The PRC Takes on Corvallis, Oregon and David Lin: Let 100 Murals Bloom

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Wednesday September 12, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

A standard complaint of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is that others should avoid getting involved in China's internal affairs. This makes it all the more surprising when the Chinese consulate in San Francisco not only sent a strongly worded letter to the Mayor of Corvallis but also sent two of its diplomats up from San Francisco to the small town in western Oregon. Their complaint: remove the mural from David Lin's building that he owned there.

Corvallis is a small town, not too far south of Portland Oregon. Its population is near 55,000; it also is the location of Oregon State University. So what could be so offensive in this small town, that China would feel obligated to send two diplomats to correct the situation? Why would it want to meddle in the internal affairs of Corvallis?

It seems that David Lin asked Chao Tsung-song to paint a mural on the wall of his building. The mural, 3m by 30m depicts images that support freedom, democracy and independence for Taiwan and Tibet. Heaven forbid! How could a man in Corvallis dare to do something that was his right to do on his own property? It was not obscene; there was nothing to offend public decency, so what is China's beef?

Mayor Manning responded by saying that the first amendment of the USA allows freedom of artistic expression. Ahh, good old China, they certainly made everyone aware of how they even want to control artistic expression in places like Corvallis! That tells you something doesn't it.