Can China have it both ways—innovation and cultural expression and control over society?
“It’s very ironic,” Mr. Yue, 36, said in an interview last week. “On the one hand, they want to boost cultural development. And on the other, they call off our exhibition.”
Ironic is one way to describe it. But viewed against the language of the party’s declaration on culture — the Oct. 25 report on the annual Central Committee plenum, held last month — there is not much inconsistency at all, some analysts say.
The Party needs a strategy:
Behind the bravado lies deep anxiety about what some in China have called the “third affliction,” its negative image in the world. With its economy now the envy of the world, China has symbolically thrown off the affliction of poverty. With its powerful and modernizing military, it is no longer afflicted by the threat of foreign aggression, as it was during its “century of shame.” Yet the country’s international prestige remains constrained by the cultural dominance of the West. Each time China is castigated by the international human rights community, or criticized by the Western media, the country’s leaders feel more and more that global public opinion is stacked against them. Western culture and values have gone global in a way that Chinese culture and values have not, and Beijing wants to do something about this.