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Unregistered
11-10-07, 23:37
Commentary: Chinese-Uighur culture clash in Sweden
ESKILSTUNA, Oct. 1
CHEN SHIZHONG

Guest Commentary
China's Xinjiang Song and Dance Company gave two wonderful performances in Eskilstuna city in Sweden on Sept. 8th and 9th. At first glance, this kind of cultural performance would appear completely apolitical. However, at the same time a full-page editorial appeared in the city's biggest newspaper criticizing the Eskilstuna Cultural Bureau for allowing the event. The article accused city bureaucrats of fawning on the autocratic Chinese authorities. Obviously, the editorial viewed the performance as political.

The newspaper pointed out that the art troupe came from Xinjiang Province in northwest China, home to the Uighur minority group, which is oppressed by the Chinese authorities. Uighur organizations outside China had warned that Beijing would use such performances as a propaganda tool, to create a happy image of the Xinjiang people under the rule of the Chinese government.

Cultural exchanges are a normal means of international interaction. However, the Chinese authorities use them as an opportunity to disseminate propaganda. As always, staff from the Chinese Embassy handed out all kinds of brochures, books and CDs to the audiences, to give the impression that the people of Xinjiang are living a happy life without disputes or conflicts.

At the same time, when a group of Uighurs living in Sweden tried to hand out their own materials, they were stopped by the embassy staff. Even the local police came to block their activities. These Uighurs were not even allowed to talk to the members of the performing team.

What did the city government do regarding this protest? Did it try to correct the behavior of the staff from the Chinese Embassy? Did it apologize to the Uighur activists? Or maybe it expressed apologies to the embassy staff, who were offended by the freedom of speech in Sweden?

China is an important country to Sweden. It is beneficial for the two countries to exchange opinions and carry out dialogue with each other. Commercial and cultural cooperation is conducive to future political cooperation. However, Swedish officials need to be more aware of what is going on behind the scenes when they participate in these exchange programs.

China, which will host the Olympic Games next year, is making great effort to disseminate a positive picture of its "open" society. Exporting culture to other countries is part of China's propaganda strategy. Therefore, when China brings entertainment to Sweden, the Swedish government should not simply bend to the requests of the Chinese authorities. The Swedish organizers have the moral responsibility to respect diverse opinions rather than standing with the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, the city government of Eskilstuna chose to let the Chinese authorities express their views freely, while blocking the supporters of democracy at the door. This is a bad precedent for future cultural exchange between China and Sweden.

--

(Professor Chen Shizhong is a retired professor from Harbin University in northeast China. He has received honors for his teaching, research and social activities. He is now a freelance writer focusing on China affairs. This article is edited and translated from the Chinese by UPI Asia Online; the original can be found at www.ncn.org. ┬ęCopyright Chen Shizhong.)


UPI Asia Online

Unregistered
13-10-07, 08:21
Commentary: Chinese-Uighur culture clash in Sweden
ESKILSTUNA, Oct. 1
CHEN SHIZHONG

Guest Commentary
China's Xinjiang Song and Dance Company gave two wonderful performances in Eskilstuna city in Sweden on Sept. 8th and 9th. At first glance, this kind of cultural performance would appear completely apolitical. However, at the same time a full-page editorial appeared in the city's biggest newspaper criticizing the Eskilstuna Cultural Bureau for allowing the event. The article accused city bureaucrats of fawning on the autocratic Chinese authorities. Obviously, the editorial viewed the performance as political.

The newspaper pointed out that the art troupe came from Xinjiang Province in northwest China, home to the Uighur minority group, which is oppressed by the Chinese authorities. Uighur organizations outside China had warned that Beijing would use such performances as a propaganda tool, to create a happy image of the Xinjiang people under the rule of the Chinese government.

Cultural exchanges are a normal means of international interaction. However, the Chinese authorities use them as an opportunity to disseminate propaganda. As always, staff from the Chinese Embassy handed out all kinds of brochures, books and CDs to the audiences, to give the impression that the people of Xinjiang are living a happy life without disputes or conflicts.

At the same time, when a group of Uighurs living in Sweden tried to hand out their own materials, they were stopped by the embassy staff. Even the local police came to block their activities. These Uighurs were not even allowed to talk to the members of the performing team.

What did the city government do regarding this protest? Did it try to correct the behavior of the staff from the Chinese Embassy? Did it apologize to the Uighur activists? Or maybe it expressed apologies to the embassy staff, who were offended by the freedom of speech in Sweden?

China is an important country to Sweden. It is beneficial for the two countries to exchange opinions and carry out dialogue with each other. Commercial and cultural cooperation is conducive to future political cooperation. However, Swedish officials need to be more aware of what is going on behind the scenes when they participate in these exchange programs.

China, which will host the Olympic Games next year, is making great effort to disseminate a positive picture of its "open" society. Exporting culture to other countries is part of China's propaganda strategy. Therefore, when China brings entertainment to Sweden, the Swedish government should not simply bend to the requests of the Chinese authorities. The Swedish organizers have the moral responsibility to respect diverse opinions rather than standing with the Chinese government.

Unfortunately, the city government of Eskilstuna chose to let the Chinese authorities express their views freely, while blocking the supporters of democracy at the door. This is a bad precedent for future cultural exchange between China and Sweden.

--

(Professor Chen Shizhong is a retired professor from Harbin University in northeast China. He has received honors for his teaching, research and social activities. He is now a freelance writer focusing on China affairs. This article is edited and translated from the Chinese by UPI Asia Online; the original can be found at www.ncn.org. ┬ęCopyright Chen Shizhong.)


UPI Asia Online



thanks to Mr Professor Chen Shizhong for his article and open heart for justice and freedom... i hope there are more chinese people like him ...
but the painful fact that no uyghurs wrote anything about this event shows just how much education we actually got and how ignorant we are when we dont invest in organized education...
for our future leaders