Updated: Rocky kids' art project censored to comply with "One China" policy

A colourful herd is grazing contentedly on the banks of the mighty Fitzroy, their hides flashing with local landmarks, famous artworks, words, and flags.

But two fewer flags than planned...

edited bull.JPG

The North Rockhampton State High School's contribution to the public art project for Beef Australia was a multicultural-themed bull statue, covered in barramundi-shaped flags representing the cultural backgrounds of the school's student populations.

Before the statue was installed at Riverside, Rockhampton Regional Council's Advance Rockhampton painted over two Taiwanese flags (as circled in the photo).

General manager Tony Cullen told the ABC:

"Advance Rockhampton made a decision to change one bull statue on display in Quay Street in line with the Australian Government's approach of adhering to the one-China policy."

Is Taiwan an independent country, or a part of China?  The relationship between China and Taiwan is very complex, and bound up in significant historic and linguistic layers of meaning.

Dr Mark Harrison is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Tasmania and an Adjunct Director of the Australian Centre on China in the World at the Australian National University.  Writing for the Lowy Institute's The Interpreter late last year, he explained the "One China policy" itself is very much concerned with the specifics of language, and the way our language shapes the reality we live in.

"...in the Chinese world, steeped in the philosophical and political legacies of Confucianism, there is a distinctive understanding of the relationship between language and power and of the way language is constitutive of political realities. To state that we abide by a One-China Policy, including the finesse we bring to the meaning of 'China', is an action that creates a political reality. It demonstrates that we accept the complex, multi-dimensional and historically-situated relationship between Beijing and Taipei as that reality.

"The legacy of Confucianism is why Beijing is so acutely sensitive to the language that is used with respect to Taiwan. For Beijing, any vocabulary that implies that Taiwan is a nation-state in the international system has the potential to be constitutive of a different political reality, one that would ultimately undermine the historical legitimacy of the PRC party-state."

 That vocabulary, apparently, includes some hand-painted flags on a fibreglass bull.

Original story from May 8:

No Bull: #BeefWeek herd on show at Riverside

There's nothing we love more than a fibreglass bull here in the Beef Capital, so as part of the city-wide celebrations of all things bovine, a collection of art bulls have mustered at Riverside.

It includes contributions from local schools, UQ's Rural Clinical School, and InspirexArt's adult learner artists.  If you can't get down there yourself for a look, here's a quick tour: