Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
By Emma Graham-Harrison
“Long live Chairman Mao Zedong” is scrawled on a thin strip of wood stuck into the ground where a peasant in tattered clothes is urging on a weary-looking ox. Near “Ploughing with Mao” are beautifully composed shots of young, fanatical Red Guards smashing antiques, and another group roughly tormenting a “counter-revolutionary” old man.
Even though I know they are coming, it is still a shock to move on and see pictures of flawless models lounging on a bench in Beijing, rich young kids drinking in a bar and a group of smiling old women in a technicolour riot of outfits holding pictures of their younger, sterner, revolutionary selves.
The pictures lining the walls of the “China: Portrait of a Country” exhibition are a sharp visual reminder of the changes that have taken place in just one generation, almost unimaginable to those who didn’t live through them, even those like me who have tried to study China and made their home here for years.
In little over three decades, it has gone from an isolated, poor, ideologically rigid backwater to an international powerhouse with the world’s fourth-largest economy.