Friday, August 06, 2004

Naturism reaches China

Is the most populous nation in the world ready for naturism? Well, the first cracks are appearing in communist, conservative China. According to a report in a Taiwanese newspaper, a group of female college students suddenly felt like taking off their clothes and swimming naked at a national park near Hangzhou, a major town near Shanghai.
Instead of banning the practice, the park authorities decided to open up an area to nude swimming, effective August 12, next Thursday. The question is whether locals and the authorities will be open enough to accept this. China’s “Modern Gold Paper” or Xiandai Jinbao, quoted in Taiwan’s United Daily News today, writes that most people seem to find nude bathing immoral. The report only quotes one opinion to the contrary, with a Mrs. Zhang saying that nudity is man’s natural state, and that people were born naked, so nobody should take offense. A provincial travel service official points out that naturist resorts overseas are closed to the public at large and are managed separately.
The question is now whether park management will handle the criticisms well and be allowed to go ahead in the face of a conservative backlash. If it works, and nude swimming is allowed, than that will be a major breakthrough for naturism in China, and in Asia as a whole. If even a morally conservative country like communist China can allow naturism, than other countries in the region can hardly find excuses not to follow suit. This is news that deserves reporting to the International Naturist Federation’s World Congress in Croatia later this month.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Countdown to the Congress

I had wanted to write more ideas and details about my proposal for a Manifesto for a Naturist Century here, but the preparations for my trip are taking way too much of my time. While the International Naturist Federation congress doesn’t take place until the end of this month, I’m already leaving Taiwan for Croatia next week, purely for a spot of tourism.
Again, I’m looking forward to the congress: three days of discussions about the future of naturism. Europe will always be at the center of the naturist movement because of its longer history there, and because of the wider acceptability of naturism by the people and the authorities. I wish I could only say the same thing about Asia. Many Asians already know and accept naturism, but they are unable to do so openly, because the authorities, the media and a majority of the public still don’t understand that naturism is all about freedom, feeling good, nature and respect.
What I want to learn at the congress is how to promote those values in Asia, how to organize naturist groups and help them find acceptance. As a foreigner in Asia, I cannot be a full participant, but I can at least make some contributions and push for the development of a naturist movement.
How much I can help, that won’t be clear until after the congress. Three days of interaction on the Mediterranean, August 27 through 29 at the naturist resort of Valalta near the picturesque Venetian-style town of Rovinj, in Croatia.
You’ll get a full report about the congress after my return to Asia early next month, but in the meantime, keep looking out for reports about the congress in the mainstream media. There is a news conference on the first day of the event, so at least there is a chance that the Asian media will mention something.