A very sad post from the Economist on the problem of the zodiac heads. Basically, a wealthy Frenchman has agreed to donate two of the bronze heads stolen from the Summer Palace in 1860 back to ‘China’. What I find most depressing is the use of the Summer Palace as a symbol of foreign oppression of the Chinese. Yes, the torching of the Summer Palace was a crime against China, History, and Art, but the place itself is one of the greatest symbols of cultural borrowing and fusion you could imagine. Built by Qing emperors (who were not Han), designed by Jesuits (who by definition identified with no nation), it is also the perfect place to be all Chinese and write poems about the ruins of the old capital, like Chinese poets used to write about Loyang. The piece points out that the site is being used to teach Chinese schoolchildren to hate the Other, which is really very depressing.
P.S. Don’t read the comments.