Jacques Chirac: Sinophile

French President Jacques Chirac this past week revealed himself to be a true connoisseur of Chinese history, visiting several cities including Xian, which Chirac called: “The holy land of Chinese civilization.” According to the People’s Daily, the French President keeps a number of Chinese artifacts in his office including, “bronzes from the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 BC) and a Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) sculpture of Guanyin, the goddess of compassion and mercy.” So Jacques loves the Middle Kingdom. Of course $14 billion worth of airplanes and $1.5 billion worth of locomotives can buy a lot of love.

Cross-posted at Jottings from the Granite Studio

The Discussion: 12 Comments

Ah, that explains it — for the past couple of days the entire city’s been festooned with banners saying “Welcome to Beijing Summit” [sic] in Chinese, English, and French, along with comma-separated lists of feel-good nouns like “friendship, peace, cooperation, development.” I think they actually left out “harmony,” though I’ll have to check — I certainly hope they didn’t: forgetting about the 和谐社会 will probably get you a free trip to a Qinghai labor camp, because it’s all hexieup in this bitch.

October 30, 2006 @ 2:49 pm | Comment

If Chirac has some of those rare Chinese antiquities in his office, shouldn’t the People’s Daily be publishing foaming-at-the-mouth rants about how France humiliated China in the Opium War, and ask for those antiquities to be returned to China?

October 30, 2006 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

Fair point, Ivan. I guess it didn’t come up while they were haggling over situating the new Citroen factory.

October 30, 2006 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

Ivan — Nah; they sold him fakes from the Zhengzhou #3 Priceless Antiquities Factory.

October 30, 2006 @ 8:22 pm | Comment

Chiraq is the one whose words are all over the Terracotta Warriors exhibit. He said that the warriors were the “eighth wonder of the world”. I never got that. They are cool and all, but compared to the Great Wall, they just dont stack up. Although, for all I know, he may think the Great Wall is the Ninth Wonder.

October 30, 2006 @ 9:29 pm | Comment

What is China going to do after the elections next year, when Chirac isn’t around to give them head?

October 31, 2006 @ 12:25 am | Comment

Bronzes from the SHANG dynasty? (*cough* fake *cough)

October 31, 2006 @ 1:08 am | Comment

Well, there are bronzes from the Shang (the famous taotie (饕餮) patterned vessels) that have been excavated. As for the provenance of the French presidential collection, it’s anyone’s guess.

Regarding Chirac and the terracotta soldiers, the claim is that Chirac, visiting China as mayor of Paris in 1978, was the first foreigner to visit the site and it was then he gave the “Eighth Wonder” quote.

And then of course there’s Nixon’s remark after visiting the Great Wall in 1972. When asked by a reporter afterwards for his thoughts, Nixon replied, “It’s really a great wall.”

October 31, 2006 @ 3:23 am | Comment

Jeremiah, I’m aware of the Northern bronze complex. I’m just (somewhat) doubtful that Chirac’s are authentic, considering their extreme rarity.

So I wouldn’t be too surprised if, like Brendan said, some dealer from one of those tourist traps in Zhengzhou sold him junk passed off as priceless treasures of ancient Chinese civilization. 😉

October 31, 2006 @ 4:51 am | Comment

Okay I should be grading midterms, but this has my attention now: In a speech given in Hong Kong in 2004, Chirac thanked the Li Ka-shing foundation for a gift of Shang bronzes (From the Li Ka-shing personal collection?). The same ones? Who knows. He probably got ’em at Panjiayuan.

October 31, 2006 @ 6:36 am | Comment

A fake Shang bronze would be just right. Chirac is a fake too.

October 31, 2006 @ 11:29 am | Comment

According to the Li Ka-shing foundation website, the bronze collection was donated to the Guimet Museum. Why is it that the antique ends up in Chirac’s office?

October 31, 2006 @ 3:39 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.