China Change Logo

You are reading about: Cultural Revolution

Today, we continue our ongoing series on Ai Weiwei’s book, Time and place. A World Without Honor By 2006 China had already tapped Zhang Yimou to direct the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. To Ai this was completely unacceptable, and he decided to devote a rather fiery post to the injustice of this decision. It was  shortly before this that the once daring director had begun to back away from the line. As a friend who had attended film school with Zhang told me, it seemed to her that the gov’t had finally “gotten” him. But Ai’s essay is still relevant today, especially as we sit through two more weeks of Olympics. He says, “Every competition has a winner, and the victorious side always […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 29, 2012   The Shengs were a prominent family in Ningpo. There were the old Shengs and the new Shengs; Mr. Sheng’s family was the old Shengs, landowners for generations. The family residence consisted of ten adjoining quadrangles, the innermost being the ancestor hall where memorial tablets and portraits of ancestors were displayed. I loved to play there the best, said Mr. Sheng, on my family’s visits when I was a little boy, because it was as big as a basketball court and I could run amok there, whereas my older sisters were scared and wouldn’t dare to go. Mr. Sheng’s mother was also from Ningpo, the daughter of a brewery owner. Mr. Sheng’s eldest sister and Sheng Shuren, his […]


Last week I carefully broached the subject of Tian’anmen Square with one of my co-workers. Together we looked through a series of pictures from that day from The Atlantic (excellent), which sparked a very interesting, and yet minimally productive conversation. It was her first time seeing evidence of civilian casualties, and I explained that no one was certain how many students and workers had died in the Square, but most foreign sources say hundreds. With the ongoing violence in Syria (which she is following), this wasn’t an easy idea to accept. So I told her that I had never really heard about June 4th from a Chinese view, and asked her to tell me what it had been like. She said here in Nanjing and in Beijing […]


I received this as an email today and was asked to share it with you all. I am writing this in great fear. Let me explain- All of the things happening with the drama of Chen and Bo haven’t even phased people here as they are still more concerned with surviving in their daily lives. But then today that changed. My boyfriend (a Chinese professor of English) received a strange text message. He sent it to me and was very concerned because we are planning on getting married and moving to the US as soon as possible. The text was in Chinese and my Chinese was too poor to understand all of it so he translated it. It read: an announcement received today from concerned authorities that all leaders and professors […]


Yesterday Yaxue posted a piece entitled “An Angry Father,” in which she asked the question – How can a parent protect their child from the poison of the Party’s propaganda? Yaxue also mentioned the feeling of guilt and anger that she experienced as she told a friend not to interfere with the system for the sake of his child. These two ideas I think deserve closer examination. Poisoned By Propaganda This last week as I visited rural villages in central China, I was struck by the pervasive nature of propaganda. In the countryside slogans were either neatly stenciled on the sides of buildings, or simply scrawled with a paintbrush in the poorest areas. The campaigns seemed relatively harmless, encouraging parents to accept boys and girls […]


Today the pro-Mao (and by extension pro-Bo Xilai) site Utopia announced it would be closed for a month. At the risk of over simplification, this would be like Mitt Romney shutting down Tea Party websites. While one of my co-workers seemed to think that this was “good news,” it’s not the victory for reformers that some might be tempted to claim it is. Too often observers make the mistake of assuming that China is either heading to the left (which in China is the pro-Mao camp) or to the right (reformers), but things are rarely that simple. As other observers have noted, if a site on the right had ventured as far from the permissible realm as Utopia had gone to the left, people would […]


By Hu Ping Mr. Hu Ping (胡平) was a graduate student of philosophy at Peking University in 1980. On campus that fall there was a lively student campaign, and then election, for People’s Representatives of Haidian District in Beijing, an event that has not been seen since. Mr. Hu was one of the candidates. I remember all of a sudden the campus was filled with milling crowds reading posters by the candidates sharing their ideas. Public debates were held, followed by endless chattering around meal times and in the evening hours. After ten bleak years of the Cultural Revolution, the energy was palpable, raw and eruptive. As a freshman still just finding my ways in college life, I understood little of what was going on, […]


Recently I had the chance to discuss the fascinating article, “The Sick Man of Asia” with the doctors at my hospital. The author, Huang Yanzhong, argues that despite China’s seemingly impressive gains in health over the past 60 years, they are lagging behind its economic growth. Furthermore, the author seems to argue that the average Chinese person (as far as health is concerned) saw greater benefits from Mao’s time in power than during Deng, Jiang, and Hu. The author argues that Mao’s regime was able to make large gains because they focused on bringing medicine to rural populations. Huang also shows that the chaos of the Cultural Revolution caused the bureaucratic powers of the Ministry of Health to retreat, while millions of doctors were sent […]


Last week we looked at why the Two Meetings matter, today we’re looking at what this year’s recurring themes were. Equality Since opening up in the 80’s, gov’t resources have been increasingly targeted at creating advanced cities, abandoning the more equitable development that had been encouraged under Mao. Rural China now finds itself with few medical personnel and crumbling schools while their land is sold out from under them by greedy officials. Meanwhile Chinese cities have benefited immensely from the policies, which has created a wealthy class that in some cases spends more on a single meal than many farmers make in a year. This new wealth has helped spark a real-estate boom that has led to the quadrupling of real-estate prices in some cities, moving housing out of […]


By Yaxue Cao The Chinese microblogs are in an uproar about amendments to the country’s Criminal Procedure Law, already passed Sunday afternoon by the 170-member presidium of the National People’s Congress with only one objection and one abstention. It will be voted on by the 3,000 NPC representatives on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. The wide contention focuses on two proposed revisions which allow secret detention and disappearance. They are article 73 and 83. Article 83 provides, in part, that “Upon detaining a suspect, relatives of the detainee shall be notified within 24 hours unless the suspect is allegedly involved in crimes of harming state security, crimes of terrorism, and notifying family may impede investigation. Or when there is no means to notify relatives.” Article 73 […]


Liao Yiwu’s book, God Is Red, is one of the best I have ever read. Liao Yiwu’s work concerning Tian’anmen Square cost him 4-years in prison. His work with the currently imprisoned Nobel prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, caused further restrictions on his freedom in China and led to regular visits from the police. He was told that the publishing of God is Red would be considered a criminal offense. On July 2nd, 2011, he crossed the border into Vietnam, knowing that he would have to sacrifice his connection with his homeland in order to tell the stories of the people who lived there. It started a few years earlier while Liao was working on other projects. He met a number of Chinese Christians and became interested in their […]


This great guest post comes from a friend. Over the next few days she’ll be introducing her research on the Misty Poets. If you are a grad student working on a China related topic please contact Tom about the possibility of introducing here. “Misty”is the title conferred upon a group of poets known during the Democracy Movement (1976-1980)for their unique style. Some, such as Ai Qing, Ai Weiwei’s father, called their work “obscure” (古怪), even poisonous.[1] At the very least, it was certainly daring. So daring, in fact, that three of the leading Misty poets were exiled for inspiring the Tiananmen youth. Misty poet Bei Dao was not even in China when the demonstrations occurred, but he was nonetheless not allowed back for twenty years, […]


China’s tomb raiders laying waste to thousands of years of history, by Tania Branigan. Soaring prices offered by collectors and lax monitoring of China’s thousands of historical sites have led to grave robbing on a massive scale. One researcher estimates that 95% of Chinese tombs have been plundered, and that without sufficient protection it could all be lost in the next 10 years. Chinese authorities and villagers clash over mosque – From around mid-December there have been a number of crackdowns on religious groups in China, with Buddhist, Muslisms and Christians all being effected. This time the clash happened in a Hui region, which is unusual, since Hui have traditionally been tolerated. The children left behind by China’s migrant workers – great photos and an […]


I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season. In this issue, you will find a sample response to President Hu Jintao’s article about malicious cultural infiltration by hostile forces, items about Wukan, how China practices law, why a couple who were dying to see each other had a hard time reuniting, the deluge of confidential user information, and more. Click date below for link to the original.   张鸣 /Zhang Ming/(Professor of political science at People’s University of China)/: Chinese have no American TV to watch, cannot access American websites. Americans are not allowed to open schools in China. On the other hand, China can set up TV, websites and schools in the US. The US has no Great Fire Wall to keep […]


Part of a continuing series of journal article summaries. You can also read my summaries on The regulation of religion in China and Reconsidering the campaign to suppress counter-revolutionaries.   Watchman Nee and the Little Flock Movement in Maoist China                         By: Joseph Tse-Hei Lee (full text PDF) Tom’s Summary: The Little Flock Movement or Christian Assembly, was a loosely connected church movement that was started by Watchman Nee in the 1920’s as a wholly Chinese form of Christianity. It strove to be self-supporting, self-propagating, and self-funded in accordance with three-“self” principles that were popular at the time, and quickly grew as the Chinese public turned more strongly against foreign imperialism. Fundamentally the Little Flock modeled itself after the church depicted […]


The battle of Wukan, and Christian Bale’s trip to visit Chen Guangcheng dominated China related headlines recently, but several other important stories emerged this week: Beijing real-name registration rules for bloggers, bad news for Sina, from the Wall Street Journal, shows that new policies are being set in place that will mark the end of Sina’s reign as the top source of scandals. This is a very worrying turn for freedom of speech in China. China officials shut down outdoor Christmas party, from the Associated Press, shows that Chinese officials have been working overtime to make it on to Santa’s naughty list. This kind of clamp down is common around religious holidays. Gao Zhisheng, missing Chinese lawyer, get new prison term, New York Times, looks […]


This week, all eyes are on Wukan as the world awaits to see how the unprecedented struggle of one Chinese village develops. If Christian Bale didn’t get to see his personal hero on Thursday, he more than succeeded in throwing a hand grenade at the feet of the Party while lighting a firestorm—a joyful one—among Chinese netizens. Friday, we finally heard words from the authorities about Gao Zhisheng after he had gone missing for more than a year and a half. Also in this issue are items taken from Weibo before Yaxue’s account was obliterated earlier this week (possibly for helping spread information about Wukan). Click on date below item for link to the original. I have had a growing dread all week and it […]


Yesterday’s review of “Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries,” is important reading not only to better understand the terror and hysteria of the Mao years, but to understand the way in which the past effects the psyche of Chinese people today. Three bits from the article have been cycling through my mind since yesterday: that in some areas nearly 80% of the people accused were later exonerated, 30% of those whose death sentences were not absolutely necessary were executed anyway, and that even in my former home of Longzhou, which is tiny by Chinese standards, at least 40  people were executed. These three pieces show that the campaign was largely used as a source of revenge against otherwise innocent people, and that this campaign reached […]


As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays draw near, we often imagine Norman Rockwell-esque gatherings. Elaborate and delicious meals, the sounds of convivial conversation, the feeling of warmth that comes from time spent with family. I think for most of us, it is these things that come to mind, even if we haven’t personally experienced these things in our own lives. We imagine a time in the past when things were better, and from that false memory, complain about the present. I’ve noticed that among my Chinese friends, the topic of discussion has been more frequently focused on China’s current woes. The other day, one co-worker was disgusted by the deaths of over 20 children in a school bus crash, and the other one talked in […]


When I hosted a group of European visitors the other day, one of them asked a question that I think many of you might have been wondering about, “What happened to China’s historical buildings?” Considering the historical centers of many European cities, it’s an understandable question. Note: Some of China’s best known cities like Xi’an and Beijing have a number of ancient buildings given that they are historic capitals, but throughout the country they are considerably harder to find. The Communists destroyed it The Party is often the scapegoat when it comes to explaining many of the choices made in modern China. In this case, not entirely without reason, Chinese temples and artifacts were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, but other works were well preserved. However, […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: October 15, 2011   Earlier this year, I interviewed two people in China and wrote the story of a man called Sheng Shuren (盛树人). He studied journalism in St. John University in Shanghai around 1940, and worked for English publications and then for the British Consulate. After 1949, he moved to Beijing to work for the Xinhua News Agency. His trouble began almost immediately and, by the end of the 1950s, he was a prisoner at a labor camp. Later he was sent back to Shanghai, his hometown, where he was denied residence registration, divorced by his wife, had no job, and lived with his aging mother. He taught English stealthily to support himself and died in 1976 at fifty-six years old. […]


It’s no secret that China is a massive country that is changing at incredible speeds, and so it seems that even 5 days a week isn’t enough to cover everything that is happening in the middle kingdom. So I am very pleased to announce the launch SeeingRedInChina.com’s weekend section. It will have posts focusing on (mis)adventures in China, a brief round-up of the week’s news stories with a brief explanation of why they matter, as well as opinion pieces, guest posts, and hopefully some interviews. My good friend Casey will be kicking things off on Saturday as he starts to tell the story of his first trip to China, and his time spent working in what has to be the absolute worst school in China. […]


Continuing to look at some of my favorite parts of living in China, is the fact that there is history everywhere. Thanks to the Cultural Revolution, civil-wars, and thousands of years of tearing down the old to make room for the new, it is fairly safe to say that China has lost more history than the US has. We weren’t even a country until half way through China’s final dynasty (the Qing). So living in a place where I pass a 600-year-old buildings on a daily basis is great. The tiny town of Longzhou where I first lived was an excellent example of how even present day backwaters can have an interesting history (Here it is on Google Maps). There was a kind of joke […]


My Chinese friend Grace is about the last person you would picture when you think about dissidents. She’s happily married to a doctor who doesn’t drink or smoke. She is pregnant with her second healthy (and perfectly legal) baby. She has a college education and a good job by Chinese standards. Grace doesn’t like reading the news, and refers to the Cultural Revolution as “some unpleasant times that aren’t good to talk about.” Her family is firmly part of China’s new middle class. She isn’t an artist or a lawyer, she doesn’t know how to get past the great firewall (even though she wants to), and she definitely wouldn’t be considered an intellectual (she’s not stupid, but she avoids reading and writing at pretty much […]


Yesterday we looked at the traditional idea of family in China through most of its history. Today we look at the changes that have taken place in the last six decades as China has gone through the Cultural Revolution and opened itself to the world. Maoist China to Modern day Mao saw the clan and the family as institutions that kept the peasants oppressed so he issued several policies to break down the family structure. Families were made to eat in cafeterias; which meant no home needed a kitchen, children were raised in daycare centers instead of being looked after by relatives, parents were cremated instead of buried, and the ancestor tablets (family records) and ancestral halls were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution. Mao’s attempts […]


vertical_align_top
Support our work

At China Change, a few dedicated staff bring you information about human rights, rule of law, and civil society in China. We want to help you understand aspects of China’s political landscape that are the most censored and least understood. We are a 501(c)(3) organization, and your contribution is tax-deductible. For offline donation, or donor receipt policy, check our “Become a Benefactor” page. Thank you.


Follow Us

Stats
Total Pageviews:
  • 1,345,699
Read in:
216 countries and territories