Brainwash claims over Oz Red Guards concert

Top News | Sophie Hui 30 Oct 2018

Many Australians, including those of Chinese descent, are demanding the cancellation of a Chinese opera to be held in the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, saying it glorifies the Red Guards.

Performing in Australia for the first time, Hubei Symphony Orchestra, Hubei Provincial Opera and Dance Drama Theatre will present a modern production of the classic Red Guards on Honghu Lake.

The show - renamed Lake Honghu In Concert - evokes no mention of its Red Guards background. It will be performed in Putonghua.

Promotions of the show describe it as a story about freedom and hope. But Australian Values Alliance, a group formed by Australians with Chinese heritage in 2016, say the name of the opera has been "purposely changed" to describe the theme as "Fighting for freedom and for hope" and "liberation of all suffering people."

It urged the opera house management to stop selling tickets and cancel the show.

The alliance, in a letter to the New South Wales Minister for the Arts Don Harwin, said: "The opera represents a silent invasion by the Chinese Communist Party under its united front policy with the intention to gain influence in Australia."

It said the opera is "portrayed as an art form to cover up the theme of promoting violence and glorifying the Red Army and it conveys a fake image of the CCP now." The alliance said the CCP is using soft power to confuse Australian society about its "united front" tactics of "silent invasion, especially of the arts community."

The alliance started an online petition for its cancellation. As of last night, it had more than 2,500 signatures.

According to the opera house's website, the show was first played in Hubei, Wuhan, in October 1956 by the Hubei Experimental Theater Society.

It said the show's music has national significance and has influenced a whole generation as it was based on a true story of the 1930 conflict in the Honghu Base Area.

Ho Hon-kuen, a senior educator in Hong Kong and chairman of Education Convergence, described the petition as "unnecessary."

As Australia is a place that promotes freedom of speech and of performance and publication, "forbidding a performance is uncivilized." He said unless the show had inappropriate content, such as pornography, it should be allowed to play.

"The performance should be played according to the law, not whether it conforms to an ideology or not," Ho said.

He also didn't think the opera would brainwash people. "People will have their own views after watching the show. How can the show brainwash people?"

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