The pitfalls of French cultural diplomacy in China | EUROtoday

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Sun Yeli, Minister of Culture and Tourism of China, and Rachida Dati, Minister of Culture, at the kickoff of the Franco-Chinese Year of Cultural Tourism and the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between France and China, at the Palace of Versailles, January 31, 2024.

Wednesday January 31, 8 p.m. Emmanuel Macron's face seems on the large display screen of the Royal Opera of Versailles, the place 600 company await the kick-off of the 60e anniversary of Franco-Chinese diplomatic relations and the Franco-Chinese Year of Cultural Tourism. The openness of our two countries towards each other is essential”proclaims the French president. “Openness is the path to prosperity”provides, emotionless, his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, in a speech additionally filmed.

The staging of Franco-Chinese friendship, which culminated in a live performance given by the National Orchestra of China and the Royal Opera of the Palace of Versailles, does with out toasts and hugs. It comes all the way down to a credo – the central role of culture in our bilateral relationship »according to the Minister of Culture, Rachida Dati – and to an objective which her Chinese counterpart, Sun Yeli, makes no secret of: the revival of tourism, which is slow to return to pre-Covid-19 levels.

But, objects a French diplomat wishing to remain anonymous, “if the theme chosen to celebrate the 60th anniversary is cultural tourism, it’s because we had nothing else to eat”. In order to draw foreigners, together with the French, the Chinese authorities have introduced a visa exemption for stays of lower than fifteen days.

Read additionally | Article reserved for our subscribers Versailles on the Forbidden City of Beijing, a diplomatic exhibition

The reciprocal shouldn’t be deliberate on the French facet. But, to revive the “desire for France” among the many Chinese, almost 200 cultural occasions will mark the yr 2024, together with an exhibition devoted to the Palace of Versailles on the Forbidden City in Beijing, and excursions of the Comédie-Française, the Bordeaux Opera Ballet and of tricolor musicals in a number of Chinese cities. The Mobilier nationwide exports two exhibitions, “Napoleon’s Disappeared Palaces”, in March, to Beijing then to Shanghai, adopted by “Le Chic! French decorative arts and furniture”, in partnership with the personal audiovisual group Hantang. “We took a while to use the word “interest”, which the Chinese use with out complexessummarizes Eva Nguyen Binh, president of the French Institute. Today, we settle for it: it’s in our curiosity to take care of mutual information. »

Maintaining authoritarian energy

An curiosity weighted by ethico-political issues. Xi Jinping's regime has toughened because the pandemic. Beijing launched a draconian nationwide safety regulation in Hong Kong in 2020 and intensified its navy strain on Taiwan, which it vowed to carry again into its fold. And the repression of the Uighurs, a Turkish-speaking minority residing within the west of the nation, shouldn’t be weakening. Artificial intelligence now makes it potential to consistently monitor every citizen. As for censorship, it’s rife in any respect ranges. “It’s suffocating. You don’t have any fresh air, it’s hard to breathe”defined to the British day by day The Independent, in July 2023, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who has not returned to China for 9 years.

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