Chinese President Xi Jinping Has Told a State Art Museum to Uphold ‘a Politically Correct Direction’ Amid Pressures on China’s Cultural Sector

The president urged the museum to champion the core values of socialist culture under Xi Jinping Thought.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the welcome ceremony for the China-Central Asia summit in Xian, Shaanxi province on May 18, 2023. (Photo by FLORENCE LO / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FLORENCE LO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) should persist in upholding political correctness and practicing the core values of socialism in order to make greater contributions in the new era, said Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In a letter addressing the elders of the museum on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the state-owned institution, Xi recognized NAMOC’s achievements over the past decades and congratulated the museum’s successes in the areas of collection building, exhibitions, public education, and exchanges abroad against the backdrop of the prosperity of the country’s art development.

In addition, Xi also outlined in the letter, dated May 21 and published on state news agency Xinhua, his directives on the museum’s future in the letter, hoping that “NAMOC can be persistent in upholding a politically correct direction, putting people first, and practicing the core values of socialism.”

The museum should strive to become “a world class art institution” that can “raise the cultural standards of the nation and the people,” a go-to place for the public to appreciate top quality artworks, Xi wrote, “in order to make greater contributions to the prosperity of China’s art business, promote self-strengthening of [the nation’s] cultural confidence, and new glory of the socialist culture.”

The letter was published in a month that has seen a series of actions against the country’s cultural sector, such as the banishing of comedians and canceling of concerts by foreign music acts, as well as an attack on renowned Chinese contemporary artist Yue Minjun‘s iconic “laughing man” paintings for supposedly insulting the military.

Inaugurated in 1963 by Mao Zedong, the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, the Beijing-based NAMOC is one of the country’s biggest art museums. It houses a collection of more than 130,000 items, ranging from historic Chinese works, like those by Song dynasty poet and calligrapher Su Shi (1037–1101), and works by modern masters such as Qi Baishi, Wu Guanzhong, and Chu Teh-chun. Western art including works by Picasso and Dalí are also part of the museum’s vast collection.

The museum states on its website that in addition to fulfilling its mission as an institution facing the public and promoting artistic excellence, it emphasizes its role “under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought,” which waves the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics for the new era, and the “rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”


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