Rundown Renovations At Daming Palace And Lessons In Chinese Doublespeak
Essay: He Jianchao, director of the Daming Palace Bureau, is leading efforts to restore the remains of the imperial city of the Tang Dynasty. His response to criticism about the quality of the restoration might be funny -- if it weren't for the h
BEIJING - Chinese officials are most creative in their humor. Perhaps unconsciously, perhaps not. Among the most recent gems was the reply of the Transport Ministry spokesman when journalists questioned him about a high-speed rail accident. "Believe it or not. Anyway, I myself chose to believe it…."
Recently, He Jianchao, director of the Daming Palace Bureau, became the latest comic hero of the Chinese web. But first, a description of this particular project: located in the northern suburb of Xi'an City, it is part of efforts to restore remains of the imperial city of the Tang Dynasty and the largest of the three Imperial complexes of Xi'an, which were destroyed at the end of the ninth century. Over the last 50 years, Chinese authorities have carried out a series of excavations and surveys on the site; and in October 2010, after years of reconstruction of some of the grandiose imperial halls, the Daming Palace Site was opened as an important tourist destination and "key cultural relic" that disseminates China's long history and brilliant culture.
So returning to He Jianchao, who was asked recently why the Daming Palace's newly reconstructed imperial halls are already cracking, and the Park was full of huge grassy tufts. The answer: "You don't understand because you are not engaged in the sector of cultural heritage…. As for the weeds, we are trying to create a sense of the vicissitudes of history… "
The problem is that the creation of this rundown looking new palace and the park of weeds cost Chinese taxpayers 3 billion RMB ($472 million).
A newspaper commentator might ask: "If we follow the same logic, why not set fire to the place, and then rent a few truck to roll back and forth a few times before smashing the palace? Not only will it add plenty to the historical vicissitude, but will certainly cost much less than 3 billion yuan!"
That a large-scale engineering project appears to have some design faults or maintenance issues is not uncommon, as long as one faces the problem and deals with it directly. Yet Chinese officials seem to take pity on a bored public as they rival one another in their inventiveness. The official who offloaded his difficulties "on the public's lower IQ limit" certainly deserves special mention.
A commentator might add that: "speaking the truth is a political issue, whereas telling lies is an intelligence issue. Political correctness in this country often proves to be costly whereas telling lies usually only brings jeers…"
And why is this the case? Don't ask me. Because you are not an expert dealing with our cultural heritage so you will know nothing. And nor do I.
Read the full original article in Chinese
photo - Zieak