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Proposal Made to Honor "China's Shakespeare" at 2008 Olympics

Guan Hanqing, the Yuan Dynasty dramatist sometimes referred to as "China’s Shakespeare," was linked with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in a proposal put forward on March 4 at the Fifth Session of the Ninth Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee.

"China has pledged to host the 2008 Olympic Games as a ‘cultural Olympics,’ and Guan Hanqing -- who contributed so much to the history and culture of Beijing -- should not be forgotten," said Li Hanqiu, a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, who proposed that China commemorate Guan at the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing.

A playwright of the Northern Drama, Guan Hanqing (1240-1360), worked in Beijing at a time the capital was known as Dadu, an international city visited by many travelers from Europe, including Marco Polo. Guan is credited with more than 64 plays, of which some 15 have survived in complete form. His most famous work is Dou E Yuan [Injustice to Dou E]. Like Shakespeare, Guan’s biographical information is sketchy, but he also is said to have been a theatrical manager and sometime actor.

In 1958, the World Peace Council marked the 700th anniversary of the publication of Guan Hanqing's Dramatic Works to nominate Guan as a "World Cultural Personage." The year of 2008 will be the 750th anniversary of the publication of Guan Hanqing's Dramatic Works and the 50th anniversary of his nomination as the "World Cultural Personage."

Among the proposed ways to honor Guan Hanqing in 2008: Renovation of the "Site of Dadu City of the Yuan" in Beijing with a statue in Guan’s honor; new editions of Guan’s dramas and publication of other books on his dramas; in particular, a project to organize translations of his dramas so as to make them more accessible to foreigners; production of films and television plays based on Guan Hanqing’s dramas; and a 2008 festival featuring Guan’s dramas.

(By Chen Chao, staff reporter, china.org.cn, March 6, 2002)

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