Down in Corvallis, the Chinese government is asking the city to silence one of it's residents.
The best part, is that Corvallis is standing behind it's resident.
Citing “strong resentment from the local Chinese community,” the Chinese government has asked the city of Corvallis to force a Taiwanese-American businessman to remove a mural advocating independence for Taiwan and Tibet from his downtown building.
But city leaders say the mural violates no laws and its political message is protected under the U.S. Constitution.
Taiwanese artist Chao Tsung-song painted the 10-foot-by-100-foot mural last month on the side of the old Corvallis MicroTechnology building at Southwest Fourth Street and Jefferson Avenue. The work was commissioned by property owner David Lin, who is renovating the space for a restaurant and has rechristened the building Tibet House.
In vivid colors, the painting depicts riot police beating Tibetan demonstrators, Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule and images of Taiwan as a bulwark of freedom.
In a letter dated Aug. 8, the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco formally complained to Corvallis Mayor Julie Manning about the mural’s content and asked for her help in having it removed.
“There is only one China in the world,” the letter reads in part, “and both Tibet and Taiwan are parts of China.”
China invaded Tibet in 1950 and has repeatedly stated its claim to the island of Taiwan. Beijing considers both countries breakaway provinces.
The letter goes on to note the strong economic and cultural ties between China and Oregon and suggests that Corvallis would benefit from cooperating with the consulate’s request.
“To avoid our precious friendship from being tainted by so-called ‘Tibet independence’ and ‘Taiwan independence,’ we sincerely hope you can understand our concerns and adopt effective measures to stop the activities advocating ‘Tibet independence’ and ‘Taiwan independence’ in Corvallis,” the letter states.
In a response dated Aug. 20, Manning expressed regret that the mural had caused concern but noted that local government has no authority to regulate art.
“As you are aware,” Manning’s letter reads, ‘the First Amendment of the United States’ Constitution guarantees freedom of speech in this country, and this includes freedom of artistic expression.”
I can't say enough about what the city of Corvallis is doing. Standing behind your residents, and our constitution, even in the face of threats from one of the world's biggest governments, is exactly what we should expect here in America.
David Lin joined me today on the Northwest Show to talk about the controversy that his mural has caused.