Only high profile impresarios (Zhang Yimou the top dog, and much resented by the Old Guard for that reason) or those supported by them (Cai Guoqiang, Yang Liping, Dadawa [= Zhu Zheqin + He Xuntian], etc.) or self-recostumed virtuosi (Lang Lang) have gone on to reach Big Publics extending (and crosslinking) “China” to or into the “Old” and “new” democracies of the arts. The State cannot play in this game, nor can the armies of dance or musical performers still on the government and army payroll. The lavish spending on Expo 2010 earned little praise: who knows the name(s) of those who designed and built it? (not Ai Weiwei though he continues to claim one or another role).
There has been some success in film, but only so where joint venture investment has taken root, leading to a string of juried awards. The rebasing (post-politicizing) of narrative film has done best of course where consciously delivered as story book history, but much less so (in box office at least) when attempting comment on the contemporary visible or directly remembered. As of course Modern now means. Among joint venture films nouveau of a non-storied sort, the top runner prize-winner, Jia Zhangke’s Shijie (2001), though very well received as art cinema, and available in full with English titles online since autumn 2009 (3 full years), has “grossed” a mere 20,000 online (Youtube) views. Vs 120,000 for the trailer and 1.5 million for the gongfu fight scene in Crouching Tiger , a Hong Kong production if there ever was one. Perhaps the return of that colony to the motherland has replanted or supplanted a “native” cinema, such as had taken root in the 5th Generation decades.
But there has also been extreme non-success in weaving a new generation of “pop” song into the world fabric. There is not and will not be a Chinese Bjork. (Though there are aspirants galore: Ayadou, Sa Dingding, and Dadawa). “Rock” vs “ethnic” vs. “Rap/Hip-hop” vs. “nightclub croon” in tandem?…. Perhaps because too easily (facilely) fused under the pounding of disco pulsing (see Wang Feifei’s “飞音乐”(Chinese Trip-hop) – more subtle cross-readings are few and little known “abroad”. Which helps explain, as we shall see, why frontline fusions (crossovers) have largely retreated into the inspection, even stealing, of elements of borderland sound, most prominently of Tibetan folk, but also Mongolian and Uighur.