Goya Manet picasso Beijing?


                                                                             -- Pei-Yuan Han  M.D.

The year 2009 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Incident.

The developments of New China, its first and latest three decades, can be summed up as follows:

During the first thirty years, the country faced cold war blockages, ideological exploration, political struggles, and unprecedented natural and man-made disasters.

During the last thirty years, the country has opened up, achieved astounding success from economic pragmatic reform, and engaged in the pursuit of a harmonious society.

The June 4th student movement had its historical inevitability. The Cultural Revolution freed Chinese society from idolatry and feudal thinking, launched the pursuit of a number of free, democratic values, and the fight against profiteering and corruption.

Now, the fruit of the pursuit of freedom and democratic values materialized in the 08 Charter proposed by Chinese intellectuals in December 2008. It is interesting to note the Chinese government also announced in April this year a National Human Rights Action Plan,
to be implemented within two years. No doubt Chinese intellectuals and the government, after the June 4 Tiananmen Incident, have in their own way been making their best effort to modernize Chinese society, and expand freedom under the rule of law. The conscientious Chinese intellectuals and forward-looking government both deserve applause.

What is the best way to govern China? Whether to continue one-party policy or establish a multi-party system? At the present time, there are no signs of reconciliation from either side. There is no need to be pessimistic, however. We have to remember Taiwan has evolved from a one-party authoritarian model to a multi-party system, and many Eastern European countries have achieved democratic reform in the last two decades.

Due to China's unique history and huge population, the concept of freedom and liberty is elusive for the great majority people. Thus, why is there such an urgent need? Let us recall Mencius's famous quote:

“People are noble, State is secondary,
the Ruler is less significant.”

How to stimulate these national hereditary genes, respect for their order, awareness that the concept of democracy does not come from Greece, surely will promote its spread and growth.

After the French Revolution, liberty, equality, fraternity were pursued with zeal in the country. There were long periods of censorship. Women had to wait a century and a half before achieving equal voting rights. Hastily, eighty years of instability were created by the repeated alternation of the Republic and monarchy.

On the other hand, failure to eliminate the notorious corruption is a puzzle. China's foreign exchange reserves top the globe, along with Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore which rank in the top ten in the world. These wealthy societies build on the Confucian virtues of diligence and conservation; but it would be wrong to regard money as the single most important catalyst of social interaction. While bribery is a source of widespread corruption in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, why in the same Confucian society of Hong Kong and Singapore is there no such disease?

Goya to Beijing  in the past few years has attracted one hundred thousand visits annually. The result is gratifying, and yet we repeat that our ultimate goal is to bring this collection of artwork to Beijing as a memento one day.

In the last twenty years, my response when asked how I feel about carrying on such a project has depended on my humour. Naturally, the answer varies with time. Now, rather than speak of my sentiment, allow me to quote a poem from Spanish painter Ricardo Calero and photographer Gervasio Sanchez:


Be passionate about life.

Face up to desolation
with the force of reason.

Resist sordid interests,
succulent zeros chained to injustice.

Struggle against those who trample over memory,
against those who bank on forgetfulness
taking refuge in prudence and hope.

Store up proof against official history,
the passing of time is your best ally,
dignity exists because you resist.

New air to breathe........


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