China's Rejuvenation: The Long, Hard Road To Freedom And Modernisation  

Exhibits in the National Museum revisit the country’s struggles with feudalism, underdevelopment and foreign occupation.

 

The National Museum of China, located in the capital, Beijing, behind the famous Tiananmen Square, holds various exhibitions, including “The Road To Rejuvenation.” The permanent exposition revisits China’s struggles with internal strife, underdevelopment, foreign aggression and modernisation from the British-led Opium Wars in 1840 till date. Artefacts, official correspondence, books, newspaper excerpts, tools, weapons, pictures and symbols of civilisation and authority, tell the story of ancient and modern China.

The exposition, spread out on two floors of the imposing building, includes collections on foreign aggression, internal uprisings and civil wars, the creation of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Republic of China, reforms and opening up to the world; and the resultant gains. On display are ancient Chinese inventions like printing presses, gun powder producing machines, weapons and funeral objects of the pioneer Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Other museum items are an ancient seismograph, hosiery knitting machine imported from England during the Industrial Revolution, a telescope used by Captain Cheng Biquang of the Guangdong Fleet and pictures of the first foreign language school in Beijing.

 The long, hard struggle of the Chinese culminated in the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 by Chairman Mao Tse-tung after a bloody civil war against Kuomintang forces. In 1978, new Leader, Deng Xiaoping, embarked on reforms and opening up the country to the world. Ever since, China has increasingly modernised and is today the world’s second largest economy after the USA. All this is encapsulated in the various exhibits.

After visiting the exposition on November 29, 2012, President Xi Jinping said: “This exhibition reviews the yesterday of the Chinese nation, displays the today of the Chinese nation, and announces the tomorrow of the Chinese nation.” He noted that “…. because Chinese people have never surrendered, and incessantly rose with force and spirit to resist, we grasped hold of our own fate in the end.” Before warning, “…if we are backward, we will take a beating. Only development enables self-strengthening.”

 

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