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China’s Cultural Revolution Cover Up

Posted May. 13, 2006 06:54,   


If you type the word “The Great Cultural Revolution” onto “Baidu,” China’s most popular search engine, you will get this warning: “Your search word could violate related laws.” The Chinese authorities have blocked searches for the term so that their people can not know the revolution. It is dreary that one can be punished just because of searching for the term.

Beijing Blocks the Term, “The Great Cultural Revolution”-

Although the 40th anniversary of the Great Cultural Revolution, which shook the whole country, is just a few days away (May 16), the Chinese government is too quiet. There will be not a single event held by social organizations, not to mention official events by the government. Chinese media outlets, including Xinhua News Agency, have not written a single line about the revolution as of May 12.

Releasing a book, movie or TV drama about the revolution is a taboo as well. A photographer in Beijing wanted to hold a photo exhibition about the revolution last month but gave up because of measures taken by the authorities.

A diplomacy analyst in the West said about the all-out crackdown by the Chinese government, “It is because there are considerable risks. There are still mixed assessments of the revolution, and commemoration of the revolution could lead to a reassessment of Mao Zedong and generate a division of national opinion.”

The Chinese Public: “I was Better Off Back Then”-

Asked, “Which is the better time between present day and days during the Great Cultural Revolution,” a 50-year-old taxi driver in Beijing firmly said, “I was better off back then.”

He said that he could pay for everything he needed with the 12 yuan he received from the government a month at that time, but that he is always pinched for money although he makes 2,500 yuan a month now. Worse yet, he always feels insecure because he could be fired at any time.

Looking at the ever-widening wealth gap and soaring housing prices, the Chinese public appear to feel nostalgia of the days of the revolution, during which it did not worry about food, clothing and shelter, at least. That nostalgia can be also detected in Mao’s still-high popularity.

Assessments Far Apart-

Ba jin, the Chinese contemporary literature master who died in October last year, criticized, “There is no hope for a people who fail to face their own ugliness,” arguing for the establishment of a museum of the Great Cultural Revolution in June 1986.

But Chen Kaige, who directed the movie “Farewell My Concubine,” said, “I gained important experiences of my life during the days of the Great Cultural Revolution.”

Fourth-generation Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao, seem to favor Mao over second- and third-generation leaders.

The incumbent leaders say that the revolution is a deviation of Marxism-Leninism and Maoism, and that therefore it must be separate from Maoism.

The Chinese Communist Party concluded in a plenary session of the 11th Central Committee in June 1981 that “the Great Cultural Revolution is Mao’s far-left mistake which inflicted the most serious desperation and losses on the party, the country and the people since the foundation of China.”

A professor the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, “The Great Cultural Revolution is no longer something to debate, but something to overcome.”

Jong-Dae Ha orionha@donga.com