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  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Historian Frank Couvares on the Hollywood-China connection

    [Hollywood studios are increasingly editing their movies to cater to the Chinese market.]...Frank Couvares, a professor of history and American Studies at Massachusetts’ Amherst College, said that rather than something new, Hollywood’s readiness to cater to Chinese demands on content reflects business practices the American film industry has had in place for more than seven decades.“If back in the 1930s or ‘40s the French objected to portraying the Foreign Legion as being overly harsh on Africans, or the British were unhappy that they were being shown as too colonialistic, then Hollywood would make the edits it needed to market its product,” he said.Still, the scope of this latest iteration seems to dwarf that of its predecessors, not only because China’s economic and political clout is so immense — successive years of GDP growth rates around 8- 10 percent have made its economy the second largest in the world — but also because the country’s communist masters seem obsessed by the way Beijing is perceived abroad.

  • Originally published 01/17/2013

    Plan to bulldoze courtyard homes for 18th-century-style square in Beijing

    BEIJING — In a corner of old Beijing, the government may soon be both destroying history and remaking it.District officials want to re-create a piece of China’s glorious dynastic past by rebuilding a square near the Drum and Bell towers in 18th-century Qing Dynasty fashion. To do it, they will demolish dozens of scuffed courtyard homes that preservationists say have themselves become a part of a cultural history that is fast disappearing as construction transforms the capital.Because of relatively recent renovation, few of the homes can claim to be more than a few decades old. But they are in crooked alleyways known as “hutongs,” which formed around courtyard houses and date back centuries....

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