Holocaust Exhibit Opens in China, Matched by Chinese Peace Display

The first exhibition on the Holocaust to be shown in China was inaugurated Tuesday in Shanghai, with the ceremonial opening attended by some 300 Chinese dignitaries, American diplomats and a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which assembled the display.

Yang Fu Chang, the Chinese vice minister for foreign affairs responsible for Middle East relations, headed his country’s representation and was the guest of honor at a dinner Tuesday.

The exhibit, called “The Courage to Remember,” is a 60-panel photographic display designed by the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center. Since its inaugural opening in Vienna in 1988, it has toured Western and Eastern Europe, including several exhibits in the Soviet Union; South Korea; New Zealand; South Africa; and the United States.

The display in Shanghai, which has descriptions in English and Chinese, is now on permanent loan to China, and there are plans to display the exhibit in Beijing, Nanjing and other Chinese cities, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in a telephone interview from Shanghai.

Also opened was a companion exhibit by the Chinese Institute for Peace and Development Studies. Titled “To Cherish Their Memory Forever,” the 20-panel display recalls the presence of some 25,000 European Jews who found refuge in Shanghai between 1938 and 1945.

Fifty international scholars, currently participating in a conference in Shanghai on Israel and Judaic studies, also participated in the opening.

MENORAH LIT IN BEIJING

The Wiesenthal Center delegation, led by the center’s dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, started its visit on Nov. 27 in Beijing and has held a series of meetings with government, academic and business leaders. The group is in China on a two-week mission.

The emphasis of the visit, said Cooper, has been on “reacquainting two ancient (Chinese and Jewish) civilizations and to make sure that Israel gets a fair shake. Because until now, the Chinese haven’t heard too many good things about Israel.”

Specifically, Hier has urged Chinese officials to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel and to declare that Beijing no longer endorses the 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution that branded Zionism as a form of racism.

Hier suggested that an appropriate date for such a declaration would be Jan. 20, 1992, the 50th anniversary of the convening of the Wannsee Conference, which set in motion the Nazis’ “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.” There was no Chinese response to the suggestion.

At the same time, the group has made it clear to its hosts that the American Jewish community fully supports U.S. demands for human rights reforms in China, as enunciated by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker during his recent visit to Beijing.

At a state dinner in Beijing on Sunday, a Chanukah menorah was lit by Yuki Novick, who heads an Israeli computer company.

The Wiesenthal Center’s 30-member delegation includes a high proportion of businessmen who are exploring the possibilities of establishing commercial ties with China.

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