The UK Government is claiming a breakthrough in winning the first Chinese sponsorship for a British arts company. It’s worth half a million pounds over five years and it’s between Wuliangye Yibin Company, makers of a rice liquor, and the Philharmonia Orchestra, who don’t mind a drink.
Liu Zhongguo, chairman of Wuliangye, said at a Downing Street reception: ‘This historic collaboration will integrate one of China’s premier beverage brands with classical Western music and we hope the sponsorship will inspire people to enjoy the harmonious balance of drinking fabulous alcohol while listening to world-class classical music. We look forward to strengthening the understanding and recognition between Eastern and Western culture for both the Chinese and British, and the great revitalization of the arts that this will bring.’
David Whelton, the Philharmonia’s managing director, is quoted in Chinese media saying: ‘ With the help of our orchestra, Wuliangye will get Royal favour and enter the UK market, and the global market.’ The Philharmonia’s patron is HRH Prince Charles. In Wuliangye’s press campaign in China, Prince Charles is mentioned several times as the ‘one who invited the chairman of Wuliangye to UK’.