Media Release

Sydney Chinese is upset with the curse-like inauspicious decorations for Lunar (Chinese) New Year

City of Sydney Council is put on notice to remove the curse-like inauspicious decorations to ease public grievance


“The Sydney Chinatown Focus Group” was formed by a group of Chinatown business owners, professionals and Chinese community leaders.  The group expressed its dissatisfaction with the City of Sydney Council’s inauspicious Lunar (Chinese) New Year decorations that violated the traditional Lunar (Chinese) New Year festive colours and symbols.  The group strongly urge the Council to comply with public request and remove the inauspicious decorations as soon as possible.


Sydney’s Chinatown used to be a popular landmark for everyone during Lunar (Chinese)New Year for its colourful decorations which symbolises prosperity, happiness and tradition of luck .  In recent years, businesses in this area have been greatly impacted by the construction of light rail and the COVID pandemic.  The prosperity of Sydney’s Chinatown has been declining and the businesses are struggling everyday to stay open.


The community is very disappointed and shocked with this year’s Lunar (Chinese) New Year decorations in Chinatown – the odd blue and white colour scheme, blue and white lanterns hanging on Dixon Street, a traditional Chinese symbol of mourning.  This curse-like design seriously offends and hurts the feelings of all Chinese people.  In particular, the local businesses in Chinatown are very depressed and dissatisfied.  The community has also raised dissatisfaction and protests to relevant parties and the media.


The City of Sydney Council responded after receiving the complaints that the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce, the Chinese Consulate Sydney, the Consulates of Thailand and South Korea were consulted before accepting the design.  We do not understand why the Council need to consult the consulates of various countries on a Chinese cultural event. The Haymarket Chamber of Commerce has no actual contact/communication with most of the business owners in Chinatown, we are not aware that they represented our voice at the Council on this occasion.


This design was created by a Chinese-Australian artist Susan Chen, who has limited knowledge of Chinese Culture and Feng Shui.  This was demonstrated in her claim that the inspiration for the design came from the blue and white traditional Chinese porcelain “water element of the Water Tiger” infused with a design representing the traditional Chinese five elements – Feng Shui.  The traditional Chinese Five Elements are: Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth.  The colour of the Water is black.  New Year’s stickers spread on the sidewalk on Dixon Street was a celadon vase with a cap. This is an urn that Chinese use to contain ashes of ancestors.  In addition, symbol of the Year of the Tiger was designed to be trapped in water bottle.  All in all, this is contradictory to the traditional celebration of Chinese New Year.


China Red is the Chinese festive colour recognised by all.  We wonder how this design with a metaphorical curse and mourning colour of funerals that offended the Chinese community was selected by the City of Sydney Council for such an important occasion?


For reasons stated in the above, we request the following from the City of Sydney Council:

  1. Immediately remove all mourning-like decorations and replace with the festive colours that are in line with the traditional New Year colour – China red.
  2. Make public the selection process of the artists for this year because this has caused immense financial hardship to the livelihood of the business owners in Chinatown.
  3. In the process of defending her design and choice of colour “…it is very frustrating to be up against negativity and small-mindedness for a generation we hope to look to for guidance and support……”. We strongly urge her to retract this remark and apologise for her lack of respect and knowledge of Chinese culture to the Chinese community.
  4. Chinatown represents the cultural heritage of all Chinese immigrants.  It is responsible to advocate the Chinese cultural traditions to the world and to promote Australia’s tourism industry.   We hope that governments at all levels will offer respect and support to Chinatown and recognise its importance to the community at large.



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