‘China Before Communism:’ What’s so Controversial?

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“China before communism” is hardly a radical or controversial thought.

One suspects even the most rusted of communists would assert that their commitment to the ideology was based on an innate desire to see the best for China and its people. Surely a commitment to national well-being is the foundational layer from which all political parties seek to operate anywhere in the world.

Yet this less-than-controversial concept has seen the world-renowned Shen Yun Performing Arts denied the opportunity to buy paid advertising at Westfield shopping centres to promote its upcoming Australian tour from April 27 to May 7 at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre.

The art form at the heart of Shen Yun is Classical Chinese dance, which developed over thousands of years to become one of the most comprehensive dance systems in the world, according to its promoters. It preexisted communist ideology and continues to this day.

But it seems Westfields has a policy to not advertise anything overtly controversial or not—well, according to its particular view of the world.

In this way, we can all feel comfortable and be the beneficiaries of Westfield’s inclusiveness as we browse and shop at their 37 centres in Australia and five in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world, including the United States.

Epoch Times Photo
A general view of Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney, Australia on June 23, 2021. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

So suggestive poses by scantily clad models with perfect bodies promoting all manner of things one assumes do not inadvertently body shame those of us who might just happen to be otherwise shaped. Additionally, Westfield’s gender equality and inclusiveness policy would not in any way be “overtly or not” confronting to particular religions, right?

In a free country, the owners of properties and facilities should have, within certain basic limitations, the right to determine to whom they rent their premises or advertising spaces. That they have policies to help determine their approach to prospective clients is also good practice.

What isn’t good practice, fair or reasonable is when these policy positions are warped to accommodate a certain viewpoint and weaponised to disallow another.

Be Bold Westfield

When Westfield tells the world it has a company culture based on belonging with values of “boldness” and “ethics” among others, one cannot help but reflect on the double standards and timidity displayed by the refusal to advertise a dance company’s tour.

Having its cultural roots in bygone millennia, Shen Yun’s determination to continue this world-class dance system in the face of cultural repression should be embraced and celebrated for its “boldness” which just happens to be the first of Westfield’s six publicly stated values.

Westfield’s “boldness” does not extend to standing in solidarity with a dance troupe seeking to preserve the cultural integrity of its dance system.

Boldness is not running from every perceived controversy or not. Peace is not simply the absence of war.

Epoch Times Photo
Shen Yun Performing Arts World Company’s curtain call at the National Theater of Korea in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 19, 2023. (Kim Guk-hwan/The Epoch Times)

To refuse the opportunity to a world-recognised dance group to advertise because of a perceived political position may well be discrimination, but above all, in the case of Shen Yun, it is cowardice by Westfield writ large.

In an environment where Australian institutions, including our universities and individual businesses, have been targeted by the operatives of the communist dictatorship in Beijing, it is exceedingly disappointing to witness a substantial enterprise that grew to become a major player in the peace and freedom Australia has to offer, not standing by a dance troupe seeking to preserve culture in the face of repression.

It is to be hoped that this otherwise inexplicable decision to refuse advertising to Shen Yun was not influenced by non-commercial considerations.

Free societies provide freedom of choice. But those freedoms are not the natural state as power-hungry individuals and dictatorial philosophies continually seek to quash and undermine those freedoms.

Each generation must fight to protect the hard-won freedoms gained by our forebears.

The request of a dance troupe to advertise its performance shouldn’t be such a big ask of a major retail chain.

It’s not too late, Westfields. Display the boldness of which you speak and allow Shen Yun to advertise its performances.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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