March 30, 2009

Low blow

Filed under: China,culture — Kim @ 2:03 pm

The BBC’s highbrow talkshow In Our Time had a stab at The Boxer Rebellion last week. The show itself was a fairly uninspiring summary of events and context but the blurb on the website hinted of controversial connections to modern day China. It goes like this…

In the long summer of 1900, Peking, the capital of China, was under heavy siege…Peking’s besiegers were no foreign army – they were Chinese. They were a group of rebels called the Boxers and this was the last great act of the Boxer Rebellion. The Boxers came out of the north; they claimed their fists were stronger than fire and they were invincible to bullets. But whatever their claims, they were also desperate and starving and they blamed foreigners for their plight.

The Boxers lost their battles but they may have won their war for the Boxer Rebellion changed China and more than a hundred years later the spirit of the Boxer Rebellion lives on.

As I said, the show didn’t deliver any musings on the issues raised in this last paragraph and this was disappointing. I thought we were on for some analysis of how the Chinese government still attempts to whip up anti-foreign sentiment etc and wondered what support they would bring to this claim. Would they pull their punches? Would they give a blow by blow account of fenqing online antics? Alas, no…it all stayed lightweight right up to the final bell.

I also think it was a silly and misguided claim. I don’t think the spirit of the Boxer rebellion lives on in the farmers of the North-East (which is who the Boxers were) or in the CCP. I suspect that was just a juicy bit they put in at the end to get more people to listen…and I’m not happy. It’s not fair on China and not fair to me. Boo!