China has ordered a quality control crackdown on the statues of Mao on sale to tourists.
Visitors who flock to Mao’s birthplace at Shaoshan in central Hunan province have complained that some statues they buy as mementoes are sub-standard, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
A local official explained that some were physically disproportional while others were made in a slipshod way with low-quality materials. “The move is expected to curtail the production and sale of low-quality Mao statues that harm the tourism market and people’s feeling for the great man,” said the official.
It’s thought the new policy will ban the use of plastic and plaster because plastic deforms and plaster is easy to break. A team of art and craft experts will work with factories to decide which statues are ‘authentically Mao’.
Chairman Mao still features on Chinese banknotes, and a few people still have his portrait on the walls of their homes. Mao lookalikes also find plenty of work in China, and each year a competition is held to find the man with the closest resemblance to the former Chinese leader.
by Andy Moreton
If you’re planning a visit to one of the most fascinating countries on earth, Luxique offers a choice of nearly two dozen luxury hotels in China and several luxury hotels in Hong Kong.
Among the many possibilities heralded by the election of President Obama is the re-opening of Cuba to American trade and tourism.
Although it lies only 90 miles from the southernmost point of the United States, Cuba is the only country in the world that Americans are banned from visiting as tourists. Exemptions are made for some journalists and academics with special permission from the State Department, while many other travellers flout the ban by flying via Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas.
Now Congress has introduced a bill that would allow all Americans to travel there. If passed, it would represent the most far-reaching revision of the restrictions imposed by Washington on the Caribbean island nearly 50 years ago.
The US imposed sanctions on travel and trade in 1962, three years after Fidel Castro took power. The US argument was that denying Castro revenue from trade and tourism dollars would undermine the Communist government.
One of the arguments put forward by members of Congress today in favour of lifting the ban is that Americans are free to visit other countries regarded as Communist, such as China and Vietnam.
But opponents argue that flooding Cuba with tourist dollars would only shore up the regime run by Raul Castro, who took over from his sick brother last year.
A thaw in relations seems increasingly likely. President Obama recently agreed to ease restrictions imposed by his predecessor, allowing Cuban-Americans to visit annually rather than once every three years. And the President is attending the Summit of The Americas in Trinidad later this month when new relations with Cuba are expected to surface.
What have Americans been missing? Well, according to the Lonely Planet travel guide, “Cuba, as well as having the usual Caribbean attractions in abundance … has one of the world’s most exciting (and bloody) histories, extraordinary musical and dance traditions all of its own and a rich national architecture that never ceases to astound.”
by Andy Moreton