Skip to main content

BYU’s China Spectacular Tour Celebrates 40 Years of Friendship

Forty years ago, a group of Brigham Young University student performers traveled to China and put on a show that made history. This summer, the University is celebrating that anniversary with a return tour that highlights the relationship BYU and China have shared since 1979. Following the aftermath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, BYU’s initial tour made the Young Ambassadors and Living Legends among the first Western performing arts groups to enter the country. The tour was the idea of then-BYU President Dallin H. Oaks, who had met with President Spencer W. Kimball of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1978. President Kimball spoke highly of China’s high standards and family values and upon returning from the meeting, President Oaks asked BYU officials to begin making plans for a performing arts group to go to China, despite no established U.S.-Chinese diplomatic relations at that time. But the diplomatic relations did happen in early 1979 and the show fell into place. Newly-launched China Central Television asked to broadcast BYU’s live performance and, even after the group had left the country, the channel continued to rebroadcast the performance. In the past 39 years, BYU performing groups have returned to China 28 more times. Read the full story at