Mangilao Donne’ Festival brings the heat | News

A night of rain showers could not stop the heat of the Mangilao Donne’ Festival.

The celebration kicked off Friday night with a festive atmosphere, from island music to decorative lights and hundreds of residents lining up for vendors’ denanche, seasonings, pickles, and other hot and spicy foods.

The festival in honor of the spicy chile or donne’ continues from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Fun, games and competitions drew in the crowd, including a greased pig chase, which tested the participants’ ability to hang on to a greased pig for a certain amount of time.

There is something for everyone besides the food and drinks. Children enjoyed the carnival rides and games, while adults set their sights on the arts and crafts, clothing and even plants.

Drew Apatang, a small business owner who founded Chamorro Spice, said he wanted to bring his family down for the heat of the Mangilao festival and for the first time, sell their hot pepper merchandise.

“This is our first year selling at the Mangilao festival, and it is the official physical launch of our products,” said Apatang, of Dededo. “Once we got our business license, we satisfied online orders first through our website.”

Despite the competition, he said he knew they had their special bonds to stand out.

“A lot of people indicated the market is saturated, but we bonded our joy for making our products to build memories,” Apatang said. “This is also home-grown within the family, so this gave my family something to do together and bond as a unit.”

Chalan Pago-Ordot resident Shaeleen Salas, winner of the 2023 National Miss Curvy Pageant, came out in full support of the Mangilao Donne’ Festival.

“I’m so excited for this weekend because this event continues to bring all of us together as an island and keeps us in touch with the ‘pika’ side of our culture,” Salas said. “Come down for all three days and have a blast.”

Mangilao Mayor Allan Ungacta shared the joy of the festival after several weeks of preparation.

“We are very fortunate to pull it off with a lot of us getting involved, including the planning council, the staff and all the people that contributed one way or another,” the mayor said. “Please come. We have a lot of family-oriented activities going on. The vibe is nice, welcoming and comfortable.”

Asan-Maina resident Riki Johnson shared his support for the festival while practicing for his slinging tournament.

“It’s pretty cool to see how nice the vendors are selling all their goods to make a living,” Johnson said. “We’re all here to enjoy, especially with the kids, teenagers and adults all being able to compete in trying to catch a pig.”

Here are some of the Donne’ Festival events and activities for Sunday:

  • Slinging competition, 11 a.m.
  • Pika dessert competition and awards, 12 p.m.
  • Contemporary dance performance by Talent Box, 1 p.m.
  • Donne’ dinanche competition and awards, 2 p.m.
  • Magic show with Anthony Reed, 3 p.m.
  • George Washington High School JROTC exhibition, 4:30 p.m.
  • Live band performance by Taj, 5:30 p.m.
  • Cultural dance by Guma I Mane’lu, 7 p.m.
  • Live band performance by the Radiants, 7:45 p.m.

Mangilao Vice Mayor Kevin Delgado shared his appreciation for the dozens of vendors and staff that helped set up the festival after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

“We tried our very best to incorporate everything and everyone as best we can. We’re so grateful to the vendors for having faith in the festival, giving people options and sharing their talents and specialties,” Delgado said. “This took weeks to set up, so everyone has been going above and beyond. We cannot thank them enough.”

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How brands seek Bappa’s blessings, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

<p>Lord Ganesh (source: Getty Images)</p>
Lord Ganesh (source: Getty Images)

Being a Mumbai girl, growing up in the city witnessing public Ganesh pandals in every locality, I could never ignore the splendour and gaiety of Ganesh Chaturthi.

Preparations for this sacred festival begin months in advance and on the actual day of the festival beautifully crafted statues of Ganesh are placed on raised platforms in homes or in decorated outdoor podiums for people to view and worship.

This year, brands offered their shodashopachara to the Lord with endearing messages and marketing strategies to our screens.

Here’s ETBrandEquity’s compilation featuring some of the topical ads featuring Lord Ganesh.

MG Motors

Morris Garages celebrated the festival with #OurEverydayVignaharta on Ganesh Chaturthi. In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we often turn to Lord Ganesh, the Vignaharta, the remover of obstacles. However, it is often our police force that consistently assists us in overcoming obstacles, especially on the roads.

The visuals captured traffic police officers in various scenarios, such as working bravely in heavy rain, navigating through chaotic traffic, and moments of joy captured through their smiles.

To infuse a festive touch, the video sets to the rhythmic beats of dhol tasha, the traditional drum and cymbal music that resonates with the spirited chant of Ganesh Chaturthi.


Through an AI-driven video, DS Group’s Pulse paid their offerings with a fusion of tradition and technology. The brand pays tribute to the visionary leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak, who played a pivotal role in reviving the significance of Ganesh Chaturthi during the pre-independence era. This campaign takes us on a journey that portrays Tilak’s relentless efforts to unite people through this auspicious festival, reinvigorating patriotism and fostering a sense of togetherness. It sets an example of how modern technology can be harnessed. It reminds us that Ganesh Chaturthi is not just a festival.


Zomato, known for its creative marketing, delivered a surprise for the festival. In their video, two siblings set off for Ganpati darshan, with the younger brother secretly worried about devouring all the modaks and facing his mother’s scolding. But as they reach the temple, the sister realises she forgot to buy modaks, and the brother exclaims, “Aise kese bhul gaye!” In a clever twist, the elder sister swiftly orders modaks via Zomato, and a Zomato delivery guy rushes to their rescue, ensuring that Lord Ganesh doesn’t miss out on his favourite treat.

Uber India

Uber India crafted a whimsical map featuring Lord Ganesh’s vahana, the rat, making its way towards us. The caption, “Aala re aala, Bappa aala!” echoed the excitement and joy associated with the arrival of Lord Ganesh. The brand’s imaginative portrayal not only celebrated the festival but also showcased their cultural sensitivity.

Parle Products

Parle Products, the biscuit brand, captured the entire spectrum of the festival, from the grand arrival of Lord Ganesh to the meticulous preparations, and the heartfelt departure. In their message, they stated, “Majestic festivals call for larger-than-life imagination and celebrations.


Myntra, the online fashion retailer, showcased a father-daughter relationship in their Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 campaign. In the brand video, the daughter enthusiastically moulds a Ganesh idol, with her dress getting all muddy in the process. Witnessing her dedication, her father surprises her by gifting a brand new dress from Myntra, making her day even more special. This gesture not only celebrated the bond between a parent and child but also highlighted Myntra’s role in adding joy and convenience to our lives.

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut blends traditional modaks with their signature pizzas to add fun and foodie twist to the celebration. It serves as a reminder that festivals are a time for creating memorable moments with loved ones.


McDonald’s, the global fast-food giant, incorporated their golden arches logo to form the shape of Lord Ganesh, symbolising the spirit of happiness and triumph over obstacles that the deity represents. This gesture reflected McDonald’s commitment to embracing cultural diversity and celebrating the essence of this beloved festival.


Tide India, the laundry detergent brand, added a twist to this Ganesh Chaturthi. Their wordplay emphasised the importance of spotless clothing as people prepare to seek Lord Ganesh’s blessings. It’s a reminder that Tide can help keep one’s clothes looking their best even during the festive season.

Burger King

Burger King, the fast-food chain, paid their tribute to Lord Ganesh by conveying their message: “The king of burgers bows to the lord of modak.” This play on words not only showcased their reverence for the deity but also added a touch of humour to the celebration.

Havells India

In the spirit of celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi, Havells India has rolled out its campaign #HavellsKeDeva. The brand has introduced an OOH campaign where 100 designer fans have been put together to bring alive a unique Lord Ganesh Idol. This hoarding aims to celebrate the joy and fervour of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival by combining art and technology, leaving viewers mesmerised with its grandeur and the visual appeal.

PayU India

PayU India quotes Ganpati Bappa, chief executive officer of Vighnaharta that said “Petition to make modaks the universal currency.” A petition that wouldn’t need one a second thought!


Swiggy’s Ganesh Chaturthi 2023 campaign had us saying “Ganpati Bappa Morya” with a twist. The brand’s animated video traced Lord Ganesh’s evolution from modak mischief-maker to modak-sharing guru, reminding us how we all grow in sweetness.

Akasa Air

The aviation company seeks skyful blessings from up above the sky to the world so high! The ad portrays clouds transformed as Lord Ganesh when viewed through the aircraft window. To celebrate the festival in feasty skies, the company’s Cafe Akasa included a festive medley of Khasta Kachori and spicy Ragada, accompanied by Sweet Potato chaat, classic Puran Poli Tart, and a choice of beverage on board.

Hdfc bank

Hdfc bank seeks offering from Bappa this Ganesh Chaturthi. The brand wishes that Lord Ganesh credits more happiness and debits all one’s worries. It suggests keeping one’s interest rising in aartis, modaks and celebration, and let good fortune compound in one’s life.

Hdfc bank’s simple yet sincere gesture reflects the essence of the festival, spreading good wishes and positive vibes to their audience. It’s a reminder of the significance of seeking Lord Ganesh’s blessings for a joyful and prosperous life.

From animated tales of modak-stealing deities to unexpected modak deliveries from Swiggy and heartfelt father-daughter moments courtesy of Myntra, brands didn’t just sell products; they sold smiles and stories.

As we bid adieu to Lord Ganesh for yet another year, let’s celebrate this festive marketing of the brands with digital and devotion. Ganpati Bappa Morya!

Amazon India launches pre-festive campaign ‘Khushiyan apno ki, aur apni bhi’

The campaign encourages customers to place equal importance on self-care alongside that of their loved ones, encouraging them to embrace self and celebrate ‘Me’ within ‘We’

Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani unite for a stylish festive fiesta with Myntra

As part of this collaboration, Malhotra and Advani will feature in a series of festive ad films, where the couple will represent various categories as well as the offers during BFF. With a captivating presence that has charmed millions due to his flawless style and acting prowess, Malhotra’s appeal transcends various demographics, the company stated.

  • Published On Sep 23, 2023 at 07:54 AM IST

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Why Singapore Should Be Top of the List for Your Next Family Vacation


Treating the family to an unforgettable vacation is easier than you think! Especially if you pick a destination everyone will love, from the littlest kids bursting with energy to the young at heart. For getaways with the whole crew, we’ve got just the place in mind: Singapore, a world-class vacation destination with plenty to offer for the whole family!

It won’t disappoint; the Lion City truly ticks all the boxes, with endless fun and unique things to do. Plus, there’s always a ton of exciting events happening in the city, with activities that are delightful for travellers of all ages. Need even more reasons to start planning your trip to Singapore? Keep reading for some of our favourite things about this destination, including family-friendly events that will make your trip even more special.

Singapore is calling! If this destination is on your list, then you’ve picked a good one: It’s home to the biggest, most exciting events, from dazzling holiday celebrations to electrifying sporting matches. Truly, Singapore’s calendar of events is filled to the brim from January to December.

Make the most of your vacation time and drop by the events and festivals that will make your family trip even more unforgettable!

Discover Singapore

Unique reasons why Singapore is the ultimate destination for a family vacation

1. An array of interactive experiences await for fans of all ages

Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery

This year, there’s an extra-special event coming into town: Warner Bros. Studio marks its 100th anniversary in 2023 and WB100 Celebrating Every Story will be the only large-scale event in Southeast Asia to feature 100 years of Warner Bros. franchises!

Expect a legendary celebration at Sentosa from 10–26 Nov 2023, with fun-filled games, interactive experiences, and weekend sunset movie screenings. Fans of all ages can look forward to entertaining experiences that celebrate beloved Warner Bros. icons like DC superheroes Batman and Aquaman, and classic cartoon characters like Tom and Jerry. Pose for a few photos with your childhood heroes — and don’t forget to snap a pic together with your kids, too!

2. Travellers can meet their favourite comic book characters and superheroes

Comic book fans and pop culture junkies, unite! There are a lot of comic cons across the globe, but if you’re based in Southeast Asia, the one in Singapore is one you must have on your bucket list. 

Slated 9–10 Dec 2023, Singapore Comic Con lets you geek out over pop culture’s most famous caped crusaders, from the most popular Marvel characters to Star Wars jedis. Trust us: The little ones will be in complete awe at the sight of their fictional heroes! Best of all, entry is completely free for kids below 12 years old. That means you can bring the whole family without shelling out a fortune!

3. Families can enjoy the most dazzling holiday season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and somehow, the festivities are even more wonderful in vibrant Singapore. Sure, you may not find a chilly White Christmas in Singapore, but there are buzzy Christmas markets, light shows, holiday-themed amusement parks, and a wide array of food fit for a festive feast. Not to mention, Singapore’s famous shopping scene promises a fun experience buying gifts for all your loved ones — and for all budgets! 

If you’re on vacation in Singapore from 1 Dec 2023 to 1 Jan 2024, then take the family to the Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay. A lively celebration in one of Singapore’s most iconic attractions, this annual Yuletide event transforms the Gardens into a magical extravaganza of lights, and spectacle. With giant illuminations, carnival games, snowy areas, and even Santa Claus appearances, adults will be just as awestruck as the kids. Trust us: Your family holiday photos will be extraordinary this year! 

4. Celebrations and parties are absolutely epic for the whole family

singapore tourism board

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

Brimming with larger-than-life attractions and one-of-a-kind experiences, it’s obvious that Singapore always pulls out all the stops when it comes to entertainment. And so, we’re not surprised that Singapore is home to some of the liveliest shindigs in Asia! 

There’s no bigger party than the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown at the end of the year. No matter who you’re ringing in the New Year with — young kids, senior parents, or party-ready siblings — this multi-sensory event is the best way to celebrate in Singapore. We’re talking striking firework displays, dazzling pyrotechnics, and state-of-the-art light and sound shows at Marina Bay on 31 Dec 2023. Light installations along the waterfront promenade guarantee Instagram-worthy moments for the whole family.

5. Families can nourish their creative spirit in the thriving arts scene

family vacation singapore

Image credit: Singapore Tourism Board

For art lovers, the colourful cultural scene is one of the top reasons to visit Singapore. It’s brimming with classic museums and modern art spaces that will fill up your family itinerary. Even walking the streets will expose travellers to striking street murals and public art installations — it feels like every turn reveals new art in Singapore. Go on a scavenger hunt around the city for famous street art and nurture a love of the arts among kids and kids-at-heart! 

Dive into works of local and international artists and arts organisations at Singapore Art Week 2024 slated 19–28 Jan 2024. This 10-day art week hosts a wide range of arts events, from art fairs and large-scale exhibitions to shows and talks. 

6. Singapore’s melting pot of culture makes for vibrant family vacations

Look past the gleaming malls and world-class theme parks, and you’re bound to appreciate Singapore’s rich melting pot of different ethnicities. Join the festivities that bring together the different cultures making up the rich local tapestry: the Chinese, Malays, Indians, and everyone in between.

And if there’s one event that encapsulates the electrifying multicultural heritage of Singapore, it’s the Chingay Parade which takes place typically in February every year. The Chingay Parade will keep families completely enchanted, with colourful floats, elaborate costumes, music and dance performances, dancing dragons, and dazzling pyrotechnics. 

Book your family vacation in time for this must-experience event in Singapore. Good news: it’s held on the same weekend as the Chinese New Year celebrations. So, your family will surely be busy and entertained during your entire holiday!

7. Family-oriented festivities on top of exhilarating rugby matches

Some of the biggest sporting events in the world make their way to sunny Singapore, making it an exceptional place for vacations with athletic families and sporting fans of all ages. There’s really nothing like the exhilarating vibes of cheering with the crowd and watching your favourite team win a match in person! 

For instance, do you like rugby? Time your Singapore trip on 3–5 May 2024 when HSBC SVNS sets up their stage at the Singapore National Stadium. An annual series of international rugby sevens tournaments, HSBC SVNS allows rugby fans to witness world-class athletes clash for the trophy. HSBC SVNS is more than just a game, after all. There will be thrilling rugby matches, of course; however, you can also expect live music performances, local food, and other immersive experiences. No need to break a sweat to fall in love with the world of sports! 

8. Local farms offer a fun, educational, and unique experience

Travellers imagine Singapore as the ultimate futuristic destination, with towering skyscrapers and dazzling shopping malls. But here’s a local secret: There are suburban corners where you can go back to the greener basics. 

The Local Farm leads the way, committed to bridging the gap between Singapore farmers and consumers with weekend markets in the rustic Kranji countryside. And this year, there was a bigger event in the heart of the city: The Local Farm Festival, a family-friendly three-day event at Gillman Barracks. Delicious farm-fresh food, local artisanal products, and educational workshops await. And for the kids? Experiential activities for children help the youngsters appreciate where their favourite dishes come from! 

Did you miss the inaugural festival? The Local Farm also hosts family farm stays and kid-centric adventures to foster children’s interest in local farm life — you can visit with the family anytime! 

There you have it: Eight of the best reasons why your next family vacation should be in spectacular Singapore. So, we think it’s time to schedule that getaway soon, right? Family fun and nonstop bonding, coming up!

And this list isn’t even it — there are so many more family-friendly activities and events to look forward to all year round. Make the most of your trip and stay updated on the latest happenings in town. For more information, Visit Singapore

Also read: 15 New Attractions in Singapore to Look Forward To

Brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board.

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EVENTS: Rodeo finals, Viva Salem and stylish pups

Whether you want to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month or see dogs in costume, Salem has plenty happening this weekend. Here’s your guide to events for Friday, Sept. 22, through Sunday, Sept. 24.

Viva Salem

Salem’s first Hispanic Heritage Festival comes to Riverfront Park Saturday, Sept. 23, with a free family-friendly day of activities including face painting, Mexican cowboy demonstrations and more.

The city event will bring local and regional performers to the stage, accompanied by vendors, artists and food. The event runs from noon to 6 p.m., with performances all day. More information is available on the city website.

Read more about the event here:

Rodeo finals

Didn’t get your fill of rodeo at the state fair? The Northwest Professional Rodeo Association has a final competition Friday, Sept. 22, at the state fairgrounds at 7 p.m. Come watch the top dozen cowboys and cowgirls compete for glory in 11 events, including steer wrestling, wild cow milking and saddle bronc.

Tickets start at $22.50. The fairgrounds are located at 2330 17th St N.E. Learn more or buy tickets online.

Dogs meet at the Walk and Wag for Willamette Valley Hospice. (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)


Fans of pets or hospice care will come together Saturday, Sept. 23, for the annual Walk-N-Wag fundraiser at Minto Brown Island Park, benefitting Willamette Vital Health. The fun goes from 1-4 p.m. and includes a walk in the park, dog watching and food and drink.

Registration is open online through Friday for $10, and is $15 in-person the day of the event. Learn more online.

Taste unique Oregon food

The Oregon Angel Food Marketplace brings 50 food and beverage entrepreneurs to Chemeketa Community College’s agriculture complex on Saturday, Sept. 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visitors can sample products and talk to people making unique Oregon foods and beverages, including chutneys, pistachio butter, pre-packaged African foods, hot sauces, non-alcoholic cocktails, granola, desserts and more.

The event is put on by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network and SEDCOR, and is intended to give small businesses a chance to pitch their products, make connections and find new customers.

The agriculture complex is located on the east side of the college campus in Salem, off the 3900 block of Northeast 45th Street.

Read more about the marketplace here:

Market for the Strange

If you’re looking to get an early start on Halloween, head to Salem’s Market of the Strange, which returns Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Salem Convention Center, 200 Commercial St. S.E.

The event features local vendors of the weird, occult and creative, and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

A unique concert

Satiric songwriter Roy Zimmerman will entertain with a night of live music at Salem’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5090 Center Street N.E. “Roy’s signature blend of heart and hilarity has never been more necessary. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Roy’s songs have been heard on HBO and Showtime, and his videos have garnered hundreds of millions of views,” an event description says.

The show is Friday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m. Cost is $25 or pay what you can.

Get on skates

Travelin Wheelz has a disco-themed pop-up roller rink Saturday, Sept. 23. Admission is $10.

Sessions run from 4-6:30 p.m. or 7:30-10 p.m. at the Madhouse, 1335 Madison St. N.E. Skate rentals are available for $5. Learn more on Facebook.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

SUPPORT OUR WORK – We depend on subscribers for resources to report on Salem with care and depth, fairness and accuracy. Subscribe today to get our daily newsletters and more. Click I want to subscribe!

Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.

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Full transcript: The 2023 Global Citizen Awards honor leaders who build bridges in the face of unprecedented crises

Full transcript: The 2023 Global Citizen Awards honor leaders who build bridges in the face of unprecedented crises

Gear up to watch the exclusive broadcast of the event

Event transcript

Uncorrected transcript: Check against delivery

JOHN F.W. ROGERS: Ladies and gentlemen, if I can just have your attention for a moment. Good evening, your excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen.

Each year, we gather during the United Nations General Assembly week to underscore the Atlantic Council’s commitment to promoting constructive global leadership, both to meet the world’s most pressing challenges and to ensure that freedom and opportunity and prosperity can be more widely realized across nations. In navigating the increasingly intertwined social, economic, and political challenges that define the twenty-first century, it is critical that we are guided by leaders whose intellect, their experience, and their single-minded resolve can be galvanized in the face of a myriad of obstacles to continue the collective march towards a safer and a more secure world order.

To this end, tonight we honor such leaders and luminaries who have taken up the call to serve a purpose greater than oneself, who are beacons of the Atlantic Council’s principles, and who together comprise this truly remarkable group and gathering of our 2023 Global Citizens. We are fortunate to have them and to be able to celebrate them this evening in New York. We convene, however, at a pivotal time for the Atlantic Council in the broader global community, as we endure an era of uncommon, if not disconcerting, geopolitical uncertainty.

As the unprovoked war against the people of Ukraine continues, we bear witness to the unshakable resilience of the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and a fundamental way of life, underpinned by the principles of peace, stability, and the basic right to determine their future. For our part, at the Council, our efforts demand a rigorous focus on deploying and delivering upon our expanded global mission, helping US leadership work in tandem with our long-term partners and allies to respond strategically, appropriately to these recent events, and to advance the broader cause of democracy across the global stage.

Despite the challenges, I say, with optimism and great confidence, that the Atlantic Council has never been more robust operationally, substantively, or financially. And in the face of such complex, daunting, and worldwide challenges—including economic, societal, and political dislocation—the Council’s formidable strength comes at a time when our work has never been more integral or imperative for a relative world order.

Our venue here tonight is a New York landmark which houses such institutions as the New York Stock Exchange. It is in many ways an ideal setting which to recognize our honorees tonight, because standing before you this architectural triumph of Greek Revival, the style was historically considered to be an expression of civic virtue, a symbol of the moral duty to put the common good above self-interest in a society. And in this way and in this setting, tonight we pay tribute to individuals who have in turn made selfless and enduring impacts on the world, who have themselves been expressions of civic virtue, symbols of self-regard giving way to the common good. And in so doing, we are in awe of their achievements, inspired by their character, and humbled by their presence.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my distinct honor and privilege to recognize the five recipients who join the roles of the Council’s Distinguished Citizen. Born in West Germany to parents in the textile industry, our first honoree would someday earn a law degree, eventually find his way into politics as a member of parliament, and ultimately become the ninth chancellor of Germany. A staunch advocate for governance and society, moored in mutual respect and consensus building, he continues to work at home and abroad with international partners towards securing a peaceful and stable European continent, and beyond.

Tonight we also honor the child of a Japanese government official who attended elementary school in New York, where his coming-of-age experiences would ignite and inspire his interest in justice and politics. Following an earlier career in law and finance, he was elected to the house of representatives, eventually becoming Prime Minister of Japan. Today, as the president of the G7, his transformative leadership has strengthened the Global South and promoted worldwide cooperation and democratic values across regions and borders.

Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and also lesser-known winner of Ukraine’s Dancing with the Stars. He met his wife in high school, he dated her in university, and would eventually marry and have two children. The actor, the comedian, the entrepreneur, he founded his country’s most successful and prolific entertainment company and he would go on to a history-altering career change with his landslide victory election as the sixth president of Ukraine.

Soon after he would confront unspeakable Russian aggression and atrocities but lead a tenacious defense of his people that would earn him the admiration of the world.

We pay tribute to our fourth honoree, the first woman US Treasury secretary, and is featured in the Hamilton musical mixtape. She’s the inspiration for the indie hip-hop song “Who’s Yellen Now.” Born to elementary school teacher and a family physician who worked from the ground floor of their family home over her more than forty-year career as an economist and policy maker, she has helped to build a more resilient and inclusive US and global economy, including greater focus on poverty and inequality and wages. But I think it’s expressed more appropriately by the artist Dessa and her single about her, about her triple crown, about her three-sided coin that always comes up heads.

Ladies and gentlemen, watch yourself. There’s busted glass. She broke another ceiling. She’s the first that led the Council of Economic Advisers, the Treasury, and the Fed, and most appropriate for tonight, ladies and gentlemen, lift up your mojitos because she’s managing the Mint.

And, finally, we had the great honor of bestowing on one of our own family the Distinguished Service Award on Victor L. L. Chu, the chairman and CEO of First Eastern Investment Group, for his contributions as co-founder of the Global Citizens Award and as a member of the council’s International Advisory Board. We are not only immensely appreciative of Victor’s generous support but laud his dedication to improving the state of the world, which has earned him numerous awards and accolades including the Global Economy Prize. Tonight’s celebration would not exist without Victor’s innovative vision and his commitment to extraordinary public and humanitarian service.

On that befitting note, ladies and gentlemen, this evening we raise our hands to say salute to these truly distinguished honorees and the Council’s overarching mission. Thank you.

And so now let’s take a look at tonight’s first honoree.

VOICEOVER: Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s leadership shines particularly as he has spearheaded efforts to fortify European unity. His clear and strategic vision is an example not only to his European counterparts but to countries around the world.

As a leader who places diplomacy and dialogue at the forefront, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has emerged as a beacon of hope. His unwavering commitment to creating peace and confronting threats to global democracy cements his legacy as a remarkable global citizen and a great leader for our times.

The Atlantic Council is pleased to honor him for his efforts tonight.

NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA: Good evening, everyone. Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests, I would like to thank John Rogers, Fred Kempe, and the Atlantic Council for giving me the honor and the opportunity to present the 2023 Global Citizen Award to Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany.

Let me take a moment to recognize and congratulate this year’s other awardees: Prime Minister Kishida, US Secretary Treasury Janet Yellen, a good friend, Victor Chu, and President Zelenskyy.

I’m really delighted to say a few words about Chancellor Scholz, a giant in Germany and Europe who is doing so much to foster the international cooperation and solidarity we need to meet challenges, even as he remains clear-eyed about the threats that confront global peace and security.

Chancellor Scholz has been on the global stage for years with earlier stints as finance minister and labor minister. His passion for social justice started as early as when he was seventeen and has never wavered. This passion has infused his political career and underpinned his achievements. His understanding of the complexities that shape our interconnected world was shaped by his roots in Hamburg, a port city open to the world, but also one where heavy industries have struggled with economic transition.

Chancellor Scholz is a powerful advocate for global trade that is open, free, and fair, but when there are dislocations, he also knows how and when to complement open markets with domestic policies that provide appropriate safety nets to cushion workers and enable them to take advantage of new opportunities. His commitment to fostering a more equitable global economic framework is visible in the instrumental role he plays in the G7 and G20, advocating for a global minimum tax for multinational corporations and championing digital taxation.

Chancellor Scholz is a great advocate for getting the world to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or earlier. His concept of a climate club or alliance has broken new ground in finding ways to incentivize our economies at different levels of development to collectively take ambitious climate action that protects our planet. Chancellor Scholz’s strong support for developing nations stands as a testament to his commitment to equity and inclusivity.

He has been a leading voice in calling for global resilience through the diversification of global production networks for key goods by bringing in countries on the margins of global markets. Increasing the production of fertilizer or rare earths and minerals in developing countries and empowering those nations to add value to these commodities instead of exporting unprocessed raw materials will promote development and job creation while making global supplies more resilient to climate or geopolitical shocks.

This is what we call a reimagined globalization or re-globalization at the WTO, a word I want all of you to take away with you tonight. I’m personally inspired by Chancellor Scholz’s dedication to fostering greater global understanding in a world that seems increasingly and frighteningly divided.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is with the utmost admiration and respect that we welcome Chancellor Scholz here tonight in presenting this year’s Global Citizens Award. Thank you.

OLAF SCHOLZ: President Zelenskyy, Prime Minister Kishida, Secretary Yellen, Director-General Okonjo-Iweala, dear Mr. Kempe, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, thank you for your kind words, dear Ngozi. I’m always very happy to exchange ideas with you, not only because we are friends but also because we share the same convictions on many issues. We are, for instance, both determined advocates for free trade. Free trade: That has led to unprecedented economic growth and helped lift hundreds of millions of people in Africa, and Asia, and in Latin America out of poverty. That is why I share your conviction, Ngozi, that decoupling, reducing trade to just friends, or ever higher trade barriers are not the answer. On the contrary, you put it perfectly in your essay, “Why the World Still Needs Trade,” that was published in June, and I highly recommend.

Deconcentrated and more diversified global supply chains offer a route to interdependence without overdependence. And they offer a way in for countries and communities that have so far been excluded from global value chains. However, being free traders puts us into a category of species that seems to be increasingly endangered, even in its natural habitat here in the United States. So I’m glad to have you by my side as we work towards the preservation and recovery of that particular species.

When I first learned that the Atlantic Council wanted to honor me with the Global Citizen Award, I was hesitant to accept. In my German hometown of Hamburg, there is a tradition that forbids citizens to accept declarations from foreign powers. The reason lies in this city’s past. Hamburg was a free republic long before that became fashionable, located between empires and kingdoms all craving for power, staying free and independent of foreign influence was the survival strategy for small city-state. To accept a declaration, so the tradition holds, meant placing oneself above others, which was not in line with the ideal of a society of equals trading with other independent cities and countries.

Nevertheless, as the Global Citizen Award is clearly not a declaration, I’m very honored to accept it today. Because this award emphasizes precisely what I just said, that we strive for an interconnected world whose citizens cooperate with each other to protect our global common goods and to create growth in a way that benefits all. This belief is also embodied in the UN Charter. That charter is the backbone of an international order of equals, equal in their sovereignty and equal in their duty not to violate the borders of their neighbors.

President Zelenskyy, it is a privilege to receive this award together with you as the representative of the brave people of Ukraine. Your courage inspires us all, and the suffering of your people breaks our hearts. Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine is being fought in Europe, but it is at the same time an attack against fundamental principles of our international order. That is why I called it a watershed moment, a Zeitenwende. There is a before and an after.

In Germany, we overcame long-standing certainties. Second only to the United States, we are the biggest supporter of Ukraine economically, in terms of humanitarian aid, as well as military training and heavy weapons. We are investing more in our own security and defense, and that of our friends and allies. For instance, by decisively increasing our military presence in the Baltic states. Within months, we have become independent from Russian energy. And last, but truly not least, Russia’s war against Ukraine has also led to a historic deepening of our transatlantic alliance. I’m proud to say today our relations with the United States are stronger than ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, Russia’s war has failed utterly because of the courage of the Ukrainians and because of the unity of all those who stand for an international order of equals. But the suffering is not over. Russia continues its brutal aggression against the people of Ukraine and against the very foundation of international law. And that is why we, too, will continue steadfast in our support for Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Danke schön.

VOICEOVER: With a steadfast commitment to fairness, equality, and peace, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida utilizes his extensive diplomatic experience to shape global policies that benefit not only Japan but also the entire global community. As the G7 president, he worked tirelessly to foster dialogue among the world’s leading economies, uniting them to address pressing issues such as climate change, global health, and economic inequality. The Atlantic Council salutes Prime Minister Kishida for his transformative leadership to strengthen the Global South and promote worldwide cooperation.

URSULA VON DER LEYEN: Good evening. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be here tonight and speak at this esteemed gathering about an ally and a friend and a most deserving recipient of this award, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

I could tell the audience about our amazing cooperation of these years, dear Prime Minister, about how we coordinated our actions in the wake and in the aftermath of Russia’s full-scale aggression of Ukraine, or how you hosted an incredibly successful G7 at Hiroshima, but there is another moment that is even more telling of your courage and your leadership. I’m talking about your visit to the small Ukrainian town of Bucha, a symbol of Russia’s brutality and of Ukraine’s resistance.

Bucha was liberated by Ukraine’s brave soldiers in the early weeks of the war, but Russian troops left a trail of blood and death and destruction. They executed dozens of civilians in cold blood in one of the worst war crimes since the start of Russia’s brutal war. And you, dear Fumio, decided to make the long and difficult trip to Bucha to see with your own eyes the horror that Russia left behind, but also Ukraine’s determination to resist and to fight for its freedom.

For the first time since World War II, a Japanese prime minister visited a country at war, and you brought with you Japan’s solidarity in words and deeds. From the very beginning of this war, you opened your country to Ukrainian refugees, you joined us in sanctioning Russia for its crimes, and you stood at our side when Putin tried to blackmail Europe with gas. Ukraine, and the whole of Europe, will be forever grateful to you for this. Arigatou, dear Fumio.

You have done this because you know that although Ukrainians are paying the highest price, this war is not only about Ukraine. And it is not only about European security. This is about the basic principles of the UN Charter, which have protected global peace since the end of World War Two. It is about the simple, yet vital, rule that borders cannot be changed by force and that every country should be free to chart its own path. You, dear Fumio, understood this from day one. You understood that we must all contribute to upholding the UN Charter, because in a lawless world, any country might face the same fate as Ukraine.

In your words, you said, “Ukraine today, maybe East Asia tomorrow,” end of quote. European security and Indo-Pacific security are one and the same. Your vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific is also our vision. So we are bound to work together. And in these two years, Prime Minister, you have forged ever-stronger ties between Japan and your like-minded friends, near and far, from East Asia to Europe and North America. You have reconnected Japan to its most trusted partners and built new bridges across the world. Thanks to your leadership, today our three continents are closer than ever before.

Distinguished guests, there is a Japanese proverb that tells a lot about the country and about its prime minister. It says onkochishin and it means “explore the past to learn new things.” You, dear Prime Minister, showed me the meaning of this proverb during the G7 summit in Japan last year. You brought us to your hometown of Hiroshima, the place where you have your roots and which has deeply shaped your life and leadership. Many of your relatives lost their life when the atomic bomb razed Hiroshima to the ground. You have grown up with the stories of the survivors. And you wanted us to listen to the same stories, to face the past, and learn something about the future.

It was a sobering start to the G7, and one that I will not forget, especially at a time when Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons once again. It is heinous. It is dangerous. And in the shadow of Hiroshima, it is unforgivable. No one is better poised than Japan to warn us of the extreme danger and of this recklessness. Right from the beginning of this war, Japan’s position was clear. As the only country that has suffered from atomic bombings, you have made the whole world listen. Today, Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling has been condemned not only by our like-minded partners in the G7, but by the whole world. And your diplomatic efforts have been crucial to reach this outcome.

This is true leadership—the kind of leadership that the world needs in these troubled days, leadership that is not afraid to learn from the past to shape a different future. So it is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate your work and your vision.

Distinguished guests, please join me in congratulating Prime Minister Kishida on earning the 2023 Atlantic Council Award.

FUMIO KISHIDA: Thank you for your kind introduction. We’re good friends for long and it makes me especially happy that you talk only good things about me tonight. Thank you very much.

And thank you, President Kempe and the Atlantic Council, for this prestigious award. I’m very much honored to receive this.

In May I hosted the G7 summit in Hiroshima, a symbol itself of the place for peace. At the summit the G7 leaders and many other leaders from around the world had the opportunity to directly listen to the experiences, stories, and wishes of hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings, as well as to learn firsthand the devastation through their visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. There we shared in a renewed determination to work together towards a world without nuclear weapons and to pass on the same conviction and resolve to the generation that will follow.

Ladies and gentlemen, here in Manhattan there is a large statue of a Buddhist monk. This statue stood in Hiroshima seventy-eight years ago and it survived the atomic bomb. Every year on August 6, citizens here in New York gather in front of this statue and pray for peace and a world without nuclear weapons.

Hibakusha and the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have devoted their lives to sharing their stories and prayers. Many others too have dedicated their lives to promoting nuclear disarmament or advancing radiological sciences.

Today let us remember those who gave their lives and sacrificed everything for peace. All of us here are standing on the shoulders of those unsung heroes. We should never let their efforts and sacrifices end as a mere dream. It is the responsibility of every political leader to find [a] pathway to overcome the harsh realities of the world and take the lead to achieve such peace. I humbly accept this award on their behalf as prime minister of Japan and as a citizen of Hiroshima. Thank you very much.

ADRIENNE ARSHT: Good evening. I wanted to take a brief moment to acknowledge the Ukrainian artwork that is being displayed around the room. If you look around, and when the lights come back up take another look, the exhibition gives a glimpse of the scope and diversity of the creativity of Ukrainian and Ukrainian-American artists over the past century.

What a special evening, and congratulations to all our honorees this evening. As many of you know, I feel a deep connection to music and to all of the arts. It’s after experiencing moments like this that I feel it is particularly appropriate that we look to music. Music is a universal language, and I cannot think of any song more fitting than this one to pay tribute to President Zelenskyy. This song is also an anthem for each and every one of us.

So, from the Metropolitan Opera, please welcome soprano Maureen McKay to sing the 1955 classic “Let The Be Peace On Earth.”

FREDERICK KEMPE: As my daughter would say, OMG. Tonight, we celebrate remarkable global citizens. And, by doing so, we hope to inspire others to great accomplishments.

However, I’d like to start this part of the evening, heading into our very special guests in a couple of minutes and then the dinner break, by saluting the courage and resilience of an individual who cannot be with us tonight. That’s Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter who’s been detained in Moscow since March 29, falsely and cynically accused of espionage.

Having, myself, spent more than twenty-five years as a foreign correspondent and editor at the Wall Street Journal before coming to the Atlantic Council, I perhaps have stronger feelings than many in this room about the need to free Evan as soon as humanly possible. Any of us who’ve been journalists in war zones or troubled situations know it could easily be us, and we don’t know whether we might have his courage or his resilience.

Tonight, however, we’re joined by two individuals who have experienced this on an even more personal level. They are Evan’s parents, Mikhail Gershkovich and Ella Milman. Mikhail and Ella, please rise and let us applaud you and Evan. We stand with you and we are prepared to do whatever we can as a global community to bring Evan home as soon as is humanely possible. Thank you for everyone to support this cause.

The Atlantic Council’s mission simply stated is shaping the global future together—shaping the global future together. This is only five words, but they powerfully express who we are and why so many of you are here tonight to support that mission and our work behind it. The first word is shaping. We don’t just publish, convene, or advocate—though we do a lot of all those things in a nonpartisan internationalist bipartisan, but incredibly response-oriented, results-oriented way. We aspire to shape a better world through our actions, projects, and advocacy across our sixteen programs and centers and across the world.

The second term: the global future. We are at the beginning—not in the middle, not at the end—of a new era. The fourth inflection point since World War I and the global future is up for grabs again, as it was after World War I, after World War II, and the Cold War. We got it tragically wrong after World War I, better after World War II, somewhere in between after the end of the Cold War, where we expanded the European Union, NATO, the area of free markets and free peoples, but there was so much work left undone.

And the fourth inflection point will have to do with the outcome of the war in Ukraine—Russia’s war in Ukraine—and how we handle this now and how we handle this not just now, but into the future, and you’ve heard that from our awardees so far. The coming months and years will determine what values, what institutions, [and] what set of countries will forge what sort of future. These are consequential times as you’ll hear from our next awardee.

Third, together—the word, together—shaping the global future together. This is perhaps the most important of these five words—not America alone, not America from behind, not America first, but alongside partners and allies—and together with all the six hundred of you, from more than thirty countries, including several of our previous award honorees, including President Ursula von der Leyen, Former Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Klaus Schwab. These are previous awardees all in the room.

And previous awardees of our distinguished service award, Adrienne Arsht, General Jim Jones, Bahaa Hariri. You’ll also be introduced soon to Victor Chu, who will be the fifth person ever to win this award. It was those three—Victor Chu, Henry Kissinger—that’s five people in the sixty-year history of the Atlantic Council to have been recognized for this award.

For more than six decades, we’ve worked across borders, across the aisle, on a wide set of defining issues that have shaped the twentieth and twenty-first [centuries]. Last night we gathered at Gracie Mansion, the official home of the mayor of New York City, for a dinner with the Global Citizen Award co-chair partners, and it was hosted by Mayor Eric Adams. I think the mayor is in the audience, is that right?

Mr. Mayor? Where are you? Could you please stand so we can salute you?

Mr. Mayor, you’ve got a pretty cool home. Thank you for sharing it with us. And thank you for your gracious hospitality.

I am fortunate here tonight among the—to be among the largest number of Global Citizen Award co-chairs and partners in our history for this dinner. It’s a great problem to have. I want to salute these individuals who make tonight’s dinner and so much of our work possible.

Please stand as I call your name. I ask the audience to hold its applause until we get to the end of this list. It’s a pretty long list, which my finance chair is incredibly happy about. And here are the names. Please stand. Please hold your applause.

Robert J. Abernethy. AEVEX Aerospace, represented by Brian Raduenz. African Rainbow Minerals, represented by my friend Patrice Motsepe. Air Products, represented by Seifi Ghasemi. ANA Holdings, represented by Yoji Ohashi. Adrienne Arsht. Atlas Technologies Group, represented by Guang Yang. Bank of America, represented by Larry Di Rita. Sarah Beshar. Blackstone Charitable Foundation represented by Stephen A. Schwarzman. Bradley, represented by Karl Hopkins. David L. Kaplan. Chopivsky Family Foundation, represented by George Chopivsky, Jr. DAI, represented by James Boomgard. Edelman, represented by Richard Edelman. Eni, Claudio Descalzi. First Eastern Investment Group, represented by Victor L. L. Chu. HIF Global, represented by Meg Gentle. Laurel strategies, represented by Alan H. Fleischmann and Dafna Tapiero. Mapa Group, represented by Mehmet Nazif Gunal. William Marron. Nomura Holdings, Inc, represented by Kentaro Okuda. One American Bank, represented by George Lund. Ahmet M. Oren. Palm Drive Capital, represented by Seamon Chan. Pfizer, Inc, represented by Dr. Albert Bourla. John F. W. Rogers. RTX Corporation, represented by Gregory J. Hayes. S&P Global, represented by Douglas L. Peterson. SICPA Holding, represented by Philippe Amon. SK, represented by Chairman Tae-won Chey. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, represented by Makoto Takashima. Sustainable Development Capital, represented by Jonathan Maxwell. Nader Tavakoli. Broad Capital, represented by Danladi Verheijen. Zurich Insurance Group, represented by John Diaz.

A huge round of applause for this incredible set of individuals.

Without you, this dinner doesn’t happen. Without many of you, the work we do every year doesn’t happen. As General Jones, our two-time chairman—our chairman emeritus says to me, vision without resources is hallucination. We are not going to hallucinate. We’re going to continue to exercise our vision. And thanks to you, we can do that.

This is a moment that is the most favorite moment, where I ask you to—a few people to rise and for you to really give a round of applause. I am lucky to work with people that allow this dinner to happen, to be executed with such detail, to have so much care about what they do, to open—I wake up every morning, wanting to be relevant. I tell them, don’t be so naive to think you can change the world every day. But don’t work at the Atlantic Council if you don’t want to give it a try. You shouldn’t be here.

So, Atlantic Council staff, board, international advisory board, please stand for applause. What a pleasure it is to work with you all. Ladies and gentlemen, please turn your attention to the screens for our next honoree.

VOICEOVER: In May of 2023, Atlantic Council Chairman John F.W. Rogers and President and CEO Frederick Kempe traveled to Kyiv, Ukraine, to present President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the Global Citizen Award. While meeting with Ukrainian Cabinet members, the Atlantic Council staff experienced Zelenskyy’s leadership firsthand and witnessed all that he continues to do for the people of Ukraine.

We are pleased to honor him tonight and to salute his ongoing commitment to defending an independent and democratic nation. We are honored to continue our commitment to Ukraine’s future, building on last year’s Distinguished Leadership Award to the people of Ukraine as we honor President Zelenskyy tonight.

JOHN F. W. ROGERS: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my great honor to formally recognize Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for his fortitude and leadership, for his country’s heroic fight against authoritarian aggression, for his unyielding defense of the sanctity and the solidarity for democracies everywhere. The bravery and the resolve exhibited by Ukraine’s soldiers and citizens alike has been nothing short of an inspiration to the world.

It is something that I have witnessed firsthand. I had the privilege to meet with the president and his team on two separate occasions spanning the many months of this war. It was important that we went and signaled to Russia and other nations that we are committed to a free and independent Ukraine. And on these journeys, we had an opportunity to engage with many officials and leaders to discuss the situation on the ground and its ramifications globally.

But due to the threats in the land and the air, the airport is closed. So, consequently, months after the war began I went by train from the Polish border to Kyiv. And for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union, I was there. The windows of the train were taped to avoid shattered glass in the event of an explosion. And on that train, I saw many Ukrainian women and children who had fled but they were returning to visit husbands and fathers and brothers.

I shared a compartment with a family, a Ukrainian woman and her three-year-old son and her mother. And they were eager to reunite the boys—with the boy’s father, who had just received a few days of leave from fighting on the frontlines.

I also met an elderly couple, Ludmila and Viktor. They were visiting their young daughter in Poland, whom they had not seen since the war started in February. They themselves would not leave their country. They said: If my president stays, I stay.

I also met a young woman who was returning back to her hometown to see her only brother. He had recently been called up to serve in the army. She was filled with tears, worried about her brother—not about her own safety, only about her brother.

Now, these and other tearful conversations set the tone for the rest of my trip. And as I stayed there thinking about the future, I was assured by what I saw in these people’s eyes—hope and courage and sacrifice.

The human side and the toll of this war is captured in these everyday realities. We are living through the greatest period of uncertainty and unrest in more than two decades, driven in a significant way by the worldwide reverberations from the Russian war. As we navigate through, it is even more critical that we understand those moments, where it may lead, and each of our roles within it.

At such a formidable time, there is no better example of the right leader at the right time rising to meet the moment than President Zelenskyy and his unwavering resolve. He has won the trust and the hearts of nearly every Ukrainian and much of the world, delivering a master class in communication and advocacy for a modern nation under primeval siege. Even as we present him with this award and honor his courage, we know that he accepts these accolades on behalf of and for the benefit of his people and his country.

And when you think of the themes of civic virtue and the common good above self-interest, as I reflect upon the two leaders of these nations at war, the contrast could not be more glaring, the differences more stark. In Ukraine, everyday images of the reckless and unnecessary loss of life persist as Putin targets innocent civilians. His persona even ventures into the bizarre, with art forms comparing him to Hercules. Our mythical monsters are replaced with modern adversaries such as a multiheaded hydra of Western sanctions.

And in a contrasting worldview, President Zelenskyy at his inauguration instructed I do not want my picture in your offices. The president is not an icon. He’s not an idol or a portrait. Hang your kids’ photos instead and look at them each time you’re making a decision.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my honor and privilege to present to all of you the president of Ukraine and this year’s recipient of the Global Citizens Award.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY: Thank you very much. A great honor to be here.

Thank you very much, a great honor to be here. I didn’t prepare a long speech. Sorry, too much for one day. And tomorrow, I’ll be in [the] White House, so I have to save energy. I’m not alone here; I’m with my wife, I just want to see her somewhere… And our team, you there. Thank you so much that you invited us. Really, I don’t have, in real life, I don’t have, often, I don’t have time to be near with my wife, together, so thank you so much. Yes, if you want to applause, please. Thank you very much.

Really, to be serious and to be very honest, this is not my award, and I address this award to all Ukrainian men and women in uniform. I address this award to all our sweet children who have been killed by Russian terrorists—I will never forget them. I address this award to our fathers [and] mothers who brought up [such] brave Ukrainian soldiers. And to all teachers and to all doctors who didn’t leave the Ukraine from [the] first days of full-scale war, have been together with us, taught our clever boys and girls; even under Russian missiles, taking Russian missiles and Iranian drones. And of course, I address this award to all the partners: United States, EU, all brave countries who have been with us and supported us. Thank you so much.

And, of course, I address this award to all the people in the world who fight for freedom and democracy like we, we Ukrainians. Slava Ukraini.

JOHN F. W. ROGERS: I would now like to ask our guests to remain seated and ask for each of our honorees to join us onstage so we all have a photograph together with President Zelenskyy.

VOICEOVER: Victor L.L. Chu is the reason we are here tonight. Mr. Chu’s involvement in the annual Atlantic Council Global Citizen Awards has solidified his dedication to recognizing and celebrating individuals who are actively driving positive change on a global scale.

In 2010, Victor and Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe co-founded the annual Atlantic Council Global Citizen Awards Dinner, which takes place alongside the UN General Assembly. The Atlantic Council salutes Victor with a special Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the Atlantic Council and to forging a better world.

KLAUS SCHWAB: Distinguished participants, I would like to start with a personal remark. My earliest memory dates back to World War II, where I was sitting in a bomb shelter having my teddy bear in the arms and hearing the bombs coming down. And that was, let’s say, the start of never war again in Europe. President Zelensky, you are a hero. And we have to make sure that the brutal aggression never succeeds.  

Now, it’s my great pleasure to introduce Victor L.L. Chu, who is being honored this evening with the Distinguished Service Award, an honor only given a few times previously for extraordinary service to the Atlantic Council. We have honored this evening outstanding political leaders. But there are also statesman business leaders, and many of you are also here in the room—business leaders which do not only create prosperity, but really serve the people and society.

Victor, I must admit it’s quite a challenge trying to do justice to your accomplishments in such a limited time. In some way, it feels a bit like capturing the essence of a symphony in one single note. Victor, you are not only an accomplished professional with a long and distinguished career as an entrepreneur, financier, and philanthropist. You are also an exceptional human being and a dear friend since three decades. Your life journey has nothing been short of extraordinary achievements. You embarked in many ways to serve society already as a young—as a young person. You became actually the youngest governor of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, at the age of thirty-one. And the World Economic Forum had the pleasure to nominate you a global leader for tomorrow thirty years ago. And you fulfilled our expectations.

Victor’s history of public service is prodigious. His contributions to numerous boards and advisory boards of highly reputed organizations demonstrate his unwavering commitment to addressing global challenges from a holistic perspective. What sets you really apart, my dear Victor, is the multidisciplinary nature of your service. You have tirelessly championed, in business, investments, policy, education, and philanthropy. Your role in the international advisory councils of the mayors of London, New York, and Rome, coupled with your leadership as chair of both the Hong Kong-Europe Business Council and the Hong Kong-US Business Council demonstrates your ability to navigate this intricate nexus between policy and business with great sophistication and, I should add, humility.

Moreover, your contribution to education as the council chair at University College London, and your involvement with many other prestigious universities, highlight your commitment to shape the next generation of leaders. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of your career is your dedication to improving understanding between the East and the West. And here, I particularly acknowledge your extraordinary engagement with the Atlantic Council over so many years.

Your global vision and tireless efforts have made you a true ambassador of cultural and economic exchange, fostering understanding and collaboration on an international scale. On behalf of all of us, I want to congratulate you, Victor, on this much-deserved recognition. We honor not only your achievements, but also the enduring legacy you leave for future generations—one characterized by a commitment to service, a spirit of unity, and an unwavering belief in the power of bridging divides. We wish you all the best for continuous success in every way, and we look forward to many years of your magic to continue to work.

Victor, please join me, and please celebrate a great business statesman.

VICTOR L. L. CHU: Thank you so much, Klaus. You and Hilde have been a mentor and role model for Irene and myself for more than thirty years to which we are eternally grateful. So thank you again, Klaus, for your generous words.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to start by thanking the leadership of the Atlantic Council for this exceptional honor, which I feel extremely humbled. I want to thank in particular John and Deborah, Fred and Pam, Adrienne, Steve, amongst many other good friends.

I want to thank my family who are here en masse. Quite a few of them are here. And particularly my first cousin, Albert Chu, who is also celebrating his sixtieth birthday today. Happy birthday, Albert

I want to thank so many of my good friends who are here. Without your support and encouragement, we would not have such a wonderful success at the Global Citizen Award. Many of you have come from overseas to join us this evening.

I would particularly like to thank Chairman Ohashi of ANA and also President Inoue of ANA. The three of us are, I suppose, the original partners in the creation of Peach Airline, which is the leading low-cost carrier in Asia, and thank you, Ohashi-san and Inoue-san, for joining us today.

I also want to mention my dear friend Robbie Lyle from London, who has been a friend and a mentor of mine again for forty years, and he’s here with Lizanne (ph). So thank you, Robbie, for your really great friendship over many years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I was very blessed that at a very young age, I was instilled by my parents the value of dedication and public service. Sadly they are no longer with us, but I was wondering that if my mother is here tonight she will be completely thrilled and delighted. My father would have been pleased, but he would say that Victor, this is not good enough. Yeah, I can hear that. And in many ways, he was right for those of us who have been brought up in the last sixty, seventy years, in a period of peace, stability, and strong economic growth. In my father’s words, we have never weathered the storm.

However, the world has become a lot more complicated. And as I’ve said almost every year for the last twelve years, the challenges to society today [are] unprecedented. Last time we talked about cyber, climate, food security and conflicts in Europe. And this year we’ve added the challenges of ChatGPT and the threat of advanced AI.

So multifaceted problems require a cross-disciplinary approach and also global collaboration. I remember, as a young man, every morning at school in Hong Kong we were asked to remember the instructions of St. Paul—faith, hope, love. And the greatest of the three is love.

Love in today’s terminology is really an extension of tolerance and kindness. And here we are today, faced with these extremely complicated problems. Let me call upon all of us to rise to the occasion. We need to have more compassion. We need to communicate constructively. We need to engage more frequently. And, where necessary, a little bit of constructive ambiguity would do no wrong.

So as a Liverpool Football Club fan for more than fifty-one years, let me conclude by saying we have to remember we never walk alone.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

VOICEOVER: US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stands as a distinguished economist and policy leader who has made remarkable contributions to building a more resilient US and global economy. Her extensive expertise and commitment to economic justice have shaped her career and policy agenda. Her dedication to evidence-based policymaking and her commitment to addressing economic disparities make her a pivotal figure in shaping a more equitable and fruitful future for all.

Yellen’s legacy will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on economic policy and the pursuit of a fairer, more prosperous world. The Atlantic Council is honored to celebrate her and her illustrious career tonight.

MINISTER CHRYSTIA FREELAND: Bonjour mes amis. C’est un très très grand plaisir, c’est une très honneur, d’être ici avec vous ce soir pour célébrer mon amie, l’excellente secrétaire du trésor des États-Unis, madame Janet Yellen.

We are today living through the most consequential moment in world history since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Brutal war has returned to Europe. People around the world are struggling with higher prices and elevated interest rates after a once-in-a-generation pandemic. Democracies are grappling with the clean energy transition, which is the most significant economic transformation since the industrial revolution itself. And it was Chancellor Scholz, actually, who used that term in a meeting of finance ministers that Secretary Yellen and I were at when he was still a humble finance minister.

At this profound historical inflection point for the global economy and for democracy itself, there is no person—and for sure, there is no woman—more uniquely suited for the truly essential role she occupies, than Secretary Janet Yellen. Now, why is Janet such a formidable leader for the world right now? First, because Secretary Yellen is a champion of economic policy that works for working people. As President Zelensky said, you can applause if you like. The approach she cleverly described as “modern supply-side economics,” a belief that investing in people and building an economy from the middle out is the path to strong steady growth—that approach will stand the test of time as the progressive response to the tried and failed plutocrat-enriching policy of trickle-down economics.

Second, we need Janet because Secretary Yellen has led and delivered a return of US economic leadership in the world. She has been a real visionary in driving closer economic cooperation between partners, in what she has called friend-shoring our economies. Now for a lot of people, for a lot of countries, a tempting response to Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, and to the economic vulnerabilities it exposed, could have been autarky. Instead, thanks significantly to the work of Secretary Yellen, the United States, Canada, and democracies around the world—including many in this room—are working more closely together than ever before, building our supply chains through each other’s economies, creating good careers for working people, and ensuring that democracies depend on democracies rather than on dictators.

Third, Secretary Yellen’s leadership has been critical in our response to Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine. Before Putin invaded, Secretary Yellen was there in meeting after meeting, rallying the world to create a sanctions package which was historic in scale, and which would snap into place if and when Putin’s tanks crossed Ukraine’s border. We all hoped—we hoped so much—that deterrence would work. But when it didn’t, we were prepared. Since that very, very dark morning, Secretary Yellen has been leading the fight to hold Putin and his henchmen accountable and to squeeze their revenues for war. With measures like the freeze on the assets of the Russian Central Bank, an excellent idea, and the oil price cap. You can also applause if you’d like.

Now, Secretary Yellen understands that, as she sometimes puts it at meetings of our allies, there are two fronts in this war—the military front and the economic front. She knows that we need to supply Ukraine with weapons and we need to supply Ukraine with money. And that is an effort Secretary Yellen has spearheaded. And let me just add Canada has, of course, been there too, providing the highest level of per capita financial support to Ukraine of any G7 country. So at this pivotal moment for Ukraine, for democracy itself, we are all so fortunate to have Secretary Yellen leading this most consequential of efforts.

Now, let me conclude where you may have expected me to start, with the glass ceiling. In his “Life of Samuel Johnson,” Boswell quotes Johnson as saying, “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not well done, but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Now, an echo of that swaggering contempt is something I am sure every single woman in this room has heard probably quite a few times when she’s been praised as the first woman to do whatever job she now holds. And that’s why I didn’t start by lauding Secretary Yellen as the first woman chair of the Federal Reserve and as the first woman secretary of the treasury, because the most important point about her is that she was an outstanding Federal Reserve chair and she is a formidable treasury secretary.

But it is also unfortunately still true that her gender matters and that it makes a difference. It matters to women in the United States who are pursuing careers in economics and finance, women—fields where women are still vastly outnumbered. It matters to me and to every other woman in the room. We find it easier to speak up and we find it a heck of a lot easier to be heard when we are in a meeting where the secretary of the treasury, Janet Yellen, is speaking as well. Usually, they let her talk first, by the way. And it matters to the billions of women around the world who see in Secretary Yellen their own rightful place at the head table of global leadership.

In the nearly three years we’ve worked together Secretary Yellen has been an incredibly important colleague, and she has also become a valued mentor and a friend. As an extra bonus, we make each other look tall in photos.

And so I am really, really honored and really happy to introduce a remarkable leader—a champion for working people, a champion for democracy, a champion for Ukraine, and, let’s face it, a role model for every single woman in this room, in this country, and in the room, my friend, the secretary of the treasury of the United States, Janet Yellen.

JANET L. YELLEN: Thank you. Thank you, everyone.

Thank you, Chrystia, for your kind words and for your leadership.

And thank you to the Atlantic Council. I’m honored to receive this award and to be among such distinguished fellow recipients.

When I was born, the world was still recovering from the devastation of the Great Depression and the Second World War. From the rubble of these crises, the United States and many other countries charted a postwar course premised on a conviction that each nation’s stability and growth depended on our collective security and prosperity.

This is equally, if not more, true today. I took office in the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic, which underscored just how interconnected we all are. From the beginning of the administration, we made clear that American isolation and retrenchment were over. And we set forth a new guiding principle. America is strongest when we engage with the world. As my nation’s chief economic diplomat, I have since worked to faithfully apply that principle.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, we witnessed the determination of the Ukrainian people as they fought for their lives and their freedom and for the values we all share. And we knew we had to support them with a decisive response.

As we look back on the past year and a half of the war, it’s clear that many of our actions so far would have been impossible to undertake if any country were attempting them alone. Our unprecedented multilateral sanctions regime and novel price cap on Russian oil exports are effective in pressuring Russia only because we acted as a global coalition. And I believe the global economy is in a better place than many of us would have thought possible a year ago due to our collective actions.

This commitment to multilateralism should drive our continued efforts to exert more pressure on Russia to end its unjust war and to support the Ukrainian people. And it should shape our actions in crises to come.

Robust engagement with the world is not confined to moments of crisis, however. It’s required, for example, to hold off the steady march of climate change, which is affecting communities across America and around the world; to invest in the global-health system that can prevent and withstand the next pandemic, avoiding the immense human toll and economic damage like that we saw from COVID-19; to create a fairer international tax system that ends a race to the bottom and benefits working people around the world.

So we have helped lead efforts to establish a pandemic fund and to align over 130 countries on a global minimum tax. We’ve put forward a new vision for development in the twenty-first century focused on global challenges, and we’ve collaborated with others to evolve the multilateral development banks to make good on it.

We’re also working to stabilize relations with China by seeking a healthy economic relationship that benefits both sides and enables cooperation on global challenges while protecting our vital national-security interests.

In sum, we’ve engaged with the world, including through committed coalition building and with a view to building the global economy we need for the long term. In today’s world, we’re in it together. And we have to go at it together if we want to make our nations and the world safer, healthier, and more prosperous.

Thank you again for this honor. I look forward to the collective work ahead of us. Thank you so much.

FREDERICK KEMPE: I’ll say just a couple of things before you get a very special treat to take you all home. So, first of all, we’d like to thank Edelman for in-kind event support for tonight. We’d like to recognize Foreign Policy and The Wall Street Journal Barron’s Group, my friend Almar Latour as the official media sponsors of the 2023 Global Citizen Awards. We thank the Ukrainian Institute of America for curating the collection of art played at our reception this year. And now, please give it up for Luke Frazier of American Pops, Robert Pullen and Nouveau Productions, for just remarkable in-house band for us, all the time. And Nouveau Productions is really best in class. So thanks to all of you.

We always like—we always like to send you home with something special. In honor of the extraordinary accomplishments of each of our honorees this evening, we dedicate this final moment to each of you, every one of you, in every seat, at every table, all over the room. To sing a piece from Disney’s “Hercules,” please welcome the extraordinary Broadway star, Nic Rouleau. And if you don’t know him already, and many of you already do, you’re going to know him after this. So, Nick, over to you.

Further reading

Image: The honorees of the Global Citizen Awards gather in New York on September 20, 2023.

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Sonos Beam Gen 2 Review: Home Theatre Quality In A Compact Package

Last Updated: September 20, 2023, 18:31 IST

Sonos Beam gen 2 soundbar comes at a hefty price

Sonos Beam gen 2 soundbar comes at a hefty price

Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a premium soundbar that has some interesting features but focus is on the sound and rightly so.

Sonos is a popular audio brand that dabbles in the premium segment where you have products ranging in the high Rs 50,000 bracket. Most people call it the audiophile segment, and that is because the people who pay big for quality audio know what they are seeking. Sonos is trying to appeal to that audience with its soundbar and over here we are talking about the Sonos Beam Gen 2 model that has been around in the market for a while, but still captures everyone’s interest not only because of its audio quality but the price tag as well.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 comes for Rs 53,999 which as we said fits into the audiophile mould but here’s the thing, TVs have now become affordable which means you can spend that extra 10 to 20K on a quality soundbar. So, does the Sonos Beam Gen 2 deliver on all the fronts for its price?

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Review: What’s Cool?

Sonos has a signature design touch which doesn’t go over the top and keeps it simple, which tends to work for most. Even with the Beam Gen 2 you realise that the body is compact, deceptively small in size (at least for the price), which makes people wonder what’s all the fuss about Sonos?

It has a solid presence even with its small stature and the broadened body ensures that the brand can pack in all the necessary woofers and tweets to get the audio ticking. You have the Sonos logo at the front over the plastic grille.

The soft touch buttons are at the top of the soundbar while the connectivity ports and power switch are at the back. You place on the counter next to your TV and it feels like a match made in heaven, at least for the aesthetics it offers.

Sonos is a tech brand as well, which gets amplified by its mobile app which lets you pair multiple Sonos speakers and customise the settings for the Beam Gen 2 soundbar as well. The Beam Gen 2 has its own Wi-Fi network which is visible in the settings of your phone.

Pair the soundbar to your phone using NFC and you get all the features rolled out on the screen. We did have some challenges in getting the soundbar paired but the process was generally seamless if you get the hang of Sonos and its ecosystem. But now, let’s about the audio quality.

Soundbar are meant to accentuate the sound output you get from the TV which in most cases have average audio setup. The Beam Gen 2 commands a premium because of its balanced audio notes and the deep bass doesn’t throw vocals out of the picture, literally.

Watching movies on the big screen with the Beam Gen 2 paired up was a delight and I am finding it hard to get back to my usual setup. Some might say it is exaggeration, but Sonos Beam Gen 2 has home theatre-like qualities that it brings to the table and your living room. The fact that Sonos has managed to offer this in a compact package makes it all the more impressive, even though it comes at a cost.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Review: What’s Not So Cool?

Sonos believes that Bluetooth doesn’t need to be included in its audio products, including the Beam Gen 2 soundbar, which means you need to use the HDMI eARC cable (bundled in the box) and the connector on your TV to make the best use of its high-fidelity music quality.

You also have Wi-Fi connectivity as an option but limiting the features to these two without no possible support for Bluetooth does leave you wanting. It is likely that Sonos feels that music through Bluetooth isn’t exactly lossless audio but then brands like Sony do offer the technology on its premium range and do it with good effect.

You will need a TV with Wi-Fi or eARC point to use the Beam Gen 2 which effectively negates the whole point of being wireless. Sonos is also giving an ethernet point in case you don’t have Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. It is a glaring miss but clearly part of Sonos’ feature set and specialty.

We also feel that for a soundbar that costs a premium, Sonos could give an LCD display unit to get the details of what’s playing on the soundbar. After all, not many would like to keep scrolling through their phone for these details.

Sonos Beam Gen 2 Review: Should You Buy?

Sonos Beam Gen 2 is a solid upgrade on the first-gen model but doesn’t lose its unique appeal thanks to the compact design yet high-quality sound output. You don’t get Bluetooth for pairing devices so you need Wi-Fi or HDMI eARC to make the best of the soundbar which pairs with an app on your phone for better customisations. If you are in the market for a premium soundbar then the Beam Gen 2 is a solid choice but only if you are fine with its limitations for the price tag.

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Folk clay figurine ‘blind boxes’ win over young people

Huishan clay figurines Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

Huishan clay figurines Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

Editor’s Note: 

How can art and culture from the past survive in a globalized world? Inheriting the treasure of art and culture from the past thousands of years, young Chinese have created a new trend – Guochao, or China chic. It refers to a movement started off by an increasing number of young people who are endeavoring to revive and reinvent China’s traditional culture.   

We can see fashion designers drawing inspiration from the precious murals inside the Yungang Grottoes, and traditional instrument players creating all new trendy music on the pipa. These young Guochao trendsetters have helped pass down China’s cultural legacies, preserving them for future generations.

In this new column, the Global Times will interview inspiring people who are using wisdom and creativity to reinterpret ­traditional Chinese culture in their particular fields of expertise. 

The third installment focuses on the reinvention of a very down-to-earth art: Chinese clay figurines.

A Huishan clay figurine Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

A Huishan clay figurine Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

Chinese clay figurines, a folk art that epitomizes the country’s ancient agricultural civilization with its “from the soil” nature, have been relegated to a marginal role in the lives of young people amid the rapid urbanization of recent decades. 

“However, this art is ingrained in us all, as we sow seeds in the earth and use this material as a medium of expression and creativity,” Wang Jie, vice general manager of the Huishan Clay Figurine Factory in Wuxi, East China’s Jiangsu Province, told the Global Times. To preserve and promote this art form, Wang and his team came up with an innovative idea: put the figures in blind boxes.

A type of packaging that keeps its contents hidden, blind boxes satisfy the psychological need for curiosity, excitement, and novelty among young consumers who are bored or stressed by their daily lives. According to Tmall, China’s largest online marketplace, about 200,000 post-1995 consumers bought blind boxes on its platform in 2019.

Blind boxes have been seen as one of the most lucrative business models in China since it emerged back in 2012. The 70-year-old clay figurine factory also noticed its appeal to Chinese youth.

In regard to the Huishan clay figurines, local elements were transformed into anthropomorphic figures for its first seven blind box characters. After 10,000 boxes were distributed to various trendy toy stores, the resulting monthly sales astonished the creators.

Over the weekend, the factory brought its most iconic characters, named A Fu and A Xi, to the recent China (Wuxi) International Design Expo to promote their products and their very inspiring ideas about Huishan clay figurines, which was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2006 along with nine other clay figurine folk arts.

Inside the enormous venue, many young people queued up in front of the company’s booth to get a cup of coffee and a lovely clay figurine blind box decorated with exquisite designs.

Wang said the adorable blind box figurines, the company’s first cultural and creative product, were launched in 2022. They became and still remain the most popular product in the market devised by the factory so far.

Huishan clay figurines can be traced back over 400 years ago to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). 

“The most basic material of Huishan clay figurines is the muck soil 40 to 100 centimeters under the rice fields in the Huishan area in Wuxi,” Wang explained while pointing at one of the company’s innovative products on display at the exhibition hall.

“I paid for at least two of these blind boxes because they are so cute and unique. They also remind me of my childhood and my culture,” Li Meng, a local 25-year-old customer from Jiangsu, told the Global Times. “Each figurine has a story behind it, and I feel like I’m learning something new every time I open one.”

In November, all of the factory’s designs will be taken to Malaysia, marking their debut overseas for a broader audience. 

An animal-shaped pillow inspired by the monster in the legend of A Fu Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

An animal-shaped pillow inspired by the monster in the legend of A Fu Photo: Courtesy of Huishan Clay Figurine Factory

Beast into business

Huishan clay figurines reached their zenith during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). These clay figurines can be classified into “coarse” and “fine” categories. Coarse figurines are mainly toys and often feature auspicious and blessing themes. They are made using molds and hand-painted with exaggerated shapes and simple lines, as they are intended for children’s amusement.

“When the clay figurines were created and popularized here in Wuxi in ancient times, they were fixed into two figures of a boy and a girl. But we are making breakthroughs in regards to their image,” said Wang.

“Elements range from Yuantouzhu cherry blossoms, the most representative object that people can find on the banks of Taihu Lake, to local cuisine, where Xiaolongbao [steamed soup dumplings] and fried spare ribs all have become the subjects of our improvement for clay figurines,” added Wang.

To further attract young customers and even international guests, the factory gave its creative department a new name for brand promotion: NANIMOMO. Derived from the Wuxi dialect, “nani” means Huishan, and “momo” the clay figurines themselves.

So far, the company has nearly 50 kinds of products based on the two traditional images, covering notebooks, bags, pillows and table decorations. In its newest release, the company is introducing a new set of images to fit into its Huishan Clay Figurine Legend Picture Book.

“Legend has it that A Fu was first offered in local temples as a god to ward off evil spirits, as a wild beast constantly disturbed the locals and left their lives restless. A Fu ­conquered the beast and calmed it down by simply holding it in his arms.”

The creative crew decided to recruit the wild beast into the business, and transformed it into a more adorable appearance, one staff member introduced to the Global Times while pointing at a wild beast pillow.

In addition to its creative product line, coffee shops are another important innovation the company is using to popularize these figurines and carry out its social responsibilities.

Among the 10 cafés open now in Wuxi, one is quite special for its recruitment of baristas who suffer from hearing loss.

Most of the café locations are inside scenic areas, where visitors are expected to step into a coffee shop for a rest while having a chance to make their own Huishan clay figurines. 

For local people, the memory of clay figurines is the memory of classics and traditions. Currently, there are about 30 young masters in the factory who continue to make Huishan traditional clay figurines, many of whom were born in the 1990s.

“In terms of innovation, whether it is the coffee or cultural and creative ­products, the profits generated will be fed back to this intangible cultural ­heritage, such as expanding the ­intangible cultural heritage team. Our cultural creation also relies on this intangible cultural heritage IP image,” said Wang.

Tang Dynasty (618-907) pottery figurines Photo: VCG

Tang Dynasty (618-907) pottery figurines Photo: VCG

Reinvention never stops

Soil is the soul of China, as the eminent scholar Fei Xiaotong observed in his seminal work From the Soil, a penetrating analysis of Chinese rural society in the 1940s. The same can be said of folk art, which draws its inspiration and material from the earth itself. 

Consider Huishan clay figurines, for instance. These exquisite sculptures are made from the rich and fine clay that lies beneath the rice fields of Huishan, a district in Wuxi. The clay has a remarkable property: It can be molded and shaped without cracking or breaking, making it ideal for crafting delicate and detailed figures. 

But the art of clay figurines goes back much further than Huishan. In fact, it can be traced to the dawn of Chinese civilization, when people in the Neolithic period (4,000-10,000 years ago) began to fashion clay into various forms and animals. 

For example, at the Peiligang cultural site in Xinzheng, Henan Province, archaeologists have discovered clay pigs and sheep heads that date back about 7,000 years, attesting to the ancient origins of clay art. 

Over time, different regions developed their own distinctive styles and features of clay figurines, with two prominent representatives being Clay Figure Zhang from Tianjin and Huishan Clay Figurine from Wuxi. 

The former is a folk art of colored clay figures that originated in the late Qing Dynasty and is named after its founder Zhang Mingshan from Tianjin. 

Zhang’s clay figurines are known for their realistic expressions, elegant colors, and strong realism, capturing the characters’ personalities and postures. 

Besides the Northern School of Clay Figure Zhang and the Southern School of Huishan Clay Figurines, there is also the Central Plains School, which emphasizes handmade molding, Hu Wenjun, a young culture reporter and clay art practitioner based in Henan, told the Global Times. 

“Their creations typically lack vibrant colors or embellishments, striving to maintain an earthy and natural appearance. These figurines rely on variations in body postures and facial expressions to convey the essence, vitality, and spirit of the characters,” Hu added. 

The inheritors of this art form have never ceased to reinvent and revitalize their clay culture. 

In 2022, during the Henan Spring Festival Gala, a children’s dance performance titled Yellow River Mud Babies was based on some Central Plains clay figurines created by Zhao Enmin, showcasing the heritage of Yellow River culture through intangible clay sculpture techniques. 

“After the performance was broadcast online, we found 20 percent of the viewership came from overseas. This shows the international interest in Chinese culture,” Zhao told local media. 

“Zhao’s artistic practice illustrates that intangible cultural heritage can evolve with the times and create new innovations. It not only adapts to the new urban lifestyles of the modern era but also extends beyond national borders to step onto the world stage,” Wang Zhenjun, a professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Zhengzhou University, told local media.

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