Despite its great charm, Peking Opera has gradually declined and retreated from the daily lives of most Chinese. CGTN meets Yang Chi, a National People's Congress (NPC) deputy who's planning to honor it through motions he's going to submit during the political session of the Two Sessions.
Inheritance or popularization? That is the question for many Peking Opera artists. Peking Opera has never completely faded from the daily lives of the Chinese people. However, the art form has fallen out of favor with the younger generation as the internet and smartphones have emerged with other forms of entertainment. Yang thinks that without structural reform its future is at stake.
"As a matter of fact, some of our national class performers are working as delivery men...and bartenders. I strongly suggest that cultural system reform must be carried out with the principle of building cultural confidence. It is the motion that I'm going to put forward during this year's Two Sessions. For a national treasure like Peking Opera, its role cannot be market-driven," said Yang, who is also the head of Dalian Peking Opera Theatre.
During the political session, topics concerning people's wellbeing often attract the most attention from deputies to people's congresses. As for today's Peking Opera artists, their wellbeing comes from the sense of belonging.
"Peking Opera plays often emphasize traditional Chinese values like patriotism and fighting injustice. As a performer, we must uphold these spiritual beliefs and responsibilities while choosing from what we should play and what the market wants us to play," Yang told CGTN.
Before being elected as an NPC deputy, Yang was a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – the country's top political advisory body – for 15 years. During his term, he's filed several proposals regarding the tradition of Peking Opera remaining relevant while facing unprecedented challenges.
"I was glad to see that my proposal eventually went through at the CPPCC. Nowadays many universities have rolled out lectures and classes of traditional Chinese culture. I expect to see some positive responses for my motions at this year's NPC session," Yang added at the end of CGTN's visit.