UK Sends Prized Art to China

Chinese flags wave through a city.

Image: Shutterstock

The United Kingdom and Chancellor George Osborne have pledged 7 million pounds as part of a drive to showcase British culture in China. Prized artworks from Shakespeare to David Hockney will travel to the country to promote cultural ties.

An additional 3 million pounds will be spent bolstering Chinese tourism in the UK, and 750,000 pounds will take the British Museum’s “History of the World in 100 Objects” to China also. Chancellor Osborne is optimistic that the exchange of cultural experiences will do great things for the nations’ relationship. One of the best ways people’s cultures express themselves is through their theatre and their paintings and their art,” he said. “And what better way to explain to many, many Chinese people about Britain than letting them hear a Shakespeare play in Mandarin or see a David Hockney picture…there in China?”

The chancellor announced the project during a recent visit to China, the purpose of which was to boost bilateral trade and and ring in a “golden decade of UK-China relations.” China is soon expected to become the fastest-growing tourism trend in the UK, the number of visits skyrocketing over the past five years.

Mr. Osborne did express concern over censorship and the function of art. When questioned about whether the UK should be opening a dialogue on art with China, a country with generally poor human rights, Mr. Osborne said that he believes the best thing to do is “try and explain your values around political freedom and artistic freedom…to showcase some of the great works of art that helped us form this culture.”

He added that the biggest change he has seen in reducing poverty in the world has been in China.

Some of the funding will go to support the creation of a new English-Mandarin database of pre-1900 history at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 500,000 pounds in London will go to a new Love China Festival at Southbank Centre.

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