Sign of the Times

Posted by Simon Elegant
Time (Asia) Inc.
April 21, 2008 10:40

taxi.jpg

Couldn't resist posting this, a sign in the back of a taxi in Qingdao city in the coastal province of Shandong. It refers of course to the infamous sign that supposedly was posted during the 20s and 30s in a park in one of the foreign-administered areas of Shanghai that read: "No dogs or Chinese allowed" (????????). As I recall there has never been any proof that the sign actually existed, though the racist sentiment behind it certainly did. The one reference to it I remember was in a Bruce Lee movie (Fists of Fury?) in which Bruce does a flying kick that demolishes the sign.

Anyway, all this is right up there with the U.S. Congress renaming French Fries "Freedom Fries." It's also not entirely clear to me why the French got singled out. There was the much denied rumor that Carrefour investors somehow funded the Dalai Lama. And of course the chaotic progress of the torch through Paris and the attack on Jin Jing, the "wheelchair angel "paralympic athlete who protected the torch. (and of course is now under attack as a traitor" on the internet for suggesting that a boycott of Carrefour might actually do more damage to Chinese than the French). But all in all London was just as messy, or appeared to be. Jin Jing, incidentally, has now been invited by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to revisit France for a holiday, which she may well need. The President has also sent two former prime ministers as special envoys to China, apparently trying to patch things up. Their job will be made considerably harder by the fact that the Paris city council voted Monday to make the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen of the city. (And at the same time, as one commenter has pointed out to me, also awarding the same status to imprisoned dissident Hu Jia: do you think maybe someone on the Paris City Council is planning to run for office down the line?)