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Chinese history wars: controlling the present, past and future History News

Hong Kong, China – Since the oppression of nationalists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the ruling Communist Party has been the author and myth of the country’s modern history.

The role of the Propaganda Department is to enforce a version of the party’s history, with the help of so-called “patriotic education,” which now extends to areas beyond the classroom. It is also expanding into Hong Kong, a thriving market for versions of modern Chinese history.

“The party sees history as a key political management issue that preserves the party’s reputation and power,” wrote writer Richard McGregor in his book The Party: The Secret World of Communist Chrers of the World.

At the beginning of his first term, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Communist Party General Secretary declared war on “historical nihilism,” which he defined as an attempt to question the official narrative of significant events in the past.

On Thursday, as the party celebrated 100th birthday, Xi reminded the people of Beijing again of the importance of history.

“Through the mirror of history we get the foresight for the future,” he said. “We can see why we were successful in the past and why we will continue to be successful in the future.”

He stressed that one of the founding principles of the party was to “keep the truth”.

Xi “is well aware that whoever controls the present should control the past,” said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London. “If Xi and the Party can continue to do so, they believe they can determine China’s future, and the people of China will embrace it, because what Xi wants for China is the ‘desire for history’.”

Here are four innovative moments in the Chinese history of the first century of the Communist Party that highlight the rift between official and public accounts:

Long March (1934-1936)

CCP version: An epic military maneuver led by the great strategist Mao Zedong to overcome the nationalist troops that have become the myth of the founding of the People’s Republic. The Maori Red Army – which initially numbered about 80,000 people – traveled about 12,500 km across the country’s vast expanse from the coastal province of Jiangxi to establish a new base in northwestern China. Along the way, Mao’s heroic soldiers attracted the support of “ordinary” people and overcame tremendous challenges.

What KZP did not say: The retreat was a disastrous first month and the nationalists were initially ambushed by between 15,000 and 40,000 lives. Another faction backed by the Soviets within the Maok party sided with him and emerged as the undisputed leader of the communist forces. Declining troops often resorted to kidnapping – and tortured and executed those taken captive as “enemy classes”.

Mao Zedong, Chu Teh, Chou En-lai and Qin Bangxia appear after a long march in northern Shanxi. The march developed an almost mythical status within the party as an example of Mao’s strategic brilliance. [File: AP Photo]

Great leap forward (1958 – 1962)

CCP version: Hand Helmsman Mao’s revolutionary program to accelerate industrialization, defeat enemies and defeat advanced economies like the UK and US. The entire population encouraged Maoist thinking and adopted a newly invented (common) method of organization that would greatly boost industrial production overnight. It is officially said to be “a difficult period of three years,” according to McGregor of The Party.

What KZP did not say: High-profile cadres rushed to the program and the snow was ruined and mistakes were made that killed about 35 to 40 million people, former news agency journalist Yang Jisheng Xinhua documented the tragedy in the book Tombstone. Utopian toilets proved ineffective, and deviations from small-scale industry in farm labor weakened food production. Combined with numerous natural disasters and the removal of aid from the Soviets, the program did not create “true communism,” but the worst man-made famine in history.

Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)

CCP version: The last time for the Maori was for the pro-capitalists to fight the conspiracy to fight at the leadership level of the Communist Party and prevent the party from being diverted. Deng Xiaoping, who was cleared but emerged as the country’s main leader after Mao’s death in 1976, described the episode as a decade-long disaster. The blame, however, lies at the feet of Mao’s hand-picked successor Lin Biao, who died in a plane crash when he fled to Mongolia, and was placed in the Four’s Gang that brought together Mao’s widow and Jiang Qing’s longtime revolutionary friend. a judicial television session.

What KZP did not say: The campaign was led by Mao to cleanse his political enemies, real or perceived, and re-establish the rule of the powerful. Driven by Maori idolatry, the teenage and youthful crowds joined the Red Guards and launched a mad and violent campaign against Maori and the party’s perceived enemies. In high schools and colleges across the country, teachers and principals were “capitalists” or “stinking intellectuals” who were condemned in so-called fighting sessions, children turned on their parents and accused different parties within the party. There were public beatings and mafia violence, as well as cannibalism. Historians believe that two million people died in the chaos.

Frightened by Mao, the Red Guards attracted people including teachers, as well as parents, by conducting so-called fighting sessions and making public beatings. [File: AP Photo]
Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong’s widow and a ‘Four Gang’ tried as a result of the Cultural Revolution [File: AP Photo]

Tiananmen Square (1989)

CCP version: In the chronicle of 90,000 people in the Party’s first 100 years released last month, the incident read: “Some political incidents arose in Beijing and other cities as a result of an anti-revolutionary incident … The incident was wiped out to pave the way. “. Authorities say no one was killed in Tiananmen Square, where protesters gathered tens of thousands of people into tanks and deployed soldiers armed with bayonets and rifles to demolish the six-week-old camp.

What KZP did not say: Tiananmen Square it was led by university students in the capital and was a movement for corruption and democracy that united the citizens of more than 400 cities in the country, and was sparked by the death of the ousted reformist leader Hu Yaobang. According to analysts, the troops of the People’s Liberation Army killed hundreds of thousands of protesters and wounded thousands more when they cleared the square.

There was Adrian Brown of Al Brown Jazeera, who now lives in Hong Kong. “I saw a lot that day that I will never forget,” he said he wrote in 2019 on the 30th anniversary of the repression. “Two corpses were crushed in a tank, an army transport worker and the body of a soldier inside were burnt.” Wu’er Kaixi, who was in a hospital gown, was confronted by one of the student leaders who confronted Prime Minister Li Peng who said the protesters wanted democracy. “We were expecting some bloodshed, hitting police sticks, maybe. That’s what we expected, “he said.” Intense ammunition? No, never. “

Chinese Human Rights Minister Mi Ling Tsui says it has become a topic in Tiananmen “forced amnesia“.

The party wanted to eradicate what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989 after the military stormed the square to remove pro-democracy protesters who had been encamped for weeks. [File: Catherine Henriette/AFP]

With reports by Violet Law in Hong Kong

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