Chinese President Xi Jinping (习近平), who last month earned the affectionate title “Big Daddy Xi” (习大大), spoke out last week on the subject of the arts, essentially encouraging innovation and originality in the arts in China while stressing that such creation must serve the country and the socialist cause.
The tension in Xi Jinping’s speech between creation and coercion is of course an old one, going back to Mao Zedong’s 1943 talks at the Yan’an Conference on Literature and the Arts, in which he said “mass culture,” or qunzhong wenhua (群众文化), should serve the interests of politics and be focused on peasant lives.
In his speech, Xi Jinping similarly emphasized the importance of the focus in the arts on “people’s lives.” Cultural workers, or wenyi gongzuozhe (文艺工作者), he said, must “be steadfast in upholding a creative direction taking the people as the core” (人民为中心的创作导向).
The New York Times has a good online summary of Xi Jinping’s address to the Arts Work Symposium (文艺工作座谈会) on October 15. But readers can also turn to Chinese state media, which have compiled a list of “10 Arts One-Liners From Big Daddy Xi” (习大大的10句文艺妙语) which conveys some of the key points in Xi’s address to the recent symposium.
We’ve included a translated version along with the original below: