Revolution in China? Not so fast

It may take a little bit longer to bring serious political reform to China, especially when the connected class is so comfortable. Barbara Pollock writes in Artnet:

During a recent visit to Beijing, the conversation at a local restaurant on a Saturday night turned briefly, only briefly, to politics. The video artist Wang Gongxin spoke excitedly about China’s so-called Jasmine Revolution, which has been much reported in the American press but barely felt in Beijing art circles. Apparently, he noted, 700 people had descended on a McDonald’s in the Wangjing neighborhood, in response to a call on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Even U.S. ambassador Jon Huntsman showed up at the McDonald’s, though he was wearing a jacket with an American flag patch, which drove Chinese bloggers crazy. They complained that he was grandstanding in anticipation of a run against Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. But then Lin Tianmiao, Wang’s wife and one of the most famous women artists in China, turned the conversation to her upcoming 2012 retrospective at Asia Society in New York, ignoring the nearby television blaring reports of the turmoil in Libya.

The whole scene was a little surprising. Some successful artists in China look forward to political reform, but many more of them are in bed with the ministry of culture. In that sense, the Chinese avant-garde is conservative. The current system has made them millionaires, and the last thing they want is change.

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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