China's economic resurgence in the post-Mao era has not been without its casualties. Gone are the Chairman's portraits, the mass parades of flag-waving workers and the hoe-toting brigades on their collectivized farms. Apartment blocks, tightly mustered and regimentally aligned, perform the new choreography; flyovers vault the rice paddies, cable cars abseil the most sacred of mountains, hydrofoils ruffle the lakes beloved of poets. Familiar features in the historical landscape have either disappeared or been reconfigured as visitor attractions. Iconised for a market as much domestic as foreign, they make inviting targets for another demolitionist fraternity, that of international academe. When history itself is being so spectacularly rewritten, nothing is sacred. The Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the Long March, even the Giant Panda? Myths, declare the revisionist scholars, facile conflations, figments of foreign ignorance now appropriated to gratify Chinese chauvinism.
- From China by John Keay