beverly Hills is getting a taste of Beijing. They are welcoming the year of the rooster with a showcase of Chinese culture. Ahead of Chinese New Year this Saturday, the gala event was held to highlight strong cultural, business and tourism links between the two cities.

Showcasing the smiling face of China to a packed audience -- these dancers are part of the gala celebrating Chinese culture, kicking off a month of events promoting ties between  Beverly Hills and the Chinese capital, Beijing.

The annual celebration is now in its sixth year. It's organised by the Beverly Hills Conference and Visitors Bureau in collaboration with the China International Culture Association and the Beijing Association for Culture Exchanges, with the support of the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles.

"We want to give back to the community. We want the community be to able to experience the beautiful cultures and traditions of China. So many Chinese people come to the city every day and experience everything that Beverly Hills has to offer and all of the beautiful culture that we have. I want the city to be warm and welcoming for these visitors but I also want the community to understand a little bit about all these visitors that are coming into their homes and their city every day so this our way showing people some of the beautiful things of the Chinese culture," Julie Wagner, CEO of Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau, said.

In 2016, Los Angeles became the first ever US city to welcome more than one million visitors from China. 2016 was also the seventh consecutive year that Chinese tourist numbers have grown by at least 20 percent. China is LA's second largest international visitor market after Mexico.

"It helps people to broaden their minds, their vision and also to understand each other better and to build bridges and links. It's very important because so many problems are caused by the misunderstanding, so we hope in that way we could get to know each other better, the way of thinking, and then we could do business together, promote tourism and to make friends," Jiandong Shi, assistant secretary general of China Int'l Culture Association, said.

The gala reception also showcased a wall of photos highlighting the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics that will take place in Beijing. Also on display -- explanations on the customs of the Lunar New Year.

The annual reception was well received, with Beverly Hills' mayor saying it's a good opportunity for officials to let down their hair.

"We have a lot of Chinese guests in Beverly Hills and Chinese residents. It's a wonderful way to join in the celebration from both sides. I think it's going to be a lot of fun and as I've always said fun is not something that we normally associate with municipal governments, so any chance we have to have fun together, we should," Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said.

The Year of the Rooster officially begins this Saturday and runs until February 15th 2018.

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