Mayor of Small Oregon Town Stands Up and Refuses to be Intimidated by Warning from Chinese Consulate.

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" Why Does China Want A Mural In Oregon Destroyed? .... This summer, a local businessman in Corvallis commissioned a giant mural protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The Chinese consulate sent a letter to the mayor insisting the mural be removed before it quote "tainted" U.S. China relations.The mural in downtown Corvallis, Ore., is big: 10 feet high and 100 feet long. One side shows a peaceful countryside setting in rural Taiwan. The other shows police beating protesters in Tibet and a Buddhist monk setting himself ablaze in protest." ...

"You burn yourself to death. Painful. And we cannot ignore that," says David Lin, the Corvallis businessman who commissioned the mural. Human rights groups say more than 50 people, many of them monks, have self-immolated over the past three years.

The Chinese consulate in San Francisco sent a pointed letter to Corvallis' mayor insisting the mural be removed before it "tainted" U.S.-China relations.

As the letter from the Chinese consulate makes clear, the government there isn't ignoring Lin's attempt to promote political independence for Tibet and his native Taiwan. The letter was a surprise to Julie Manning, the mayor of the small college town, population 54,000, about 80 miles south of Portland.

"I really didn't see that there was a role for local government in some sort of intervention," Manning says.

Manning wrote the consulate back that "the mural reflects protected speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."

After receiving the mayor's letter, consular officials flew to Oregon to talk with her. Manning calls the meeting "cordial." She says she told the Chinese officials she couldn't order the painting destroyed and she wouldn't even if she could. Chinese consulate officials in San Francisco didn't respond to requests for comment.

But at a recent press briefing at the Chinese foreign ministry in Beijing, spokesman Hong Lei responded to a question specifically about the Corvallis mural.

"China's position on Taiwan and Tibet-related issues have been consistent and clear," Hong said. "We oppose anyone abroad using any method to engage in Taiwan's or Tibet's separatist independence activities."

Tibet was incorporated into the People's Republic of China in 1950, and its sovereignty has been a charged international issue ever since. While Taiwan is self-governed, China makes claim to the island and the nation's legal status remains controversial.

It's certainly not the first time the Chinese government has reacted negatively to expressions of support for Taiwan or Tibet. But Todd Stein of the International Campaign for Tibet says that until now, most of the Chinese attention has been directed toward larger cities or states.

"The fact that they would bother to travel all the way up to the cozy college town of Corvallis shows that they kind of leave no stone unturned when it comes to trying to impose their narrative," Stein says.

The mural has spurred a lot of discussion among the roughly 900 Chinese students at Oregon State University in Corvallis, according to Cheng Li, head of the Chinese Student Association there. He says the painting doesn't bother him. Still...

"Despite how I think, I think this mural or this wall painting will actually hurt some Chinese people's feelings," Cheng says.

Lin says he's not backing down. And he says the support he's received from both the mayor and people stopping by his building has bolstered his resolve.

"That kind of support is unbelievable," he says. "And I feel very strongly about this. I [have] gratitude [for] people's support. And that makes me even stronger, stronger to stand on my own feet."

Nevertheless, Lin says he's scared for his safety. In his office in the building with the mural on it, a handgun sits within reach on his desk. "


Sacramento Dave's picture
Sacramento Dave
Nov. 27, 2010 9:46 am


Thank you for this post.

Way to go Corvallis, Mr. Lin and Mayor Manning!!!!!

delete jan in iowa
Feb. 6, 2011 11:16 am

Interesting article... though one hardly needs to look towards China for police who beat, brutalize and torture peaceful protestors....

norske's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I can't help but wonder what an American consulate and the American people in general would think of a huge mural of a before , during , and after painting of New York on 9-11 placed in the middle of an Arabic city. Just sayin..............

Bush_Wacker's picture
Jun. 25, 2011 6:53 am

Correct. Much as I do support my former mayor and appreciate murals, "free speech" is much easier to defend when we agree with it. I think the Chinese are wrong to object because it stupidly gives the protest a lot of press it never would have gained in, the small college town people rarely can identify as being between Salem and Eugene, but not on I-5.

A mural depicting the rape of Iraq by Bush/Cheney would be a much more difficult case for Mayor Manning.

Apr. 26, 2012 11:15 am

Hey, Dave: Loose the "Small".

Corvallis is the home of Oregon State University - or did you mean Oregon is small?

As for me, I don't understand China's objection. Over there the government pays for lots of publicly visual "art" that expresses or reinforces their viewpoint.

Rodger97321's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Dear friend.. Make no mistake the Power of the Corporate elite the "movers & shakers" the Elite of the Elite have no sense of right & wrong except if it cast's them into the public eye in an other than glorious light let's try to remember that it's the sell outs who with there short term profit motivations handed China the key's to the kingdom . It's the fact that Corporate America was allowed to do a Mass exodus overtime that placed china in the catbird seat, and if our "elected officials" were held accountable maybe that Corporate mass exodus would never happened ...

ragingdemo's picture
Nov. 19, 2010 8:01 am

Dear Bush wacker... seeing hows Osama bin laden had about as much to do with 9/11 as SANTA CLAUS I'm not to sure now if you were to have place that mural outside the CFR that would be a different story all together. Let's try however hard it may be to step back and look at all the truly Impossible things the "Official story" would try and have honest Americans believe like super structures that collapse into there own basements in 56 minutes. Like evidence being hauled away fast . Like story's that make no sense . Like lost radio contact & Hijacked aircraft without alert aircraft esscort . Like Obvious Prior knowledge . Like Larry Silverstiens Ole #7 "PULL-IT" . and on and on still need more proof ?

ragingdemo's picture
Nov. 19, 2010 8:01 am

Republicans Failing Their Corporate Sponsors Could Be a Miracle For Democracy

Now, you don't hear it very much in the corporate media, but the budget bill that the Republicans passed through the House and Senate and Donald Trump signed that set the table for this tax legislation - this tax scam that is being worked out between Republicans in the House, Republicans in the Senate and the billionaires who own them all - includes a trillion dollar cut to Medicaid and

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