China's funds for Edinburgh raise 'moral questions'

 

Human-rights organisations have criticised the Edinburgh International Festival for using cash support from the Chinese government to help bankroll the event.

The National Ballet of China and the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe are two of the main attractions at this year's festival, which has an Asian theme.

The two national companies are believed to have received support worth at least £100,000 from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, which is using the festival to promote the country's image abroad.

Campaigners warned that the festival organisers risked endorsing China's crackdown on cultural figures, including the dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who was recently subjected to 81 days in prison. Beijing has banned Weiwei, who is said to have feared for his life, from speaking to the media since his release from the detention centre.

John Watson, a director of Amnesty International Scotland, said: "Weiwei's treatment typifies the way the government tackles anyone – journalists, activists, academics, lawyers as well as artists – who step out of line.

"It's ironic in the extreme that they should choose such a riotous celebration of free speech like the Edinburgh Festival to promote their image abroad. China's human-rights record is nothing short of appalling."

Stephanie Brigden, director of the Free Tibet campaign group, said the Chinese support raised "serious moral questions".

She said: "I doubt the festival would consider taking funds from the likes of Libya, Iran or Zimbabwe if they had the means to contribute. By putting its name to the festival, the unelected Chinese government has been given a veil of legitimacy – which is wholly undeserved."

A spokeswoman for the festival said that it received no direct funding from the Chinese government. She said: "In engaging with Chinese performing companies it is necessary that the Chinese Ministry of Culture be involved. The companies are supported by their Government for travel and freight costs, to help them get to Edinburgh.

"It is core to the festival to build bridges which allow all its artists to speak both onstage and through the media, as the National Ballet ofChina's artists have been doing very eloquently."

Discussions about freedom of expression in China will be included in a series of debates being held during the festival, which includes the National Ballet of China's production of The Peony Pavilion and the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe's The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan. The composer Philip Glass, a vocal supporter of Tibetan independence, who performed at the festival, said he was relaxed about the Chinese financial involvement.

He said: "I think taking exception to these things misses the point – the flow of ideas and culture is direct: bureaucracies are fabrications, they come and go."

Festival facts

Now in its 65th year, the Edinburgh International Festival promises a three-week programme of music, theatre, opera and dance. It differs from the Fringe, dominated by comedy, because all the companies are chosen andinvited by the director, Jonathan Mills, who this year said he aimed to build an "exquisite bridge" between the cultures of Asia and Europe. Highlights include The Peony Pavilion, based on a love story by the Chinese writer Tang Hsien-tsu; The Tempest, re-imagined by Mokwha Repertory Company from Seoul; and a one-man King Lear at the Lyceum Theatre.

Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial