Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chinese History Roundup

Rana Mitter, "The Opium War by Julia Lovell – review," Guardian, September 2, 2011

The newly refurbished National Museum of China opened in March 2011 in Tiananmen Square, adorned with groundbreaking technology and architecture. But the story it tells is far less innovative than the design. In the museum's narrative, China's modern period of history opens with the opium war, the original sin of western imperialism in East Asia that forced China to open itself to a century of humiliation, conquest and exploitation until Chairman Mao came to sweep all that away. It's titled "The Road to Rejuvenation", but it could just as easily be called "1842 and all that". This version of the past says more about contemporary Chinese politics, still drawing on China's history as a victim of western imperialism, than it does about the reality of the clash between the 19th century's greatest land and naval empires. Even in a 21st-century museum, the stain of a history more than 150 years old is central.>>>

Daniel J. Watkin, "Historical Opera Is Canceled in Beijing," NYT blog, September 26, 2011

An opera about Sun Yat-sen, China’s first president and Nationalist leader, has been canceled shortly before its scheduled opening at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing because of official objections to the music, according to the composer’s representatives. The work, “Dr. Sun Yat-sen” by Huang Ruo and a production of Opera Hong Kong, was to have opened on Friday, roughly coinciding celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese revolution. Mr. Ruo’s management, Karsten Witt Music Management in Berlin, said a government official had gone to rehearsals and decided that the music was inappropriate.>>>

John DeFore, "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame (Di Renjie)," Washington Post, September 23, 2011

Filmmaker Tsui Hark, who helped define Hong Kong cinema in the '80s and '90s, brings supernatural sleuthing to the Tang Dynasty in "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame," a lightweight but enjoyable yarn set in the days before the official rise to power of China's only empress regnant.>>>

Karen Wada, "Huntington Library sets shows on American history, Chinese mirrors," LA Times, September 1, 2011

Two American history shows -- one looking at the sweeping changes spawned by the transcontinental railroad and the other at how Civil War photographs influenced the ways the nation grieved -- will highlight the 2012 exhibition season at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. . . . The Huntington also is announcing Thursday an addition to its 2011 calendar: the first public display of a group of Chinese bronze mirrors spanning 3,000 years. "Ancient Chinese Bronze Mirrors from the Lloyd Cotsen Collection," which will run Nov. 12 to May 14, will feature about 80 intricately decorated items from the Qijia Culture (c. 2100 to 1700 B.C.) to the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).>>>

David Whiting, "‘New’ China asks for understanding," OC Register, September 23, 2011

. . . . Echoing many I met, Hong Lei, a deputy director-general at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, suggested that instead of looking at China from an American perspective, try looking at China though a Chinese perspective.

For Lei and others, that means getting to know a little Chinese history. Why history?

Stuff happens and laws get made, often for a reason.

Consider our First and Second Amendments. Without British oppression, they might not exist.

In a small-world twist, British oppression also helped form modern China.>>>

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