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Tag: China

A story about the cultural revolution

The Bund, view from Pudong
The Bund, view from Pudong

My cousin in Shanghai was two years old when his mother, an architect, was taken away by the Red Guards, a student-led paramilitary movement, during the Cultural Revolution. All he remembers is his mother suddenly disappearing; his father, a doctor, had also gone missing days earlier. For what felt like an eternal darkness, he and his elder brother, who would have been five or six around that time, were left alone in their flat. He doesn’t remember how they survived those days. Maybe neighbours came by and brought food. Maybe an extended relative checked in on them. After what felt like forever, his mother returned, but she was a completely different woman.

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Are we all defaulting to stupid?

My lifespan on Twitter is eleven years and counting, but really, I’ve only started using it actively in the past 5-6 months? In that short time span, I’ve been fortunate (or unfortunate) to see both extremes of Twitter: the warm, supportive, welcoming community of writers–and the highly charged, reactionary keyboard warriors, and the anonymous army of trolls that follow.

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Criticising China

Who has the right to criticise China?

We need to unpack this question, because there is a power relationship deeply embedded in that question: that the West has developed political, economic and social systems that are superior, ergo they are in a position to instruct less developed societies still emerging from the constraints of feudalism, ergo they have earned the right to criticise China.

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Tiananmen and my father 天安门与我父亲

My first memories of Tiananmen were formed in London: I was six, it was June, 1989, we were in a small hotel room, and it was my first family vacation. My father was in London for work, we had tagged along. I climbed a tree for the first time at a family friend’s orchard; I was so shocked to discover apples and oranges grew on trees. Then: one morning, my father watching the news. His face, creased with worry. I crawled out of bed and peeked at the television:

People. There were so many people on the screen they filled it completely. Flags, banners, people shouting, people angry. My father, his face creased with worry.

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What is art?

Art to me is personal expression. Just like writing is the commitment of a thought onto paper; painting, sketching, or photography even is the physical realisation of an idea the artist has conceived in the mind. Art is beauty. It transforms and elevates the prosaic into something more desirable. In the hands of a talented artist, a commonplace, mundane scene is often rendered more vibrant, more enigmatic, more whole. But my friend Joshua recently expressed another opinion.

“Art is attention-seeking.”

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