Net users blast Merkel’s Shenyang welcome

By Kou Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016/6/17 0:53:01

Public question whether Manchu-style ceremony was quaint or servile

A Manchu-style welcoming ceremony to greet visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province has drawn controversy on Chinese social media, with some netizens accusing it of "raking up China's humiliating modern history and impairing the country's dignity."

During her visit to the northeastern industrial city of Shenyang on Tuesday, Merkel and her delegation were invited to visit the Shenyang Palace Museum, which offered an official welcoming ceremony characteristic of the Manchu, the ethnic group that started China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1911). During the ceremony, Merkel enjoyed a performance demonstrating royal rituals and was welcomed by the "Chinese emperor" and his "concubines."

Video of the ceremony soon went viral on Sina Weibo under the hashtag "Merkel's visit to Shenyang," which garnered more than 3.6 million page views and received mixed reactions from netizens. Some supported the ceremony for "showing traditional culture," while others dismissed it as a "shameless performance."

"The ceremony is shameless and servile - a fake emperor acted to welcome a condescending foreign leader. It reminds me of the Eight-Nation Alliance [including Germany] that besieged Beijing in 1900," a netizen commented under the hashtag on Thursday.

"It's absurd to relate this routine performance to the Eight-Nation Alliance. The public should not amplify side issues, but focus on the possible development opportunities that Merkel brought to the city," a Shanghai-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday.

The Shenyang Palace Museum could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor and cultural scholar at Peking University, told the Global Times that some netizens over-interpreted the ceremony.

"The Shenyang Palace Museum is a cultural name card for the city, thus holding such a grand welcoming ceremony for a foreign leader is quite understandable," Zhang added.

According to the palace museum's official website, similar ceremonial performances are held weekly from April to October and are open to all visitors.

Zhang suggested that the public adopt a placid attitude and not view the museum's folkloric performance as a sign that China cannot let go of its history. He noted that tourist activities in both developed and developing countries include performances in reconstructed historical settings.

Merkel visited Shenyang  primarily to see the city's Sino-German manufacturing park,  a key site in strategic cooperation on the "Made in China 2025" and "Industry 4.0" initiatives, China Central Television reported Tuesday.

Merkel visited China from Sunday to Tuesday on her ninth trip to the country since 2005.

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