Cui Jian

French expats offer fresh perspective with true portraits of China

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 June, 2008, 12:00am

The world may be interested in China economically, but according to Jacques Penhirin, Diane Michaud and Anais Martane (pictured left to right), most foreigners still don't really know the Chinese. That's why the three French expatriates decided to collaborate on a new book, Chinese Portraits.

With Penhirin conceiving the project, journalist Michaud writing the text and photographer Martane shooting the portraits, the large hardcover tome features a variety of faces the three encountered during their work and leisure travels across the Middle Kingdom.

'I went back to France a few weeks ago when the torch relay was there,' Michaud said at the Kee Club book launch on Wednesday evening.

'I was very surprised that a lot of French people did not know about China, and a friend of mine even said to me that he didn't like Chinese people. I was very shocked because my heart is in China and with Chinese people.

'Everyone is now analysing China today, but they do not really know about the country.

'Our aim is not to lecture about China, but to let each individual in the book tell us who they are, what their daily life is like and what their dreams are,' he added.

The book profiles 38 people from all walks of life - a taxi driver in Shanghai, a grocer in Beijing, the Father of Chinese rock Cui Jian, contemporary artist Yue Minjun and a Ningxia farmer who makes just 50 yuan a month.

Proceeds from sales will go to a charitable cause.