Aussies protest Chinese music at Sydney Opera House

Aussies protest Chinese music at Sydney Opera House


norman lebrecht

October 14, 2018

The Hubei Symphony Orchestra is presenting a classic Chinese opera, Lake Honghu, conducted by Vanessa Scammell inside the Hallowed Sydney Opera House.

Some of the locals are up in arms about Chinese ‘soft power’.

Last week the opera house was plastered with ads for a betting company.


Here’s an appeal for ‘Australian values’.

Letter to Minister for the Arts regarding to “Red Guards on Honghu Lake”

Hon Don Harwin

Minister for the Arts

Dear Minister,

We are writing to protest against the presentation of a Chinese opera, “Red Guards on Honghu Lake” in our Opera House on 4 November, 2018.

The opera represents a silent invasion by China to Australia under its Uniting Front policy with the intention to gain influences in Australia into believing that contemporary China is revolutionary and is liberating its people.

The promotions of the “Honghu” opera highlight the themes of “Fighting for freedom and for hope” and “liberation of all suffering people”.

We found these disgusting as the opera is portrayed as an art form to cover up the theme of promoting violence and glorifying the Red Army and it conveys a fake image about China nowadays.

We, in the Chinese community, think it is imperative to alert our fellow Australian of this “Uniting Front” tactic as it is being used as a soft power to confuse or dilute the alertness of the Australian community about the Chinese silent invasion, especially the art community.

We urge you to intervene by asking or directing

1)      the Opera House management to halt the ticket sale of this opera

2)      through the Opera House management, the presenter to cancel this performance

While our group is very concerned about the landing of soft power from China on our home, we commit to using our means to publicise and educate the community about the China’s Uniting Front strategy and its impact on Australia, especially in the areas of democracy, liberty, freedom and rule of law.

Please find attached a brief of the “Red Guards on Honghu Lake” that shows our comments about this opera.

Yours truly,

Australian Values Alliance


  • Nick2 says:

    What utter nonsense! I wonder what those same protesters were doing a few years ago when a Chinese Orchestra played Chinese instruments in the Opera House Concert Hall. And also what they were doing more recently when the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra performed there also on Chinese instruments. Both concerts not surprisingly featured Chinese music, some of it written in the pre-Cultural revolution era.

    • Tor Frømyhr says:

      This group of nutters only formed last year.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Like the latest group of nutters who’ve gone feral over visual advertising. If one group can do it then another certainly has their right to do it. You can see where this sense of entitlement leads (no, probably not, if you’re from the Left).

  • Tor Frømyhr says:

    This is also the same group that has called for a compulsory course in ‘Australian Values’ (whatever that means) for all University Students.
    A small bunch of extreme RW nutters who also support Trump’s agenda and Australian gov’t abhorrent refugee policies. Nothing significant in media in Oz.

    Now last week’s protest against using SOH sails as an advertising billboard for horse racing and betting – that was a protest that was worthwhile and had legs.

  • Alex Davies says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this. Is there a realistic threat that by putting on this show the opera house is help promote Chinese government propaganda? I had similar concerns about the Shen Yun production which was touring the UK not so long ago. They try to make out that they are just promoting traditional Chinese culture, but the show is actually affiliated to Falun Gong. I know a lot of people in the West have sympathy with Falun Gong, to some extent quite justifiably, on account of their persecution by the Chinese government, but Falun Gong themselves have some very strange ideas that I for one don’t want to have any part in promoting. One could reasonably ask whether this is any different to London opera houses hiring out premises to Russian ballet companies over the summer, but I’d say that it is substantially different. Companies like the Bolshoi and Mariinsky certainly amount to a kind of cultural propaganda, insofar as they advertise the achievements of Russian culture, but there is no explicit political message, just a message, ‘See what Russia does better than anywhere else in the world.’ Some years ago I saw a Chinese ballet company performing Swan Lake at Covent Garden. Again, I had no qualms about this because it was just a display of Chinese talent. What would worry me would be something that is marketed as culture but actually contains a fairly explicit political message that is opposed to western values.

  • Lili says:

    I’m surprised that people who commented here have no idea about the background of this so called “classic Chinese opera”… it has nothing to do with “classic” and very little with “Chinese”. Lake HongHu (original title 洪湖赤卫队) was a famous (or rather infamous) propaganda opera movie production of 1961, which sings the praises of the Red Army and the Great Leader. The fact that this kind of propaganda opera are performed again in China (for a few years now), and worse, being exported to the west, is another pathetic sign of the step backwards, stupidity and ignorance.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    There is no reason to doubt the words of this protest. China is a threat to the world, and those who don’t see it will soon be their puppets.

    • The Drumpf says:

      Damn right! The EVIL RED COMMIE DRAGON is the biggest enemy to freedom and democracy in the western world. The Drumpf plans to take his trade war to the next level by nuking China.

    • Nick2 says:

      Yet more utter nonsense! Besides, this is not a forum for political dialogue.

  • David Harrison says:

    “Some of the locals”, you must be kidding. This is a group of single-interest extremists who are anti-Communist Chinese, not “Aussies” or “locals” at all. It’s highly misleading to try to conflate them with the rightwing bought-and-paid-for interest groups who wanted the horse racing promoted on the SOH sails. I know it’s tempting to paint Australians as boorish racists but sorry, you’re way off the mark this time.