Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mao-era mark is passed in silence

By Aussiegirl

Those who get to write history, get to erase it. If successful, it's as if it never existed. To read about this violent and turbulent era in Chinese politics read Nien Cheng's riveting account of her imprisonment during the Cultural Revolution, entitled "Life and Death in Shanghai", an absolutely riveting account of her solitary and courageous struggle to survive and eventually emerge victorious from years of persecution. Another account of these years of turmoil can be found in Jung Chang's excellent account of her family's experiences in China called "Wild Swans".

Mao-era mark is passed in silence The World The Australian

FORTY years ago today, the Chinese Communist Party's central committee issued a document, at the dictation of chairman Mao Zedong, summoning an assault on "reactionary bourgeois elements" and "poisonous weeds" lurking within the heart of the party.
Thus was the disastrous Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution launched.

Nine days later, a poster was put up at the elite Beijing University denouncing bourgeois control of educational institutions. Within weeks, Red Guards had begun to act on these approved messages, beating their teachers and others formerly in authority, and Mao issued his own notorious poster on August 5 urging Chinese to "Bombard the headquarters".

For 10 terrifying years, China was hurled into anarchy.

Historians now say Mao launched the Cultural Revolution because he was losing his sole grip on economic policy following the Great Leap Forward, which he initiated in 1958.

By then 72, and lacking a capacity to win his case within the party hierarchy by debate, he pursued a simple political solution: the denigration, incarceration and death of his rivals through smear.

While Beijing-based writer Jasper Becker has convincingly established that the Great Leap caused 30 million to die by starvation, the numbers killed or hounded to suicide during the Cultural Revolution remain uncertain, and are estimated by academics at anything from two million to 20 million.

But today there will be no mention of the subject in China, whose leaders maintain a rigorous silence on the Cultural Revolution, and whose 30,000 "net police" constantly patrol websites to block any that mention this 10-year black hole in China's economic, cultural and political life.

Baidu, China's most popular search engine, warns those who seek Cultural Revolution sites: "Your search word could violate laws." A Google search lists sites, but nearly all are blocked.


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