Nov 072007


Today’s WSJ told about the new CCTV building now under construction in China. It will be the 2nd largest office building in the world, after the Pentagon.

I wonder if it will become a ubiquitous symbol of China. If so, that will be some interesting symbolism — a communications building as national symbol of a country that tries hard to restrict certain types of communication.


Another country with a ubiquitous building as national symbol is Russia. The Foreign Ministry Building is everywhere. This photo of it is from Wikipedia. It’s also in the standard intro scenes on Mosfilm DVDs:

Logo mosfilm

It’s shown on the background of some of RTR Planeta’s news broadcasts. Somewhere on my desk was a candy wrapper for one of the Red October brand of candies. It pictured the Foreign Ministry building. (The wrapper still may be on my desk, but I may never know for sure.) One sees it in movies whenever there’s an excuse to show it, such as in Tarkovsky’s graduation project, “Steamroller and Violin”.

It’s interesting that a country would use a foreign ministry building as such an important symbol. Here in the U.S. the State Department building gets no such status. For us, the U.S. Congress is more of a symbol.


  • Natan Kumanov

    The foreign ministry probably was not, but the red star on top was… We don’t pay so much attention for systems of thought (we don’t recall on every occasion gulags, totaliarianism vs. democracy vs. Martian Green Men, etc, with such regularity as e.g. Americans do), and we care for visual symbols. The red star is such a symbol, rather than what happens inside (which is a rational idea rather than a symbol). I personally did not even know that building was used as the Foreign Ministry.