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08.03.2012 18:59

The Poetry Of Chinese Politics

Chinese leaders have long put poetry to use by reinforcing political notions without the use of exacting statements
By Sheila Melvin
 
A

"I used to be interested in the politics of poetry," wrote the great American poet Robert Frost. "In my old age I am getting interested in the poetry of politics." Had Mr. Frost been born in China – where poetry and politics have long been happy bedfellows - he could have spent his lifetime indulging both interests.

The interconnectedness of politics and poetry in the People's Republic of China was driven home for me this past spring when President Hu Jintao addressed the annual China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing. The 2012 Dialogue, of course, was held at a somewhat tumultuous political moment, with the drama of blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng unfolding; the aftershocks of the dismissal of Bo Xilai and arrest of his wife, Gu Kailai, still rumbling; and the attention of the global media focused, laser-like, on Beijing. In the midst of all this, President Hu took the stage at the opening session of the dialogue and addressed such visiting dignitaries as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, concluding his speech with – poetry.

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