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Relics and rapprochement: The intricacies of cultural diplomacy in China’s first archaeological exhibition in the U.S. during the Cold War era

Author(s): Chan, Shing-Kwan

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Abstract: ‘The Exhibition of Archaeological Finds of the People’s Republic of China’ was unveiled at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in December 1974. It was the first exhibition of Chinese archaeological relics organised by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the United States. This occasion marked a significant moment in Sino-American relations and cultural exchange during the Cold War. This paper explores the intricacies of the planning, organisation, and curation of the exhibition, highlighting the strategic use of cultural diplomacy by China to promote its state ideology on an international scale. This paper argues that the exhibition had far-reaching implications for US–China relationship at the time. On one hand, it represented a significant step towards cultural engagement and rapprochement between the two nations. On the other hand, it served to disrupt the relationship further by exposing ideological differences and triggering contentions. Thus, the exhibition’s impact on US–China relations was complex and multifaceted, reflecting the delicate act of cultural diplomacy in the context of Cold War politics.
Publication Date: 20-Dec-2023
Keywords: International exhibitions, cultural diplomacy, US-China relations, Cold War, cultural exchange
Type of Material: Journal Article
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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