Monday, February 16, 2009

Art Initiates Strife

The New York Times hosted a couple of Taiwan-related articles today. First was a human interest tale on Kirsten Gillibrand, the new Senator from NY, who studied Chinese right here on The Beautiful Isle:
During her studies abroad in 1986, first in Beijing, then in Taichung, Taiwan, Ms. Gillibrand, then a junior, sampled everything from congee to dried cuttlefish and stinky tofu. She used a slide projector to show images of people and places she photographed, talked constantly to ordinary Chinese, took up tai chi and navigated her bicycle through Beijing’s thoroughfares and narrow alleys.
Taichung! What excellent taste she shows....

Meanwhile China is going to lend us some art, works from the Qing Dynasty:
There was some disagreement on Monday over how many pieces of art would be lent. The National Palace Museum said that at least 29 works and possibly more would be coming. A spokesman for the Palace Museum in Beijing said that a decision had been made to lend works to the Taipei museum, but no agreement had been reached on the number.

State-run media in Beijing, which usually serve as carefully orchestrated mouthpieces for government policy on Taiwan in particular, could not agree on Monday on the number of works that the Beijing authorities would allow to be shipped to Taipei. The official China Daily newspaper said that 29 pieces would be lent while the official Xinhua news agency said that 17 works would be included.

A delegation of officials from the Beijing museum is scheduled to travel to Taipei next month to work out the details. The National Palace Museum plans to borrow the works for a three-month exhibition starting in October of art from the Qing dynasty reign of Emperor Yongzheng, who ruled from 1723 to 1735.
At least one purpose is to stimulate the the tourism industry here -- mayhap those Chinese tourist hordes will follow their art across the Taiwan Strait. As everyone knows, Taiwan has been trying to attract more tourists from China, with embarrassingly little real success. More tourists was one of Ma's election promises, but artworks from China also give the impression that his cross-strait policy is a success without actually costing anybody anything -- nobody has to give up their markets, like Taiwanese gravel shippers did, or impair the national sovereignty, as Ma has several times. Ok, maybe a little, since the National Palace Museum director had to drop the word "national" from the title on a recent visit there....

Whether Taiwan should return the favor and lend art to China is a severe problem. China claims the whole collection belongs to Beijing -- which it most assuredly does -- and Beijing may attempt to seize anything sent over even if it signs an agreement with Taiwan not to. Funny how no one ever points out the glaring contradiction in claiming that it is safe for Taiwan to move closer to Clearly Filled With Love For Taiwan As Evidenced By Two Pandas(tm) Beijing, while at the same time worrying that it cannot be trusted not to seize a few works of art. If they can't be trusted with Qing dynasty hairpins, how can they be trusted with the island's security?

The costs of the KMT's cross-strait strategy is not only being borne by Taiwanese but also by Hong Kongers, who will see direct links eviscerate what had been one of the world's busiest air routes....
Against the backdrop of the opening last Dec. 15 of direct air and shipping links between Taiwan and China, the number of Taiwanese visitors transiting in Hong Kong is expected to shrink by 33 percent -- or 527,000 person-visits this year -- from the 1.591 million posted in 2008 to 1.064 million, the board said.
I am sure Hong Kongers must be delighted with this opportunity to make sacrifices for the greater glory of Chinese airlines and logistics firms the Communist Party the Dragon Throne China.


subtu said...

Of course China would return any and all artworks to Taiwan. They'll be perfect forgeries, of course, and no one, not even curators, will be able to tell the difference.

Dezhong said...

IMHO whether or not China would seize any works of art from Taiwan's National Palace Museum is a non-issue.

There is simply no reason for them to do so: they claim the treasures are theirs, they also claim Taiwan is theirs. So in their own view, these treasures being stored in the NPM means that they are not really in a place where they should not be.

If they, on the other hand, would not return them, this would give too much credibility to any warnings of the DPP of getting closer to China and back up the opposition in any election that is to come.

I think by now the Chinese government understands pretty well that long-term strategies best suit its interests if it wants to come closer to its goal of unification.

Especially with that kind of KMT administration in office...

TicoExpat said...

Whaterver happened to teh investigation on whether works of art had dissappeared from the NPM or was that just a rumor?

Knowing how face is so importantant here, what can stop the museum in Beijing from making copies of the items sent, send back the copies, and the NPM gusy keeping quiet when they discover -of- the change? Remember how they kept quiet for ages about the damages to the jade cabagge and other precious items?

It is not the Beijing guys I am afraid of, but rather the ones here.

Anonymous said...

FringeScience said...


On the tourist issue, don't know if you notice the recent news about Japanese tourist group consisted of top jewelry sales people(or related to jewelry, I wasn't paying that much attention). Basically, they were shelling out their cash like drunken sailors during their visit in Taiwan(Also commented on how cheap Taiwanese goods are). I know this is an extreme case but if you actually put this news besides the pieces about Chinese tourists it is pretty clear that average Chinese tourist whose usual habit of spending conservatively won't do shit to the tourism business.