Chinese consulate wants US city to force mural removal

By Bai Tiantian Source:Global Times Published: 2012-9-12 1:05:06

Officials with China's consulate general in San Francisco recently demanded the US city of Corvallis, Oregon, remove a mural painted across the front of a private restaurant "to avoid our friendship from being tainted by so-called 'Tibet independence' and 'Taiwan independence,'" reported Reuters Tuesday.

The Chinese officials wrote and visited city officials to discuss the mural because it has caused "strong resentment from the local Chinese community," reported the local newspaper Corvallis Gazette-Times.

The city government rejected the request saying it "would not and could not" ask the restaurateur to remove the mural as the First Amendment of US Constitution guarantees citizens' right to freedom of speech.

The 3.04-meter-by-30.4-meter mural was commissioned by property owner David Lin, a Taiwanese-American, to go above his restaurant, said the newspaper.

Photographs of the painting depict extremely politicized scenes of Tibetan monks' self-immolation and Chinese characters calling for "Taiwan independence."

Deputy consul general Song Ru'an and vice consul Zhang Hao flew to Corvallis on September 4 to express their concerns over the mural to Corvallis mayor Julie Manning and city manager Jim Patterson.

The local newspaper reported that Song and Zhang viewed the mural as political propaganda as it advocates separatism of Chinese territorial sovereignty.

The consulate's letter also noted strong economic and cultural ties between China and the state of Oregon and called for an understanding of China's concerns.

"We sincerely hope that you can adopt effective measures to stop the activities advocating 'Tibet independence' and 'Taiwan independence' in Corvallis," it reads.

Xin Qiang, deputy director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times that consulate officials' efforts should be appreciated.

"It will be difficult to get the mural removed as many Western media outlets aggrandize the Dalai Lama and favor Taiwan and tend to portray the Chinese mainland as the 'devil,'" said Xin, suggesting it's difficult for many Westerners to get a clear and accurate understanding of the history of China and its regions.

The consulate could not be reached for comment as of press time Tuesday.

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