Thursday, July 31, 2008

New Chinese Embassy: Fortress or Not?

I'm channeling my inner Dr. Jane Loeffler as I look at photos of the new Chinese embassy in Washington, and I'm getting a very Fortress-y vibe.

The front face of the embassy certainly doesn't seem to express openness. Not friendly or welcoming at all. I see a fence, gates, vehicle barriers (those low posts, or 'bollards,' that are placed in front of the gates), no windows, just a dark forbidding hole of an entrance and an oppressive stone wall. Heavens! Who would want to go to that place for a visa?

A long view of the exterior isn't any better. There's a perimeter fence and more barriers, and the facade looks more guarded than diplomatic. Are the Chinese expressing fear with that architecture, or just inscrutability?


Consul-At-Arms said...

How dare you try to hold a "non-aligned" nation such as the People's Republic to the same standards expected of the decadent West?!

TSB said...


Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and, may I add, I'm happy to see that your government has allowed you to access the internet today.

Irony is lost on the Chinese, I'm sure, so permit me to explain that I am not a critic of defensive architecture. Far from it. I drew attention to the new ChiCom embassy in Washington (way back in 2008!) in order to tweek our domestic critics of defensive embassy architecture. A Fortress Embassy is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak.

As for being a pathetic pawn - or any kind of pawn - of my country's propaganda, I reject your charge. I will cite to you the words of Mao Tse-tung, who said that conflicts in cultural matters ought to be resolved by a free exchange of ideas: "let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend."

I suppose the bloom is off the flower of free expression in China, these days. But it is always in bloom here in the West, and I hope you will keep peeking out through the firewall of information repression that your brutal communist overlords have erected around your land.