By Ralph Beha  

Every two years, Minneapolis’ sister city of Harbin, China, hosts a music festival, with more than 100 music and theater performing groups from around the world.  This August, the Minnesota Chapter of the US-China Peoples Friendship Association arranged for and supported a U.S.-based ensemble, The Braided Candle, to attend and perform at the 33rd China Harbin Summer Music Festival.  

Greenman, Gao and Beha at the Harbin Grand
The Braided Candle is a collaboration between two master musicians in widely divergent musical traditions and genres, who first came together in 2011 to create a unique blend of traditional Chinese and traditional EasternEuropean Jewish folk music.  Gao Hong, a master performer and teacher of the pipa (a Chinese pear-shaped lute), has lived in the U.S. since 1994 and performs internationally and teaches in the World Music program at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.  Steven Greenman composes and performs as a solo violinist with symphony orchestras as well as ensembles with other musicians playing klezmer, Romani and other Eastern European styles.  During their August 8 and 9 performances in Harbin, Greenman also performed excerpts from the Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto, accompanied by local Harbin pianist Li Mengtong.

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By Judy Hohmann, Dragon Festival 

Nearly 14,000 visitors to the 14th annual Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen and Phalen Park on a sunny weekend in July celebrated the competitive spirit of the dragon-boat races and Minnesota's diverse Asian cultures and traditions.  Included were Asian-American performers, martial arts demonstrations,  children activities and, of course, ethnic foods.  Phalen Park also houses the “Meditation” sculpture by Changsha artist Lei Yixin, created and dedicated in July 2006. 

The opening of the Dragon Festival was commemorated with a traditional "lion dance" and performed by pan-Asian artists: the Green Dragon Kung Fu Club, Hui Lucky Dragon Dance’s group and Hmong Qeej Musicians.  Hmong Elder Uncle Charles Vu led a special Hmong blessing.  

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By Greg Hugh | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF) recently honored Bill and Mary Ferrell, owners of Royal Foods, headquartered in Hopkins, Minn., for being long-time supporters of CHF’s event “A Passage to China” that had been held annually at Mall of America since 2006.

Yin Simpson, CHF board member, and I met with the Ferrells at their office and presented them with a framed painting along with a letter of appreciation from CHF Executive Director Pearl Bergad.

I “recruited” the Ferrells to provide storage space for the ever-accumulating props for the event since 2005, which included two life-size terra cotta warriors that must weigh thousands of pounds!  At that time, I was committee chair of “A Passage to China” and I was able to solicit the Ferrells’ support because they were great neighbors of mine.  Not only did the Ferrells provide CHF with the much needed storage space, they also were kind enough to provide transportation of all this material to and from their warehouse in Hopkins to Mall of America each year.

Disclosure: Greg Hugh, publisher of China Insight, which partnered with CHF to create “A Passage to China,” served as CHF’s Board chair from 2005 to 2014.  China Insight has chronicled the event over the years and you can read these articles at, check the May issues under the “Past issues” tab

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By Linda Mealey-Lohmann, Minnesota China Friendship Garden Society

The site dedication ceremony for the St. Paul-Changsha China Friendship Garden took place on July 9, during the opening ceremony of the Dragon Festival at Phalen Park.  

A parade of lion dancers from Hui’s Lucky Lion Dance Team led a procession along Lake Phalen from the dragon boat docks to the future China Garden site.  Once at the site, Carole Hyder, international feng shui expert and China Garden advisor, performed a feng shui site dedication ritual at the future site of the Changsha Aiwan Pavilion replica, which involved ringing a special bell and scattering seeds and other ingredients with symbolic meanings.  Hmong Elder Uncle Charles Vu gave a Hmong blessing at the site of the future Hmong Cultural Plaza nearby.  A sign announcing the China Friendship Garden was placed in the ground.  

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By Pearl Bergad, executive director, Chinese Heritage Foundation

As the Sept. 10 world premiere of the opera “Dream of the Red Chamber“ to be produced by the San Francisco Opera (SFO) draws near, the Chinese Heritage Foundation Friends (CHFF) has been working hard to put together a memorable weekend in San Francisco for attendees.  In addition to working with SFO to create a webpage for online ticket discount to the world premiere, CHFF is also working on a pre-premiere sumptuous banquet on the evening of Sept.  9.  Individuals interested in these events should contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as soon as possible.  SFO expects the world premiere to sell out quickly.

To familiarize attendees with the story of “Dream of the Red Chamber” and its background, the University of Minnesota is creating a new online course on “Dream” for the public.  Ann Waltner, who teaches in the Department of History at the University, is in charge and says, “This online course is free and open to the public.  It will feature segments on the characters in the novel, on the controversies surrounding the text, commentaries, and adaptations of the novel, including television shows and movies.  A special feature of this course will be attention to early 19th century women writers' responses to the novel and illustrations of the novel.”  This course will be hosted on the James Ford Bell Library website ( and will be available in early July from the library's home page.  There may be an option to take the course for credit (which would of course involve paying tuition).  Anyone interested in that possibility should contact Waltner directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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CHINAINSIGHT (CI) is published monthly ((except July/August and November/December are combined) by China Insight, Inc., an independent, privately owned company started in 2001 and headquartered in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota.

CHINAINSIGHT is the only English-language American newspaper to focus exclusively on connections between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Our goal is to develop a mutual understanding of each other’s cultures and business environments and to foster U.S.-China cultural and business harmony.