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'Extraordinary showcase'

Updated: Nov 23, 2021 China Daily Print
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Yue-Sai Kan talks about her career in China and points to an article about her on the wall of her home in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in October. She also discusses the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in China.[Photo provided to China Daily]

TV host and entrepreneur Yue-Sai Kan says the Winter Olympics will be a good opportunity for the world to understand China more, Minlu Zhang reports in New York.

From the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics to the 2010 Expo Shanghai and to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Yue-Sai Kan is a witness to international events. When talking about the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics, Kan is full of enthusiasm. The Chinese have a certain pride when it comes to this kind of global event, Kan says.

"I remember when they first announced the Winter Olympics to be held in China. It created such excitement among people, particularly young people. The young people are the most excited about winter sports," she says. "I bet you anything we have about 300 million Chinese that are engaged in winter sports (today). That is just totally amazing."

Kan often travels around China. From the time when people in China came into contact with winter sports for the first time to the upcoming Winter Olympics in China today, Kan has witnessed the rapid development of the country and profound changes in social life. The way people lead a healthy life is becoming more and more diverse.

"China is growing so much, everything then and now-it's like two different worlds. I remember there were hardly any real winter sports, maybe ice skating, but today there are 700(winter sports) resorts in China. That's really amazing," Kan says.

At her home in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York, Kan is wearing a red sweater and red earrings. Her eyes are gleaming with energy and she is always smiling when she looks at you. Kan, an Emmy-winning television host and producer who created the Yue-Sai cosmetics brand, which became China's leading cosmetics company, was once called "the most famous woman in China" by People magazine, and Time magazine proclaimed her "the queen of the Middle Kingdom".

In the 1970s, Kan created her first major TV production Looking East, which was the first of its kind to introduce Asian culture and customs to a growing and receptive American audience. The New York Times said the TV program "bridges the East and West".

Yue-Sai Kan talks about her career in China and points to an article about her on the wall of her home in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in October. She also discusses the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in China.[Photo provided to China Daily]

In 1984, PBS invited Kan to host the first live broadcast from China on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. Two years later, a bilingual television series One World produced by Kan aired on CCTV.With an audience of more than 300 million, the program gave many Chinese their first glimpse of the outside world.

Kan says the Olympics are good opportunities to enhance exchanges between peoples and nations. The 2008 Summer Olympics was like an announcement of the Chinese government saying: "Hey, welcome to Beijing. We are ready to receive you. We are ready and open. We are ready to see you."

"I think that the 2022 Winter Olympics are the same thing. The Chinese have been preparing a great deal for a long time for such a wonderful occasion … It would be an extraordinary showcase for what the Chinese accomplished in this area of sports," Kan says.

"And what is great is that on the land of China, they are able to actually see the greatest champions in the world, whether they are Chinese, Japanese or Americans that are from all over the world. Always, by looking at the best in the world, you learn. I think the young people will learn a great deal from these people that are coming to compete. It's going to be a great experience," she says.

Kan has been working on cultural exchanges between China and the United States for a long time. Her ABC documentary China: Walls and Bridge earned her an Emmy Award. The US Congressional Record called Kan a "citizen ambassador". For her, if you have never been to a country, then you cannot understand the country well.

"If you've never been to China, you cannot only talk about the bad in China because you have to see with your own eyes, all the good and the bad about the country. If you haven't been to America, you don't really know America very well, all the good and bad of America. No country is perfect. I believe that we should allow everybody to be so open to everything they want to see," she says.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be a good opportunity for the world to understand China more. "It is such an extraordinary opportunity for people to really embrace each other, to engage each other in a totally nonpolitical situation," Kan says.

"I always believe in people-to-people exchanges. Sometimes there are things that people can do that the government cannot do," she adds. "I'm very, very confident that a lot of people will leave China with a full understanding of what that country is all about."

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