Inevitable Historical Trend
This poster features a color photograph of a gravity-defying sculpture portraying five Palestinian militants launching into an attack. Though visually fascinating, this heroic-revolutionary-style tableau is wildly inaccurate in terms of the uniforms, weapons, and tactics actually used by Palestinians.
This poster was not thrown together at the last minute. A sculpture was cast, a photograph was taken of the sculpture, and a poster was produced using the photograph. This multi-step process is a clue that the Chinese government’s commitment to Palestinian solidarity was deliberate and thorough.
The captions, which are printed in French, English, and Chinese read:
Although the particulars about the genesis of this poster are unknown, one fact is clear: Chinese artists, like those of almost every other country of the world, have worked the elements of solidarity with Palestine into their own artistic and political vocabularies. This is no small matter; it is an honor to be embraced heroically into the cultural and artistic fabric of another people.
Yet perhaps the most important feature of this poster is that it lends credibility to the theory that one of the poster’s most important roles is to convey social and political approval of an idea. By having posters such as this one printed, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands of copies, and distributed to schools, offices, factories, hospitals, etc., the topic of China’s support for the Palestinian liberation movement is made acceptable for routine public discussion.
Though allied with Palestine, China is not an enemy of Israel; the relationship is more complex. China practiced an “open door” policy during World War II that provided desperately needed safe haven for many Jewish refugees from Shanghai, and elsewhere in Asia. However it abstained from the UN vote on the creation of the state of Israel, and the two countries did not establish diplomatic relations until 1992. Though currently there are significant trade and commercial agreements between the two countries and there is even an Israel-China Friendship Society based in Tel Aviv, China regularly condemns the policies of the Israeli government towards the Palestinians.
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Questions for A New
1) China has significant military and research ties with Israel. It also has a long-held, unchanging position of support for the Palestine Liberation Organization. How many other countries have a similarly contradictory set of relationships with the two peoples?
2) Has China’s support of Palestinian national aims ever complicated its economic ties with the U.S.? If yes, when? If no, why not?
3) Why did China not recognize Israel in 1948? What prompted it to recognize Israel in 1992?
Please send us your questions and comments (English only please!)
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