Cogs and Wheels: The material culture of revolutionary China

March 16, 2008

Sometimes I feel like such a hypocrite

Filed under: China, Protest, Tibet, Web resources — amyjaneb @ 12:48 pm

I’m feeling really torn; between my love of China (my obsession, in fact) and distress at what is happening in Tibet.  Similarly, I cannot wait for the Olympics in Beijing, and yet I am uneasy about my resultant lack of interest in supporting the boycott of the Games over Darfur and Tibet.  Thus, I felt it was wrong for me not to recognise here the ‘cultural genocide’* taking place under the aegis of the Chinese authorities, even though it is decidedly off-topic.  ‘Though, having said that, contemporary Chinese activities in Tibet are likely to have a big impact on the image of China in the West, especially given the current attention focused on Chinese heritage and culture.  Though only if the media gives it full and due attention (something that appears a little lacking at present, IMHO).

Anyway, Jeremiah and the Peking Duck community are doing a valiant job at keeping readers informed and updated about the situation in Tibet.

In other news, my total lack of posts in recent weeks is mainly due to the fact that I am now well into the writing-up process.  And it’s sapping most of my time and energy (as it should!). 

*The Dalai Lama’s words, not mine – ‘though I am inclined to agree.

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May 14, 2007

Someone takes matches to Mao

Filed under: China, Mao, Material culture/art & design, Protest — amyjaneb @ 6:08 pm

As reported by – amongst others – The Peking Duck, a 35 year old man, Gu Hai’ou, was arrested on Saturday afternoon after throwing a burning torch at the monumental portrait of Mao that overlooks Tiananmen Square. The authorities have said that Gu is mentally ill and he has been taken into custody. The portrait – a new version, which had only been on display since October last year – suffered a small scorch mark and has already been replaced. No other details have been released at present.

What fascinates me is how quickly the damaged portrait was replaced, suggesting that the Chinese authorities readily anticipate that, from time-to-time, people will take out their frustrations on the Great Helmsman.  Indeed, this isn’t the first time the portrait has been vandalised.  The last, most infamous occasion, occurred during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, when a group of three young men threw paint-filled eggs at Mao’s image.  The whole incident, and aftermath, has been documented in video by Kempton in Egging Chairman Mao.

Incidentally, the original painting on which the current Tiananmen portrait of Mao is based was set to be auctioned off last year, but internal pressure (i.e. ‘advice from the Government’) halted the sale.  It is now ensconced at the National Museum in Beijing.

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