Artists Boycott French Exhibit As Government Tries to Rein in Nationalist Anger

Amid calls to boycott Carrefour and other French businesses following pro-Tibet protests in Paris that disrupted the Olympic torch relay, the government may be now making an effort to rein in the nationalist sentiment which has been running rampant on the Internet. According to Reuters:

But in a sign that the Chinese government may want to cool public anger over Tibet and the Olympics protests, the official Xinhua agency called for “patriotic zeal to concentrate on development.”

The Xinhua commentary that appeared late on Thursday night said the calls to boycott French goods were an “unadorned expression of patriotic zeal and a sincere demonstration of public opinion.”

But it balanced the praise with a warning not to challenge the government’s policies of opening to foreign investment and markets.

The anti-French sentiment seems to be spreading, as two of China’s best known contemporary artists have withdrawn from an exhibit in Paris in protest. Also from Reuters:

Wang Guangyi and Lu Hao, two of the biggest names in China’s roaring contemporary art scene, said they would not take part in a June exhibition at a Paris gallery because of French attitudes toward the Olympics.

The support of some in France to boycott the August Games “made me feel very annoyed, so we thought that at this particular time attending the exhibition would be unhappy and decided not to go”, the Beijing News quoted Wang as saying.

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