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Moscow residents learn Chinese language, culture at new center

Tamara Nikolayevna has mastered many artistic skills, including acting and sculpting, but never expected to start learning traditional Chinese painting at the age of 75.

"I long for Chinese culture, but it's a pity I have not had the chance to experience it or been to China before. Now, my daughter is so surprised that I can paint such a beautiful picture after only taking two classes," said Nikolayevna, one of the Russians studying traditional Chinese painting at the Chinese Culture Center in Moscow.

The establishment of the center in December is one of the latest efforts by China to help more Russians learn the language and culture of China.

Zhang Zhonghua, Chinese cultural counselor to Russia, said: "With the most frequent-ever cultural exchanges between the two countries recently, more and more Russian people would like, and have more opportunities, to know about Chinese culture."

Zhang said the center has launched Chinese calligraphy, paper-cutting, Chinese language and martial-arts classes besides the painting class.

Natalia Volonaya, a 55-year-old Russian teacher at the center, said when she began learning traditional Chinese painting 10 years ago, she had to practice it on newspapers, as Chinese rice paper was not available then.

"Look at it now. The center prepares the best environment for studying and there are more Chinese teachers and classes in Russia, too," she said before giving a lesson to dozens of Russian students.

But Volonaya is also looking for more access to Chinese culture, as she believes that being outstanding at Chinese painting requires not only mastering painting skills, but also sufficient knowledge of Chinese philosophy