The case of the looted statuesWritten by Julen Madariaga on March 13th, 2009
I am going to spice up my blog by providing some first hand opinion on my weekly tour of the Sinosphere. These are mostly comments that I’ve done previously in other forums and I collect here. I will try to do this every week, subject to the rate at which my brain can churn out opinions.
THE TAMADE STATUES - We have heard more than enough of those ugly statues that are clearly not worth the noise, so I will be brief. Here’s what the forums say. On the West side: it’s a clever PR coup by the CPC; on the East side: indignation, history, insults and record participation. In the middle, the French, who are so used to being bashed by both Americans and Chinese for any possible reason that they don’t seem to mind anymore.
I can understand the indignation of the Chinese public, these statues have come to symbolize the humiliation of the colonial times. But I am sure that, regardless of the legal basis, the Chinese government could use some of its famous patience, diplomacy and political leverage to get those lumps of bronze safely back home were they belong. And, in the long term, to reach a general agreement for the repatriation of art works.
The trouble is: that would’t solve the problem. Because this is not about art, it is about national honour and about a debt with the past. And the past, however unjust it may have been, is not ours to change anymore. So some excited Chinese just need to get over these things. Carrying your wounded country in your heart is romantic and tempting, but in the long term it only leads to blindness, conflict, and the neglecting of important issues.