Chinese cartoonist who made waves during Hong Kong democracy movement aims to send a message of warning — and hope — for Americans
Guo Jingxiong — known to his fans as “Daxiong” — has always cared about freedom. In 2009, he escaped Communist China’s persecution of his faith, and emigrated to the United States.
In 2019, inspired by the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement, Daxiong produced a series of illustrations depicting Hongkongers’ spirit of resistance against the Chinese Communist Party. The pictures caught on, becoming a recurring staple in the millions-strong demonstrations.
Now, Daxiong is surprised and dismayed to see that his adopted country is facing an unprecedented constitutional crisis following the 2020 presidential election — threatening the American liberties for which he escaped from China more than a decade ago.
His newest works depict an embattled but firm President Trump, standing up for America’s founding principles despite being vilified and hamstrung by the media, academics, and those in the Washington, D.C. “swamp.”
Daxiong believes the 2020 election is a decisive historical trial for the American people.
In recent weeks, thousands of individuals, including expert witnesses, have come out to give sworn testimony of alleged electoral fraud, most of it in favour of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
However, the dominant media forces in the U.S. and around the world have refused to report about the alleged fraud, and support Biden as the future president even though his victory has yet to be certified.
“Many people have been deceived by the left-wing media. They believe whatever the media tells them about Trump, even though it’s not true.”
To do his part and counteract these narratives, Daxiong says he wants to send a message with his works. “Culture in and of itself carries symbolic meaning. You don’t need so many words to explain something. I use the medium of art to do it.”
Daxiong said that his newest works depicting Trump are partially intended for his American friends and colleagues who subscribed to socialist, progressive ideas.
“Right now America is just like China was before 1949,” he said, referencing the communist takeover more than 70 years ago. “Americans haven’t experienced socialism before, so many people think it’s a good thing,” Daxiong told Vision Times.
His view coincides with that of many emigrants fleeing communist regimes, who see the danger of a socialist regime taking root in the United States, aided by powerful political interests and the media.
Some of Daxiong’s pieces depict the links between the American Left, Marxism, and Communist China.
“The things I’m depicting [happening in America today] are not artistic exaggeration,” he said. “All the media are censoring Trump.”
“I came to America so that I could express myself. If America becomes like China then there won’t be anywhere else I can go.”
He said that the growing strength of the Left, as well as the massive allegations of fraud, compelled him to expose the “lie of socialism” to his friends. “I can’t be afraid of offending them.”
The ‘King Cartoonist’ of China
Regarded as the “King Cartoonist of China” by fans and art reviewers, Daxiong studied Commercial Design at China’s Jilin College of Arts, before going on to found Qicartoon Studios in 1999.
In 2006, Guo, in collaboration with Jin Yong’s animated novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils, took top honors at the 33rd annual Angoulême International Comics Festival in France. This marked the first time that a Chinese cartoonist won the “Anime Oscar” Award. Guo then signed a contract with Europe’s largest comic publishing company, Soleil Productions. In 2008, he immigrated to the United States, where he started Flag Art Studios. He is one of the few Chinese cartoonists to enter the international arena, and the only Chinese cartoonist to create mainstream comics in the U.S. market. In 2010, at the 31st American ICON Festival, Guo won both the Best Readers and Special Arts Guest awards, and in 2018 he was nominated by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television for Best Original Interactive Production.
More than a year ago, Daxiong’s posters generated such an impact in Hong Kong that they were featured in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
In an interview given at the time, “When the Hong Kong people saw my second poster, they straightaway took it to the streets. I was surprised.”
“The young people are constantly being defeated, but they continue to stand up and fight. Furthermore, there were one million, and another time two million people, marching peacefully. This incident touched me and became my inspiration to create the posters. I feel that, as an artist, I should express my respect for them.”
When he was living in China, Guo created illustrations for many well-known martial arts novelists from Hong Kong, including Jin Yong, Liang Yusheng, and Huang Yi. As a result of working with these famous novelists, he developed what is known as the martial arts spirit. This spirit holds that “if you are in trouble, I will come to help rescue you.” It is this spirit that Guo carries with him, and one of the reasons why he felt obligated to help.
Even though Guo gained fame throughout China, he personally experienced persecution for his beliefs at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party before immigrating to the United States in 2008. Hong Kong was the last city he stayed in before leaving China, but even there he didn’t feel safe from further persecution by the CCP. He is grateful to now be living in the U.S., where he can freely express his thoughts and beliefs, something he could not do in China without risking jail, or worse. He hopes that his posters will encourage the people of Hong Kong and, at the same time, help inspire the democratic movement in China.
With so many close friends in Hong Kong and a deep connection to the people there, he felt compelled to help in the best way he knew how — through his art. He set to work creating the posters as a way of returning a little of the kindness and support given to him by the people of Hong Kong over the years. And he appears to have succeeded.
The art Guo creates is both meticulous and full of positive energy. His cartoons are derived from traditional Chinese drawings, but also have a Western influence. Combining techniques and values from both the East and the West, his art is different from the critical and satirical cartoons of today. He believes comics come in many different forms and says that his art is created with one purpose in mind — to change the world.