The Chinese Embassy in Canada has denounced a Chinese New Year celebration show that depicts Chinese police killing a Falun Gong practitioner.
The Chinese New Year Spectacular, billed as a celebration showcase of top Chinese traditional music and dance, took to the stage at Ottawa's National Arts Centre on Jan. 12 as part of a worldwide 30-city tour that includes Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Paris and New York. This is the show's third year in some of those cities.
Included in the show's first performance in Ottawa was a dance depicting police attacking and killing a person performing movements of Falun Gong, a group that practises special exercises and meditation, and which is banned by the Chinese government.
Following the show the Chinese Embassy issued a formal statement to an Ottawa media outlet denouncing the show, hosted by the U.S.-based New Tang Dynasty Television network.
A spokesman for the embassy said Wednesday he could not immediately provide a copy of the statement, but could offer the embassy's position.
"Its aim for hosting the spectacular evening show is to smear [the] Chinese image and sabotage [the] Canada-China relationship," he told CBC.ca. "In essence, it's just propaganda."
Show received congratulations from prime minister
The statement specified that the embassy opposes officials in other countries sending congratulatory messages to the show organizers, as was done by Ottawa's mayor, Governor General Micha?lle Jean and Prime Minister Stephen Harper for the Ottawa show brochure.
"We oppose any actions that will be harmful to our relationship [with Canada]," the embassy spokesman said.
Ottawa show organizer Jean Zhi denied accusations that the show was politically motivated.
"We are not political," she told CBC-TV. "We don't have any political agenda. We don't want anything from China."
But the embassy spokesman said he has heard from many Ottawa residents complaining that the show was not what they expected from the advertising.
Andy Murray wrote a letter to the National Arts Centre outlining such complaints after watching the show.
"In the end, I felt deceived," Murray told CBC-TV. "We went there looking for traditional Chinese culture and a celebration of New Year and it wasn't either of those things, really."
NAC not in 'censorship business': spokeswoman
Centre spokeswoman Jayne Watson said Murray's complaint was one of very few the centre has received.
She said the centre is willing to compensate audience members with tickets to another show if they feel the Chinese New Year gala was not what they were led to expect.
She said the centre didn't know the show was connected to Falun Gong, but that wouldn't necessarily have made a difference.
"We present all kinds of art and performances here ourselves, … we produce it, we present it," she said. "And I think for an arts organization, you can't be in the censorship business."
China has spoken out yearly against the show and its organizer since it launched in 2004.
On Jan. 4, 2004, shortly before the show's inaugural performance, New Tang Dynasty issued a statement stating that "officials from the Chinese Consulates have been making the rounds to verbally attack NTDTV and the Gala."
The statement said the attacks are a waste of time and "the issue of Falun Gong will help to unite the Chinese people all over the world with a bond of peace and freedom, creating a better, more harmonious and tolerant future together."
(CBC News, January 17, 2007)
Original text from: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2007/01/17/chinese.html