Monday, April 4, 2011

China Controls its History's Narrative

In a recent New York Times article At China’s New Museum, History Toes Party Line it states the new museum showcases China’s history in support of it’s communist party censorship. 

The author, Ian Johnson, said:

“But one tradition has remained firmly in place: China will not confront its own history. The museum is less the product of extensive research, discovery or creativity than the most prominent symbol of the Communist Party’s efforts to control the narrative of history and suppress alternative points of view, even those that exist within the governing elite.”

The article also addresses how the museum has rarely been open throughout its’ own existence because of criticisms of being too radical in providing certain aspects of history.
The Museum acts as a place for the Chinese government to spread its propaganda of its history. Parts of Chinese history such as reform during the 1950s and ’60s is called “10 years of tortuous development” while the First Opium War of 1839 is referred to “The Road to Rejuvenation.” Great Leap Forward’s devastating famine, considered the worlds worst famine, is described as “the project of constructing socialism suffered severe complications.” And only one photograph and a few sentences describes The Cultural Revolution.  While Tiananmen Square demonstrations in the late ’80s is not mentioned at all. 

What the exhibit does feel is worthy to display is what they referred to as “precious objects” like Deng’s cowboy hat and Mr. Hu’s bullhorn. These are hardly as significant as China’s move to communism and famous poltical riots. As well as, China’s involvement in the World Wars.

“A public museum in China is seldom about the past,” Hung Chang-Tai, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said. “It is about the current image of the party and how the party wants itself to be seen.”

Many question whether the National Museum of China should be considered one of the world’s top museums.

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