Now that China’s National People’s Congress has voted – 2,958 to two – to abolish presidential term limits, Xi Jinping could rule China indefinitely, rather than completing a tenure of two five-year terms in 2023. To what degree is Xi set to become the all-powerful ruler many observers predict?
The first time I saw Ai Weiwei’s art, I was appalled. Almost twenty years ago, long before he became an internationally-known contemporary artist, one of my Chinese-language classmates at Qinghua University brought me to Ai’s studio on the outskirts of Beijing.
Read more at: https://chinachannel.org/2017/10/20/exhibition-as-theater/.
The newspaper headlines that have bracketed my summer trip to Hong Kong have been dark. In mid-July the city, once a British colony and now a Chinese Special Administrative Region, was mourning Liu Xiaobo, a political prisoner and Nobel Laureate who died of cancer under custody.
In the past, Cultural Revolution culture has been easy to dismiss. Despite Western fascination will objects that we might call “Mao kitsch”—buttons, statues, and posters—and Chinese nostalgia for Cultural Revolution music or plays, we have written off these cultural products as “just propaganda,” or not really culture at all.
When we teach the Cultural Revolution here in the United States, our textbook version is that Chairman Mao, fearing “revisionism” within his own Communist Party, launched an attack on perceived internal enemies. Our students tend to be most fascinated with the Red Guards, young people who Mao called on to “make revolution” by joining him in an attack on the old world.
This year, the 43rd annual Hong Kong Arts Festival commissioned a chamber opera in three acts called Datong: The Chinese Utopia. Depicting the life and times of Kang Youwei (1858-1927), a philosopher and reformer of China’s last Qing dynasty, it premiered in the theater of the Hong Kong City Hall.
A week ago today I sat together with you outside the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s library, a teacher among other teachers, a university member beside students, 13,000 strong. The weeks before had felt quiet.