KGOU

China

Harry Wad / Wikimedia Commons

Art, culture, and politics are closely linked in China, and until the mid-1960s Cultural Revolution government officials viewed Western classical music as an unwelcome outsider.

“For a while the piano was regarded as the ultimate expression of the bourgeoisie,” says Richard Kraus, a University of Oregon political scientist and the author of Pianos and Politics in China: Middle-Class Ambitions and the Struggle over Western Music. “[Then] Mao's wife decided she liked the piano, and there was then sort of the idea that you need to adapt Western technology and art to serve Chinese political purposes. So after about 1968 the piano was alright.”

China hosted back-to-back visits this week with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. More and more detainees are participating in a hunger strike at the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.

So far more than 1,000 have died in the April 24 collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka. ABC Radio Sima Bhowmik joins Suzette Grillot for a conversation about the lack of government oversight in Bangladesh's garment industry.

Dainis Matisons / Flickr

Earlier this week Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to China. Even though the two leaders did not meet, the timing of the visits signals China could start to become a diplomatic player in the troubled region.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a longtime observer of Syria, says China tried to arrange a meeting in 2007 between Netanyahu and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it didn’t work.

“[China has] been asserting themselves more and more in the Middle East,” Landis says. “And that’s a product of the United States withdrawing, and China is becoming much more self-confident.”

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