HK divided over Forbidden City museum plan

Source: BBC News (1/10/17)
Hong Kong divided over Forbidden City museum plan
By Juliana Liu, Hong Kong correspondent, BBC News

A man walks through a gate inside the Forbidden City in Beijing on 29 September 2016.

GETTY IMAGES: Items from the Forbidden City collection would be sent on loan to the museum in Hong Kong

The Forbidden City in Beijing has housed generations of Chinese emperors for hundreds of years. A museum since 1925, it now welcomes more than 14 million visitors a year, drawn to its ornate gates, inner palaces and nearly two million pieces of imperial art and antiques.

Those cultural treasures, however, have become the focus of a dispute in Hong Kong. Continue reading

Time to ramp up China’s soft power

Source: China Daily (12/27/16)
Time to ramp up China’s soft power
By Harvey Dzodin |

Time to ramp up China's soft power

A round table meet is held at the Ancient Town Summit 2016 in Guiyang on Dec 13. [Photo/]

China has already achieved better soft power success at home than before. Recently I attended the Qingyan Ancient Town Summit in Guiyang, Guizhou province. Progress in building attractions such as ancient towns is accelerating and China Development Bank even funds financially sound proposals.

Although we don’t think of the Forbidden City as an ancient town, it is the granddaddy of them all, and among the world’s most visited museums. Its dynamic director Shan Qixiang spoke about his successful efforts to make it more authentic, user-friendly, accessible and profitable. Continue reading

Giant rooster with Trumpian characteristics

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (12/29/16)
China Warmly Welcomes a Giant Rooster With Trumpian Characteristics


A giant rooster sculpture resembling President-elect Donald J. Trump outside a shopping mall in Taiyuan, China. The statue was built to celebrate the coming Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar. Credit: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

HONG KONG — President-elect Donald J. Trump’s golden quiff, bushy eyebrows and preening gestures were immortalized this week in China — though perhaps not in a way that he would like.

They appeared on a giant rooster statue, just above some three-toed feet and a blood-red wattle that hangs below a gilded nose and mouth. Continue reading

Macao gambling firms visit Jinggangshan

Curiouser and curiouser. I wish I could have put this in the chapter on red tourism in my museum book!–Kirk

Source: Global Times (12/14/16)
Macao gambling firms’ trip to red site met with amusement, anger online
By Zhang Yu

A group of some 60 staff members from Macao’s casino industry recently visited red site Jinggangshan for a one-week patriotic course, sparking discussions from mainland netizens over its significance.

Staff members of Macao casino companies pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs in Jinggangshan, East China's Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings

Staff members of Macao casino companies pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs in Jinggangshan, East China’s Jiangxi Province. Photo: Courtesy of Sociedade de Jogos de Macau Holdings

Every year, millions of visitors flock to China’s red sites to pay tribute to deceased communist leaders and learn about the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) revolutionary past. Continue reading

Poly Culture Group (5)

I touched on Poly Group’s role in the repatriation of the 12 bronze zodiac heads in an essay on the increasingly complex and oftentimes bizarre relationship between art, politics, and cultural consumption in contemporary China that was recently published in the Rocky Mountain Review

Green, Frederik. “The Twelve Chinese Zodiacs: Ai Weiwei, Jackie Chan and the Aesthetics, Politics, and Economics of Revisiting a National Wound.” The Rocky Mountain Review, volume 70.1, Summer 2016 (pp. 45-58).

Fred Green <>

Poly Culture Group (4)

I first heard of Poly when looking into the ugly demolition situation in Xian Village in Guangzhou’s Pearl River New City in 2010 and 2011. The “respect” shown to cultural items / relics unfortunately does not translate into respect for fellow human beings.

David Bandurski’s recent book “Dragons in Diamond Village” is a great read and a detailed study of the Xian Village situation, opening the discussion of this particular case involving Poly into the broader issue of urbanisation in china today (

Kevin Carrico <>

China Poly Group (1,2,3)

I read a few but very interesting remarks about the China Poly Group in Marzia Varutti’s book Museums in China – The Politics of Representation after Mao, published 2014. On Page 48-50 and on page 85 Varutti writes that the China Poly Group’s director used to be a highranking officer of the People’s Liberation Army. The China Poly Group also founded the NGO “China Foundation for the Development of Social Culture” in 2002 and is focusing on purchasing Chinese cultural relics by auction, which provenience might be doubtful or at least unknown.

Stefanie Schaller <>


Thanks for that! Not bad as an introduction. Very interesting that they are globalizing themselves even more. There’s been quite a few writings about the Poly group before, including when they’ve bought “back” things on auction in HK. Continue reading

Poly Culture Group?

Does anyone know anything more about the Poly Culture Group? This notice appeared in the “Entertainment” section of an online business news site.–Terry Russell <>

Source: Business Vancouver (12/6/16)
Hard currency, soft power: Poly Culture rolls into B.C.
Multi-pronged Chinese state-owned corporation opens art gallery in Vancouver
By Bob Mackin


Tour guide Liqun Wan (left) points out the mix of European and Chinese motifs in a gold animatronic clock during the opening of Poly Culture Gallery in downtown Vancouver | Photo: Chung Chow

A division of one of China’s biggest state-owned corporations, which has links to the military, opened a downtown Vancouver art gallery gallery November 30, and its CEO said corporate siblings may follow. 

“Coming to Vancouver is connected with Poly Culture Group’s strategy decided by its directors; whether Poly Real Estate and Poly Technologies will come to Canada will be decided by themselves,” Poly Culture CEO Jiang Yingchun told Business in Vancouver through an interpreter. “But according to all my knowledge, they are also very interested in the Vancouver market. For example, Poly Real Estate has sent people to come to visit Vancouver twice to know the environment here.” Continue reading

The most beautiful book in China

Source: China Daily (11/15/16)
The most beautiful book revealed in China

The most beautiful book revealed in China

The book cover of Opera in Ink and Wash. [File photo]

Twenty-five kinds of books, including Shuimo Xiju (Opera in Ink and Wash) and The Empire of the Written Symbol for Children, from 18 publishers nationwide have been called “the most beautiful book in China” on Monday, and will compete for “the most beautiful book in the world” in 2017.

The event “the most beautiful book in China” was established in 2003 and hosted by the Shanghai Municipal Press and Publication Bureau. The event invites top book designers worldwide as judges to select the most beautifully designed books which reflects the spirit and essence of Chinese culture.

The “the most beautiful book in China” selection has become a major platform leading fine Chinese book designs and designers to the world. So far, 15 kinds of Chinese books have been honored the laurel of “the most beautiful book in the world”. Continue reading

The Great Sidewalk

Source: NPR (9/22/16)
Call It The Great Sidewalk: Chinese Officials Under Fire For ‘Repairs’ To Great Wall
By Merrit Kennedy

Chinese officials are under fire after a local government tried to repair a section of the Great Wall by apparently just paving it over. Now, a centuries-old stretch of the wall looks more like a gray sidewalk than a global treasure.

“The five-mile stretch of wall in northeast Liaoning province is known as a particularly scenic part of the ‘wild wall,’ ” NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing. “Its towers and parapets are partially crumbled by seven centuries of wind and rain.”

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Continue reading

China Paw-litics, anyone? (2)

Dear all, thanks for interesting comments earlier on dogs and pets in China. I sympathize with Claire Huot’s comments as well. But I still think dogs raised for food can be perfectly OK. I’ve been invited, in China, to share dogs that were raised locally and respectfully, and then eaten, and I can’t see why one should not eat them, any less than any other human-raised animal, whether duck or pig or cattle or chicken (if one is to eat any of them at all … and, needless to say, without abusing any of them).

I have contributed a chapter on human-animal relations in China, to a book on China and its neighbors, _The Art of Neighbouring_, which is now already listed — though it may be a few weeks before it can be bought). My chapter is mostly about neighborly relations to wild animals, in contrast to domestic and pet animals in human charge/care:

Fiskesjö, Magnus. “China’s Animal Neighbours.” In Martin Saxer and Zhang Juan, eds. The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations Across China’s Borders. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press (2016). ISBN: 9789462982581.


Magnus Fiskesjö <>

The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution

Tickets are now available for Making the New World: The Arts of China’s Cultural Revolution a two-day international conference convened by Prof. Jiehong Jiang, director of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) at Birmingham City University in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery.

When: 11-12 November 2016
Venue: Zilkha Auditorium, Whitechapel Gallery, London, E1 7QX.

We invite researchers, artists, designers, curators and practitioners at all stages of their careers worldwide to reassess the significance of the arts and culture of the Cultural Revolution, the 9th CCVA Annual Conference reflects upon their impacts on everyday life in China within socio-political, cultural and global contexts. Continue reading

Zhang Yimou directs G20 gala

Source: CCTV America (9/1/16)
G20 evening gala opens with entertainment showcase on West Lake

The G20 leaders are in for quite a treat once they all arrive in Hangzhou. A performance Sunday evening will be directed by one of the most famous people in China’s entertainment industry. And something spectacular awaits the G20 leaders in the lakeside town. Actors and directors are gearing up for the evening gala on September 4th, in a showcase what will be an unforgettable view of the magnificent West Lake. Continue reading

Shariah with Chinese characteristics

Source: NYT (9/6/16)
Shariah With Chinese Characteristics: A Scholar Looks at the Muslim Hui

Matthew S. Erie, a trained lawyer and ethnographer who teaches at Oxford University, lived for two years in Linxia, a small city in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu. Known as China’s Mecca, it is a center of religious life for the Hui, an ethnic minority numbering 10 million who practice Islam. Along with the Turkic Uighurs, they are one of 10 officially recognized ethnic groups that practice Islam, making the total population of Muslims in China around 23 million, according to the 2010 government census. Continue reading

Core socialist values in song and dance

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (9/1/16)
China’s ‘Core Socialist Values,’ the Song-and-Dance Version

BEIJING — The 12 “core socialist values” are memorized by schoolchildren, featured in college entrance exams, printed on stamps and lanterns, and splashed on walls across China. Now they have made their way into 20 song-and-dance routines that the authorities in Hunan Province plan to promote to the country’s millions of “square dancers,” the mostly middle-aged and older women who gather in public squares to perform in unison. Continue reading