Olympics Will End With Propaganda Opera

August 20, 2008 Updated: August 20, 2008

A propaganda opera about Tibet will be on show for three days this week, timed as a finale for the Beijing Olympics.

The Opera Princess Wencheng will perform the tale of the marriage between a Chinese princess and a Tibetan king in the 7th century, the Times UK reported on Wednesday.

“Its aim is both to move the audience and to educate them,” Peking Opera director Gao Mukun was quoted as saying. Mukun in his youth was a star of one of the Cultural Revolution's model operas commissioned by Madame Mao.

He directed the first performance of the opera in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, in 2005 to mark the 40th anniversary of Tibet as a part of China.

According to the report, the opera was first commissioned by Zhou Enlai, the then leader of the communist party. It was designed as a propaganda tool to convince Tibetans to appreciate communist rule after the unsuccessful uprising in 1959. But it failed to resonate with the hearts of Tibetans, as their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled the occupied country and entered exile in India.

The opera director was quoted as saying that the opera aims to “educate” the public and will be one of the main cultural performances in the closing ceremony.

The Chinese Communist Party propaganda department has long been trying to portray the princess as an icon of Chinese-Tibetan harmony.

But the opera is likely to further aggravate international activists who are trying to draw the world’s attention to their cause during the Olympics.

In March of this year, Chinese armed police crushed monks' peaceful protests in Lhasa and the military descended on Tibetan monasteries. The communist regime reportedly killed 22 people, while Tibetan sources suggest it was more than 100. The killings prompted angry demonstrations around the world. An unknown number have been detained.

The suppression in Tibet ruined the hopes of the communist regime for staging a triumphant Olympic torch relay in major cities around the world. Torch bearers were greeted with large scale protests in Paris, London and San Francisco and the torch relay was disrupted in many other cities on it's "Journey of Harmony".