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Every day 5,000 to 6,000 Chinese line up to see an exhibition of American art from Boston's Museum of Fine Arts at the National Art Gallery in Peking. But a residue of bitterness remains from a contretemps over Chinese demands that the Boston museum withdraw 13 of the 70 paintings in the show.Insiders say the Chinese stance was not due to last-minute interference by party officials, but to suspicion within China's art establishment that the Boston museum took advantage of US government financing to send China a second-rate show.There is a Hopper but not the best Hopper, a Homer but not the best Homer, a Whistler but not the best Whistler.

The Chinese are hungry for Western art. But they would have liked the first government-sponsored showing of US art to represent the best available -- not paintings shipped off during the rebuilding of the gallery in which they are normally housed in Boston.m

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