Month: October 2009

Smashing Chunks from the Great Firewall in Berlin / Ai Weiwei in Munich

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Chinese Avant-Garde / Cultural Politics / German / Sino-German Relations

A great convergence is occuring again between Germany and China.  As the 9 November anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (“der Mauerfall” / “le chute de la Mur”) approaches, further thoughts are twisting around the notions of democracy and democratic change. Two examples: The first is the Berlin Twitterwall, a magnificent little online monument to the fall of the wall.  The site was basically overtaken by comments by Chinese netizens denouncing the Great […]

Anti-Chinese Propaganda for North Koreans

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Korean War / Sino-North Korean relations

The Hoover Institution Archives houses one of the world’s finest collections of political propaganda.  Here are a few selected images from the Far East Command, Psywar Division, in the Korean War.  I find these particularly interesting because the themes are in some ways returning in North Korean society — Chinese economic preeminence in the DPRK, China’s predilection for loud and large vehicles on the border, and China’s big appetite for food in contrast to North […]

Chinese Youth Delegation Visits Pyongyang

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Sino-North Korean relations

The Huanqiu Shibao reports that a Chinese youth delegation is back from a six-day trip to Pyongyang. The article, written in the form of an interview with a starstruck student is, frankly, a scandalous sop to the DPRK, reprising the most naive observations about Pyongyang (did you know the city has beautiful traffic cops?) and heaping praise upon North Korean youth for their spirit of national independence and willingness to study hard. In the article […]

Soft Power Fiddling Meets Open-Throat Singing: Big Goings-On in New York

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Chinese Avant-Garde / Chinese nationalism / Cultural Politics / Music / U.S.-China Relations

Yesterday the Sunday New York Times suddenly became worth its asking price of $6 by carrying a large advertisement laying out the immense variety of China-related musical activites going on in Manhattan this week.  In effect, the PRC is taking over the beating heart of the classical music world, with the exception of the Metropolitan Opera, an institution which has already lionized Placido Domingo as Qin Shihuangdi.  For East Asia’s biggest country, whose cultural ensembles […]

Iris Chang and the Politics of Emotional Authenticity

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Sino-Japanese Relations / World War II

Not particularly as a matter of choice, of late I have been thinking about the aftermath.   War, genocide, and mass violence are giant forces which have thrown up immense detritus in Northeast Asia: memorialization is the norm, but so, too, is the suppression of memory and its manipulation by politician-revolutionaries of all stripes. Japanese politicians enter Yasukuni Shrine while Chinese leaders put their husky lungs into anti-Japanese anthems; Japanese peace activists see their monuments […]