Chinese President Calls Artists “Market Slaves”

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a symposium for professionals in the cultural sector. Via: Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping appealed to the country’s artists this week, warning that they should not become “slaves” to the market economy, reports Chinese media.

Xi attended a symposium in Beijing that brought together some of the country’s best known authors, actors, scriptwriters, and dancers on Wednesday.

The president emphasized that “socialist culture and art is, in essence, the culture and art of the people.” He explained that the true “connoisseurs and critics” of art are the common citizens of China and that they should be the main subjects of artistic works, urging artists to base their work on the real lives of regular people, says Chinese state media Xinhua.

Xi’s appeal comes after a spate of recent arrests of Chinese artists who have shown support for the ongoing, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Outspoken poet and performance artist Wang Zang was detained after he posted a photo that blatantly shows support for Hong Kong as well as Taiwanese independence. The artist now faces up to three years in prison. (see “Artists Arrested for Supporting Hong Kong Protests“)

In his speech, President Xi warned artists not to be swayed by the market economy: “Artists should not lose themselves in the tide of market economy nor go astray while answering the question of ‘whom to serve.'”

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