China Time

‘This thematic grouping concentrates on issues related to Chinese history since the mid-Qing era (1750s), China’s last “prosperous age” (shengshi 盛世). It is also concerned with issues related to historical memory, revivals, changing national and local identities, heritage, reform and revolution. In disciplinary terms this theme links to history, political science, heritage studies, cultural studies and critical inquiry.’

Numbers and the Great Famine

Lin Zhibo, the head of the Gansu Province branch of the People’s Daily, maintains an active Sina microblog account to which he posts comments on international relations and the question of SOE privatization, among other issues. He touched off a minor microblog storm just before the May Holiday with a post dismissing the idea that there had been a raft of deaths from starvation in the early 1960s:

Some people, to defile Chairman Mao, use the exaggerated slander of tens of millions of people dying of starvation between 1960 and 1962. And thus someone visited many of the villages in Henan and Anhui that were hardest-hit by the famine in those years, and the situation was nothing like what people slander it as. The locals had only heard of people dying of starvation, but had not personally witnessed any such deaths, and very few people can be directly confirmed to have starved to death.

Lin’s post was forwarded nearly 7,000 times and received over 5,000 comments, most of them critical, in the next four hours. ‘Raise your hand if you starved to death!’ was a typical snarky response, although some commenters observed that none of their family or acquaintances were personally aware of famine deaths in that era. Lin doubled-down, saying that he’d never heard from anyone who had family members die, and that if whole towns died off with no eyewitnesses left, ‘wouldn’t that mean hundreds of millions dead?’ Lin’s posts were later removed.

Some commenters drew parallels to denials of the Nanjing Massacre by Japan’s ultra-right wing, which similarly minimized the total deaths based on a lack of first-hand evidence. Historian Yuan Weishi advised Lin to ‘read more books and go to fewer dinners,’ and mentioned Yang Jishen’s Tombstone as essential reading for anyone who wants to discuss the famine.

Lin Zhibo eventually posted an apology, citing the conclusion given in ‘Seventy Years of the Chinese Communist Party’ (1991) that the population shrank by 10 million as a result of the grave errors of the Great Leap Forward and the People’s Commune Movement, and then deleted the post and replaced it with a more general apology that blamed a lack of awareness of the time period for his misguided remarks. Lin’s apology drew even more criticism from commenters who wondered how someone whose undergraduate education was in history, and who pursued further studies in party and military history, could be ignorant of the events of that era.

References:

  • 林治波的微博: 有人为了糟蹋毛主席 (2012-04-29)
  • 飘过蓝天的浮云的微博: 林治波,山东文登人,1963年出生 (2012-04-30)
  • 孤独得农民的微博: @袁腾飞 老师说过, (2012-04-30)
  • 袁伟时的微博: 甘肃新华社林社长应该少应酬,多读书! (2012-04-30)
  • 古火拉兹-五毛: 又有人开始炒饿死三千万的事。 (2012-4-30)
  • 林治波的微博: “由于出生率大幅度下降, (2012-04-30)
  • 林治波的微博: 道歉:我对大跃进那段历史缺乏研究 (2012-05-01)
  • 韩松的博客: 林治波事件与医疗卫生体制改革 (2012-05-01)

 

Reenactment of a Qing-dynasty ceremony draws criticism

Netease published a collection of photos showing women dressed in Qing costumes in an reenactment of silkworm worshipping ceremony. Though ceremonies like this are intended to be attract tourists, it doesn’t seem to please everyone. The comments on the website shows that lots of people find the ceremony distasteful and even offending to their nationalistic sensitivity.

References:

  • 网易新闻: 清代女性祭典“祭蚕盛典”重现北京 (2012-4-19)

Memoir of a code clerk for the KMT

New Express ran a first-person account by Wang Qinglian 王庆莲 of her experiences serving as a code clerk with the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics for three years in the mid-1940s. Wang was recruited in 1943, and like bureau head Dai Li and many of the other members was from Jiangshan, Zhejiang. She dishes about Dai Li, his successor Mao Renfeng, and general Jiang Yiying 姜毅英, her superior officer and rival, and then describes her ordeals through the various political campaigns post liberation. She says she’s never talked about these issues before, and ends up thanking the party for counting her twenty-three years on a reeducation farm toward her pension. At 85, she says she’s the last BIS member remaining on the mainland.

The newspaper’s report was inspired by a longer piece, ‘The Autobiography of Wang Qinglian,’ recorded at the end of 2011 by Fang Jun, a writer documenting the stories of participants in the Anti-Japanese War.

References:

  • 新快报: 大陆最后一个军统女特务 (2012-03-20)
  • 访最后的抗战老兵: 最后一位抗战时期军统女译电员 (2012-02-17)

New book from Propaganda Department: ‘Theorizing cultural construction: A collection of important expositions’

The latest issue of Seeking Truth 求是 includes an article by Liu Yunshan 刘云山, the director of China’s Central Propaganda / Publicity Department, introducing a book outlining the policies on cultural development emerging from October 2011 Sixth Plenum of the Seventeenth Central Committee.

China Media Project summarized the contents of the article:

1. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the status and role of cultural construction, firmly establishing a high-level consciousness and confidence in culture. [Basically, outlines China’s strategic need for not just ‘material’ strength but also ‘spiritual’ strength].

2. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the goals in the struggle for cultural construction, and the objective of firmly building a strong socialist cultural nation.

3. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the guiding principles of cultural construction, constantly expanding the breadth and prospects on the road of cultural development under socialism with Chinese characteristics (中国特色社会主义文化发展)

4. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the fundamental tasks of cultural construction, energetically promoting the building of the socialist core value system (社会主义核心价值体系).

5. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the impetus driving cultural development (文化发展动力), promoting the flourishing development of culture with a spirit of reform and innovation.

6. Deeply understanding the important ideas of our Party concerning the basic [ways of] ensuring cultural construction, promoting cultural reform and development in line with the strengthening and improvement of the Party’s leadership.

References:

  • 求实杂志: 深入学习党的文化建设理论 推动十七届六中全会精神贯彻落实 (2012-03-01)

Liang Sicheng’s Beijing courtyard demolished

From Xinhua:

In the 1950s, his plan to prevent modern development in the ancient city of Beijing was nipped.

Three decades after his death, famous architect Liang Sicheng’s former courtyard home in downtown Chinese capital met the same fate.

Liang’s ‘siheyuan,’ the traditional courtyard home, was reportedly bulldozed by a real estate developer on Thursday [January 26, 2012] in the name of preservation.

The former rectangle brick structure in Beizongbu hutong where Liang and his also architect wife Lin Huiyin (Phyllis Lin) resided and started the unprecedented profiling of ancient Chinese architecture during the 1930s was reduced to piles of rubble surrounding a lone wooden gate.

The government said Saturday that the demolition was not approved by the cultural heritage authorities and officials would investigate and deal with the case in accordance of the law.

References:

  • Sina.com: 北京东城区称将查处违规拆除梁林故居行为 (2012-01-28)
  • People’s Daily English / Xinhua: Famous traditional courtyard bulldozed (2012-01-29)
  • Bloomberg: On Chinese New Year, Beijing Loses Part of Its Memory (2012-02-03)

‘The Flowers of War’ as pro-US propaganda

He Qing, a professor at Zhejiang University and a critic of western culture’s incursions into China, published an essay in the Global Times attacking Zhang Yimou’s Nanjing massacre movie The Flowers of War for distorting history and glorifying the United States. He argues that the US did nothing to help China resist the Japanese invasion during the 1930s, and even the famous Flying Tigers had far less of a presence in China than is widely believed. He also criticizes the film for appropriating the heroic acts of soldiers during the war in Korea to use in its portrayal of Nationalist soldiers in Nanjing.

He Qing posted an expanded version of his essay to the Utopia BBS. Material cut by the Global Times: a summary of the assistance offered to China by Nazi Germany, a charge that the US was responsible for 163,200 of the 300,000 deaths in the Nanjing massacre due to the raw materials the US provided to Japan, and a complaint that Korean War heroics are underrepresented in TV dramas. He Qing’s full version concludes with a warning: ‘The United States is the most hypocritical and dangerous imperialist in the world today, and is China’s most dangerous enemy.’

References:

  • 环球时报: 河清:《金陵十三钗》背后的真实美国 (2012-01-05)
  • 乌有之乡: 南京大屠杀有美国一份 ——美国援日侵华,苏德援华抗日 (2012-01-05)

 

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