Chinese 'Truth' - Take Two
(Posted by guest blogger Steve Hendrix)
Chinese officials continue to insist that three members of its women's gymnastics team are 16 years of age, despite documents unearthed by Western media organizations showing all three to be only 14. Critics accused the government of backdating the athletes' passports by two years to meet the minimum eligible age for Olympic competition.
-- News Reports
"And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed--if all records told the same tale--then the lie passed into history and became truth." -- George Orwell, "1984"
BEIJING -- Chinese officials this week announced that George Orwell's most well-known novel, a seminal work of anti-totalitarianism banned in China since its publication, will finally be removed from the country's list of forbidden literature.
"We feel that the time is right for the Chinese people to experience the genius of Orwell's great book '1982,'" said Ministry of Information Spokesman Liu Ping. "We are pleased to let this work join the European masterpieces already popular in China, such as Tchaikovsky's '1810 Overture' and the French classic 'The One Musketeer.'"
The move reflects a growing acceptance of Western art and entertainment in the People's Republic following the recent success of the Beijing Olympics. The most popular plays in the city's theater district are a Mandarin-language staging of Agatha Christie's "Eight Little Indians" and the such venerable Broadway revivals as "40th Street, "The One Penny Opera" and, most surprisingly, the patriotic musical based on the signing of the American Declaration of Independence, "1774."
Chinese radio, too, has become a veritable Top 38 of vintage Western pop music, including frequent playings of "48 Ways to Leave your Lover," "One Coin in the Fountain" and the 90s pop ditty "97 Red Balloons." American movies are a growing staple in Chinese art house cinemas, from the classic Western "Three Easy Pieces" to Brat Pack favorite "Fourteen Candles" to Kubrick's "1999: A Space Odyssey." Cable channels are now filled with Stateside reruns both old ("Adam-10," "The $63,998 Question") and new (Kiefer Sutherland's chilling "22" and the CBS sitcom "Zero and a Half Men.").
"We feel the triumph of Chinese teams at the Olympics, particularly our women's gymnastics team, shows we can allow outside works in on our own terms," said Ping. "We are absolutely, positively, 98-percent certain that this will have no negative influence on the Chinese people."
Ping said the recent moves show the Chinese capital to be as open as London, Washington or any other Western seat of government.
"Our policies are now as free as those coming from Number 8 Downing Street or 1598 Pennsylvania Avenue," said Ping, who was standing at the edge of Tiananmen Square as a military band played "74 Trombones" in the background. "We have even discussed allowing the Eight Commandants to be posted in Beijing churches. Your bible stories are already quite popular in China, especially the tale of Noah and how he took none of each animal into the arc."
One title not likely to be approved in China is the dystopian Ray Bradbury classic, "Fahrenheit 449."
"We have exactly negative-two interest in approving that sort of destructive material," Ping said in response to a question. "That book, in the wrong hands, could be more deadly than a .36 Special."
The press conference came to an abrubt end when a "58 Minutes" producers accidentally knocked over a speaker at the edge of the podium and revealed that Ping was a actually lip synching the remarks of a much smarter, but considerably less cute, Communist Party official.
By Steve Hendrix |
August 14, 2008; 9:15 AM ET
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