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Posted by Joel Martinsen on Thursday, July 7, 2005 at 10:01 AM
Dust to dust...
Domestic papers reported yesterday on a study that found that the terracotta soldiers in Xi'an may be in danger of succumbing to pollution. Sources were the BBC, the AP, and the South China Morning Post (China Daily merely ran the SMCP article in its entirety). According to Cao Junji of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Earth Environment, gradual erosion may reduce the vast army to a coal pit in a mere hundred years. Fungus could erode prominent features long before then.
The main reason, says Cao, is the museum's lack of technical expertise: "From a museum's point of view, it is doing a good job as long as the antiquities are not lost." This comes at the same time that it was decided to leave the excavation of the tombs of Qin Shi Huang and Wu Zetian to later generations who would have better technology.
Today the curators of the museum blast back. In an article in Xi'an's China Business View (which cites the bogeyman of "international media" without naming Cao as their source), a museum representative is quoted saying, "This position is unsupported by logic or data. What kind of scientist did this study?" The museum has international-level climate controls, they claim, and while fungus was present when the figures were unearthed, and there is slight erosion due to occasional damp ground, the army is remarkably well-preserved for having seen tens of millions of tourists.
And according to reports, the museum has already launched a 2 million RMB assessment of air pollution inside the hall housing the soldiers, to be completed in 2007. Perhaps at that time we will find out if there is a genuine problem, or if this is all a non-issue hyped up by the international media.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.