The dictator is enjoying a surge of popularity. But the rise of this neo-Maoist movement could upend China’s stability.
Jamil Anderlini writes: A heavy pall of pollution hangs over Tiananmen Square and from a distance the giant portrait of Mao Zedong above the entrance to the Forbidden City looks a little smudged. It is 8am and the temperature in central Beijing is already approaching 30C.
But the heat and smog are no deterrent to the thousands of people waiting in hour-long queues to pay respects to the preserved body of the “great helmsman”. Since his death 40 years ago, Chairman Mao’s corpse — or, more likely, a wax replica — has been on display in a purpose-built mausoleum in the geographic and figurative heart of the Chinese capital. Well over 200 million people have visited.
In the west, Mao is understood chiefly as China’s “Red Emperor” — a vicious dictator who fostered an extreme personality cult, launched the disastrous Cultural Revolution and masterminded a “Great Leap Forward” that resulted in the worst famine in history. Experts estimate that Mao was responsible for between 40 million and 70 million deaths in peacetime — more than Hitler and Stalin combined.
However, while Hitler, Stalin and most of the other totalitarian dictators of the 20th century were repudiated after their deaths, Mao remains a central figure in modern China. The Communist party he helped found in 1921 and the authoritarian Leninist political system he established in 1949 still run the country. “Mao Zedong Thought” is enshrined in the party’s constitution and, since 1999, his face has adorned most banknotes (something he refused to allow during his lifetime).
But this whitewashing of Mao’s legacy is a risky strategy. Thanks to the party’s tight control over education, media and all public discourse, most people in China know very little of Mao’s terrible mistakes. Indeed, the dictator is more popular today than at any time since his death. Last year nearly 17 million people made pilgrimages to his home town — Shaoshan — in rural central China. In the mid-1980s, barely 60,000 undertook the journey.
China has also seen the rise of a vocal political movement of “neo-Maoists” — militant leftists who espouse many of the utopian egalitarian ideas that China’s current leaders have largely abandoned. These neo-Maoists are by definition an underground movement, which makes it very difficult to estimate their numbers, but public petitions sympathetic to their cause have garnered tens of thousands of signatures in recent years.
Several experts believe a neo-Maoist candidate would probably win a general election in China today, should free elections ever be allowed. This means the movement could enjoy the sympathy of hundreds of millions of China’s 1.4 billion people. As such, it poses one of the biggest threats facing the authoritarian system in the world’s most populous nation today.
“Speed up comrades, walk forward,” a young man in a clean white shirt with a bullhorn yells at the tourists lined up in Tiananmen Square, many of whom bow three times before a large Mao statue as they enter the mausoleum. Visitors are not allowed to take photos and tall paramilitary officers shoo people along, ensuring nobody gets more than a quick glimpse of the figure wrapped in the hammer and sickle flag and laid out in a crystal coffin behind a glass wall. Just a kilometre away is the heavily guarded compound where China’s current leaders work and live.
“Chairman Mao was a truly great man but this is not the country he dreamt of, this is not real communism.”
Many of the people visiting Mao’s remains have been left behind by China’s economic boom in recent decades. They see Mao as a symbol of a simpler, fairer society — a time when everyone was poorer but at least they were equally poor. Those who have studied the resurgence in Mao’s popularity in China see it as part of a broader global phenomenon that encompasses the appeal of Donald Trump in the US, Brexit in the UK and populist politicians on the left and right in Europe. At a time of sharp dislocation and intense resentment towards elites, people in many countries are attracted by nostalgia and tradition. For ordinary people in China, that means Mao and the classless society he envisioned. Read the rest of this entry »
Hot Chili Peppers, War, and Sichuan Cuisine
The first mention of the chili pepper in the Chinese historical record appears in 1591, although historians have yet to arrive at a consensus as to exactly how it arrived in the Middle Kingdom.
Andrew Leonard writes: In 1932, the Soviet Union sent one of its best agents to China, a former schoolteacher and counter-espionage expert from Germany named Otto Braun. His mission was to serve as a military adviser to the Chinese Communists, who were engaged in a desperate battle for survival against Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists.
“Eating chili peppers is like riding a roller coaster. It delivers a rush of danger and pleasure.”
The full story of Braun’s misadventures in China’s Communist revolution is packed with enough twists and turns for a Hollywood thriller. But in the domain of culinary history, one anecdote from Braun’s autobiography stands out. Braun recalls his first impressions of Mao Zedong, the man who would go on to become China’s paramount leader.
“The Sichuanese are fiery. They fight fast and love fast and they like their food to be like them—hot.”
The shrewd peasant organizer had a mean, even “spiteful” streak. “For example, for a long time I could not accustom myself to the strongly spiced food, such as hot fried peppers, which is traditional to southern China, especially in Hunan, Mao’s birthplace.” The Soviet agent’s tender taste buds invited Mao’s mockery. “The food of the true revolutionary is the red pepper,” declared Mao. “And he who cannot endure red peppers is also unable to fight.’ ”
Maoist revolution is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when your tongue is burning from a mouthful of Kung Pao chicken or Mapo Tofu at your favorite Chinese restaurant. But the unlikely connection underscores the remarkable history of the chili pepper.
For years culinary detectives have been on the chili pepper’s trail, trying to figure out how a New World import became so firmly rooted in Sichuan, a landlocked province on the southwestern frontier of China. “It’s an extraordinary puzzle,” says Paul Rozin, a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, who has studied the cultural evolution and psychological impact of foods, including the chili pepper.
Food historians have pointed to the province’s hot and humid climate, the principles of Chinese medicine, the constraints of geography, and the exigencies of economics. Most recently neuropsychologists have uncovered a link between the chili pepper and risk-taking. The research is provocative because the Sichuan people have long been notorious for their rebellious spirit; some of the momentous events in modern Chinese political history can be traced back to Sichuan’s hot temper.
As Wu Dan, the manager of a hotpot restaurant in Chengdu, Sichuan’s capital, told a reporter: “The Sichuanese are fiery. They fight fast and love fast and they like their food to be like them—hot.”
The chili pepper, genus capsicum, is indigenous to the tropics, where archaeological records indicate it has been cultivated and consumed perhaps as far back as 5000 B.C. Typically a perennial shrub bearing red or green fruit, it can be grown as an annual in regions where temperatures reach freezing in the winter. There are five domesticated species, but most of the chili peppers consumed in the world belong to just two, Capsicum annuum and Capsicum frutescens.
“The food of the true revolutionary is the red pepper. And he who cannot endure red peppers is also unable to fight.”
— Mao Zedong
The active ingredient in chili peppers is a compound called capsaicin. When ingested, capsaicin triggers pain receptors whose normal evolutionary purpose is to alert the body to dangerous physical heat. The prevailing theory is the chili pepper’s burn is a trick to dissuade mammals from eating it, because the mammalian digestive process normally destroys chili pepper seeds, preventing further propagation. Birds—which do not destroy chili pepper seeds during digestion—have no analogous receptors. When a bird eats a chili pepper, it doesn’t feel a thing, excretes the seeds, and spreads the plant.
The word “chili” comes from the Nahuatl family of languages, spoken, most famously, by the Aztecs. (One early Spanish translation of the word was “el miembro viril”—tantalizing early evidence of the chili pepper’s inherent machismo.) Botanists believe the chili pepper originated in southwest Brazil or south central Bolivia, but by the 15th century, birds and humans had spread it throughout South and Central America.
Enter Christopher Columbus. On Jan. 1, 1493, the great explorer recorded in his diary his discovery, on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, that “the pepper which the local Indians used as spice is more abundant and more valuable than either black or melegueta pepper [an African spice from the ginger family].”
In the 15th century, Spain and Portugal were obsessed with finding sea routes to the spice markets of Asia that would allow them to break the monopoly wielded by Arab traders over access to hot commodities like black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Although Columbus was utterly wrong in his belief that he had sailed to India, he still succeeded in locating precisely what he had been seeking. Read the rest of this entry »
Force backs down after being accused of trying to whitewash the city’s history and role played by pro-Beijing radicals.
Christy Leung reports: The Hong Kong police force has made an unexpected climbdown and is restoring its official account of the 1967 riots after causing a storm earlier this year by deleting parts of it.
A source told the Post the missing details would be reinstated on its archived website as early as Friday, and more historical details would be added to make the account “fuller”.
The U-turn was decided at a meeting of the Police Historical Records Committee yesterday.
It reverses a controversial move in mid-September to revise the official version of the riots, during which pro-Beijing radicals inspired by the Cultural Revolution sought to overthrow the colonial government.
The force replaced phrases like “communist militia” with “gunmen” and deleted detailed descriptions of events such as leftist mobs threatening bus and tram drivers who refused to strike.
Police were accused of trying to whitewash history out of political considerations. They were also ridiculed for claiming there was not enough space to publish full details online.
“[We are uploading the original version] to answer our readers’ calls and have no political agenda behind it,” the source explained yesterday.
“We think people nowadays are not into reading bulky and long paragraphs, but since they enjoy reading the full version, we are bringing it back.”
In addition to the original write-up, the history of women in the force and the Hong Kong Police College will be added to the website.
“We want to make the contents ‘finer’ and ‘fuller’, so that people can have a better understanding of police history,” the source said.
It is understood the committee is still reviewing the content and may upload the original version along with the new information on January 1 at the earliest. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s Bizarre Maoist Spectacle: Final Nail in the Coffin for the Cuckoo Bananas Labour Party?Posted: December 19, 2015
John McDonnell audaciously brandished a copy of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell dropped a political bombshell in the House of Commons What was it over? A book. Not just any book, mind. A book conveying a philosophy that is most certainly taboo in British politics. A book that was none other than Mao Zedong’s very own ‘Little Red Book’. The commotion caused by it was far from little, however.
The immediate reactions of everyone in the House of Commons were indeed telling. The Conservatives were overjoyed. It was an early Christmas present for them. Many MPs were chorusing “more! more!” On the Labour side of the hall, some found it amusing; yet it clearly stirred up much discontent. Even Deputy Leader Tom Watson, who could be seen sat beside McDonnell at the time, had a faint look of despair as this historic book was pulled out; which is, to some extent, the scriptures, or holy book, of the far left.
Clearly it was done as a mere jest, and nothing more than a humoured attack at Chancellor George Osborne – who he ironically labelled “Comrade Osborne” – in criticism for his approach to Britain’s relations with China. His direct quote from Chairman Mao was as follows:
“We must learn to do economic work from all who know how. No matter who they are, we must esteem them as teachers, learning from them respectfully and conscientiously. But we must not pretend to know what we do not know.”
Yet it is an unsuitable affiliation. Surely you’d expect something like this from the Communist Party of Great Britain themselves; not from a serious opposition party vying to win power in modern-day Britain – where Thatcherism still lingers and private property is still at large.
Most Marxists I have ever associated with would actually distance themselves from Mao Zedong: a dictator of the People’s Republic of China, responsible for the deaths of millions of his own civilians – from famine and executing those against the rule. Even if you are going to cite a Communist figure at all in British politics, better to use a figure such as Lenin or Trotsky; not a brutal mass-murdering despot.
Many feel content with a more narrow view of politics. Even if it isn’t one that directly mirrors the Conservative party’s ideology, it wouldn’t drift too far from this. Hence by both the Conservative party and the then-austerity-favouring Labour party gained 330 and 232 seats respectively (562 out of 650 overall) in the General Election last May. Many predict the latter figure, which is that of Labour of course, will be trimmed away if trends stay the same. Read the rest of this entry »
Mass trolling of government Weibo accounts, once common, has become rare in recent years as authorities have tightened their grip on the platform.
Josh Chin reports: With China’s guardians of taste cracking down on everything from televised cleavage to the lyrics of Taiwanese rapper MC Hotdog, Chinese Internet users were provided with alternate entertainment this week: watching the country’s culture ministry get eviscerated on social media.
“You manage what we read, what we watch on TV, what movies we see, what we do online, when we drive our cars, what we say, but you don’t manage the quality of our food or housing, our health, or our children’s ability to attend school. Everything you should manage, you don’t and what you shouldn’t manage, you do!”
The Ministry of Culture, which is responsible for the protection and promotion of Chinese traditional culture, launched its official account on the popular social-media platform Weibo Thursday and almost immediately it found itself drenched by a firehose of vitriol. Three messages posted to the feed since Thursday afternoon had attracted over 100,000 comments a day later, most of them unfavorable or outright hostile.
“You manage what we read, what we watch on TV, what movies we see, what we do online, when we drive our cars, what we say, but you don’t manage the quality of our food or housing, our health, or our children’s ability to attend school,” read one comment that attracted more than 23,000 likes. “Everything you should manage, you don’t and what you shouldn’t manage, you do!”
The account was launched on the same day that the official Xinhua news agency released the full text of a landmark speech on arts and literature delivered by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The speech, delivered at a symposium last October, laid out a vision of artists serving the state that closely resembled cultural policies outlined by Mao Zedong seven decades earlier.
Mass trolling of government Weibo accounts, once common, has become rare in recent years as authorities have tightened their grip on the platform. The response reflected widespread frustration with increased censorship and cultural tightening under Mr. Xi, including harsher restrictions online that led to the banning of several popular foreign TV shows and cartoons. Read the rest of this entry »
The police have deleted (seen on top graphic) and modified part of the “police history” of the 1967 riots on their website.
The 1967 riots during May to December were started by leftists in Hong Kong following a labour dispute in a San Po Kong factory, after the Cultural Revolution in China started. During the year 8,074 suspected bombs were planted, of which 1,167 were real bombs; At least 51 people died during the riots, including ten police officers, and 802 were injured.
Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online.
Felicia Sonmez reports: A well-known Chinese TV personality who joked about revolutionary leader Mao Zedong behind closed doors will face “serious” punishment, according to state-run media, months after a video of the remarks went viral online.
Bi Fujian, a popular satirist and China Central Television host, came under fire in April when a video of him mocking the Communist Party leader during a private dinner was mysteriously leaked online. Mr. Bi swiftly apologized, but CCTV suspended him from his job and announced that it would be investigating the incident, which it said had “led to grave social consequences.”
“Before a word leaves your mouth, you are its master. Afterwards, it is your master. You can pull a nail out from a board, but it’s impossible to take a word back once it has been uttered.”
— Weibo user
Little has been heard about Mr. Bi’s case in the months since. But on Sunday, a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party’s internal watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, sternly warned that authorities view the host’s quip as no laughing matter.
“…this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline.”
— China Discipline and Supervision Daily
“(Party authorities) believe that this is not just an ordinary disciplinary problem but rather a serious violation of political discipline,” the aptly-named China Discipline and Supervision Daily wrote, adding that Mr. Bi’s case would be “seriously dealt with.” It did not give further details.
The episode comes as China’s top media regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, is tightening control over the TV industry with a series of new regulations aimed at keeping presenters and content in line with “socialist core values.” Read the rest of this entry »
‘Like a beam of incorruptible sunlight, touching our hearts’
Josh Chin and Chun Han Wong report: When China is truly proud of something, it writes a song. During the Cultural Revolution, the oil workers who helped turn China into a crude exporter got their own song. More recently, China’s aircraft carrier and the relationship between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife have been lauded with jingles.
This week, China’s Internet censors got their own musical tribute — or, rather, they wrote one for themselves.
According to a report posted Thursday to the website of the state-run China Youth Daily, the Cyberspace Administration of China choral group this week unveiled a new song, “Cyberspace Spirit,” glorifying the cleanliness and clarity of China’s uniquely managed Internet.
The song, an orchestral march built around a chorus that proclaims China’s ambition to become an “Internet power,” opens with lyrics describing celestial bodies keeping careful watch over the sky. From there, the lyrics conjure more vivid imagery, comparing the Internet to “a beam of incorruptible sunlight” that unites “the powers of life from all creation.”
The Cyberspace Administration of China is the government agency in charge of managing the country’s Internet, including the complex filtering system known as the Great Firewall.
Recently, the government has grown bolder in advocating China’s brand of Internet management. In November, it hosted a World Internet Conference in the eastern canal town of Wuzhen, where Lu Wei, the minister in charge of CAC, promoted the need for rules on the Internet. A few months later, another official surprised some by openly praising China’s censorship system for helping foster Chinese tech companies….(read more)
Below is China Real Time’s rough translation of the lyrics:
在这片天空日月忠诚的守望 Keeping faithful watch under this sky, the Sun and the Moon
为日出东方使命担当 Undertaking this mission for the break of dawn [in the East]
创新每个日子拥抱着清朗 Creating, embracing everyday clarity and brightness
像一束廉洁阳光感动在心上 Like a beam of incorruptible sunlight, touching our hearts
团结万物生长的力量 Uniting the powers of life from all creation
奉献地球村成为最美的风光 Offerings to the global village become the most beautiful of scenery
网络强国 网在哪光荣梦想在哪 Internet Power! The Web is where glorious dreams are
网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家 Internet Power! From the distant cosmos to the home we long for
网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华 Internet Power! Tell the world that the China Dream is lifting Greater China to prominence
网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家 Internet Power! One self represents the nation to the world
在这个世界百川忠诚寻归海洋 In this world, all rivers loyally seek to return to the sea
担当中华文明的丈量 Bearing the measure of Chinese civilization
五千年沉淀点亮创新思想 5,000 years settle and give light to creative new thinking
廉洁就是一个民族清澈荡漾 Incorruptibility is the clear rippling of a nation
我们团结在天地中央 We unite at the center of Heaven and Earth Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing Officials Pressure International Media
Daniel Wiser writes: China pressured international media outlets to censor their news coverage last year in addition to cracking down on domestic journalists, according to a new report.
“Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, and London lodged direct complaints with senior editors, in an apparent effort to pressure them into restraining their reporters in Beijing. The Tokyo headquarters of Japanese media have received similar visits.”
Conditions for both domestic journalists and foreign correspondents in China have worsened considerably under President Xi . Journalists surveyed last year said they were increasingly subjected to harassment by authorities, sometimes violent in nature, as well as to visa delays and cyber attacks. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which released its annual report on press freedoms in China on Monday, said intimidation from officials in Beijing has now extended to foreign outlets.
Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, London, and Tokyo all reportedly pressured editors at publications based in those cities to alter their coverage and exert more control over their reporters in Beijing.
’For activists, the internet is like dancing in shackles’
— Su Yutong
One Chinese blogger, Su Yutong, was fired from the German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle last August after she alleged that directors at the outlet met with the Chinese ambassador and then told their Chinese-language staff to tone down its coverage. A Deutsche Welle spokesman said at the time that Su was terminated because “she tweeted about internal issues” in a manner that “no company in the world would tolerate.”
Deutsche Welle gave more prominence last year to columnists such as Frank Sieren, a Beijing-based media consultant who has business interests in the country and is known to be sympathetic to its leadership. The broadcaster has been criticized in the past for coverage that was overly supportive of the Chinese Communist Party.
IFJ specifically named three other overseas news services that were targeted by the Chinese government.
“At least three media companies—namely France 24, ARD TV (Germany), and the Financial Times—came under unusual Chinese government pressure after publishing news reports that angered the Chinese authorities,” the report said. “Chinese embassy officials in Paris, Berlin, and London lodged direct complaints with senior editors, in an apparent effort to pressure them into restraining their reporters in Beijing. The Tokyo headquarters of Japanese media have received similar visits.”
IFJ also condemned the repression of journalists covering Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests last fall. At least 39 reporters were harassed, detained, or assaulted by the city’s police or by demonstrators opposed to the pro-democracy movement…(read more)
The following is a blog post written by a Chinese journalist Su Yutong about her experience and feeling of being an activist calling for social change in China. Although to be an activist even on the Internet is like “dancing in shackles” in China, clearly people will not stop, just as what we have seen in the most recent days. Many people have been actively posting, forwarding and translating related information, raising more international awareness of Guangcheng’s case. Su said in her writing, “To the Chinese people, danger comes not from action, but from silence and submission. Rights activists such as Hu Jia and Chen Guangcheng have demonstrated this to us with their courage and action, and I would like to learn from them.”
When I was in China, I was a journalist. But, after four years, I decided to resign as the Chinese authorities did not allow us to report the truth. I then started to work in an NGO, doing research on social issues.
My concerns included the situation of victims of contaminated water sources, people who contracted HIV/AIDS through blood transfusion, as well as assisting vulnerable groups in defending their rights.
I was one of the more active internet activists, giving my views on public affairs, disseminating information and organizing activities.
From 2005, I was “invited for tea”, and for “chats”, kept under surveillance and periodically placed under house arrest in China.
In 2010, I distributed “Li Peng’s Diary”, a book forbidden by the authorities, and had my home raided and property confiscated by the police. With the help of international NGOs and friends, I managed to go into exile and now live in Germany.
For many bloggers in China, the most common and typical situation you face on a daily basis is all your content is suddenly deleted. In worse situations, sites will block opinions that are deemed to be “sensitive”.
I was an early internet activist. I organized a protest against the Vice Minister Wu Hao of the Yunnan Provincial Propaganda Department, in solidarity with human rights lawyer Ni Yulan; commemorative activities in relation to the Tiananmen crackdown and actions of solidarity with other activists. Read the rest of this entry »
BEIJING—Acknowledging that its current programs are insufficient to meet the needs of a fast-paced, 21st-century population, the Chinese Ministry of Justice held a press conference Friday affirming its commitment to fixing the nation’s crumbling reeducation system.
“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents. We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”
According to government officials, the steady decline in the quality of reeducation is evidenced by the system’s serious overcrowding, dilapidated correctional facilities, and outdated propaganda materials, which have left a large percentage of China’s political prisoners unprepared for life as obedient citizens.
“For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”
“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents,” said justice minister Wu Aiying, lamenting that many institutions currently rely on standardized reprogramming curriculums that haven’t been updated since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. “We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”
“The last thing we want is for state prisoners to fall behind and end up getting stuck in the system for several extra years. If we get them out there, we know they can thrive as pliant mouthpieces for the Communist Party.”
“It is crucial that we find ways to attract the best instructors to our facilities, the devoted ones who aren’t just in it for the paycheck,” Wu added. “For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”
Speaking candidly with reporters, several top Justice Ministry officials admitted that the majority of reeducators do not actively engage with China’s largest generation of prisoners to date, noting that most instructors lack passion and enthusiasm for their daily thought-suppression and punishment sessions. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s state propaganda machine is seizing Friday’s 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping‘s birth to highlight similarities between President Xi Jinping and the paramount leader who set the country on the road to economic prosperity while crushing dissent.
A heavyweight official biography of Deng was published this week, and Chinese television viewers are being regaled with a 48-episode dramatisation of his life, broadcast nationwide in primetime.
“The contribution by Comrade Deng Xiaoping not only changed the historic destiny of the Chinese people but also changed the course of the world’s history.”
— President Xi Jinping
But the series only covers the eight years up to 1984, avoiding much of the tumult of the Cultural Revolution and, crucially, stopping five years before he ordered the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
“Xi is essentially trying to get back to the Deng spirit of being reformist on the economy and orthodox on the politics.”
— John Delury, an expert on modern Chinese history at Yonsei University in Seoul
An unusual Chinese comic-book adaptation of the original Star Wars film has been unearthed by a US academic, it is reported.
There is a vague Cold War feel about the comic book published in Guangzhou in 1980, while some of the characters are Chinese in appearance. The palm-sized picture book follows the plot of the 1977 George Lucas classic, but bears striking visual differences from it. The film was not actually shown in Chinese cinemas, so artists had to rely on their imagination or possibly promo materials to create the book.
At the time, China was still culturally isolated from the West, emerging from the Cultural Revolution that had just ended, says Maggie Greene, the assistant history professor at Montana State University who found the book. In a blog post, Greene says she stumbled across it at a book fair at a tranquil Confucian temple in Shanghai.
The book is in the format of a so-called lianhuanhua – small picture storybooks published in vast quantities in China in the 20th Century and often used for propaganda purposes by the Chinese government. “It was simply so incongruous I couldn’t leave it behind. It also cost about a dollar,” she writes. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Totten writes: Che Guevara has the most effective public relations department on earth. The Argentine guerrilla and modern Cuba’s co-founding father has been fashioned into a hipster icon, a counter-cultural hero, an anti-establishment rebel, and a champion of the poor. As James Callaghan once put it, “A lie can be halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on.”
The truth about Che now has its boots on. He helped free Cubans from the repressive Batista regime, only to enslave them in a totalitarian police state worst than the last. He was Fidel Castro’s chief executioner, a mass-murderer who in theory could have commanded any number of Latin American death squads, from Peru’s Shining Path on the political left to Guatemala’s White Hand on the right.
“Just as Jacobin Paris had Louis Antoine de Saint-Just,” wrote French historian Pascal Fontaine, “revolutionary Havana had Che Guevara, a Latin American version of Nechaev, the nineteenth century nihilist terrorist who inspired Dostoevsky’s The Devils.
BEIJING — William Wan writes: A curious thing happened two weeks ago as China was preparing celebrations for the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth. One of the main events — a symphony of favorite Communist songs at the Great Hall of the People — got an abrupt name change.
No longer would it be called “The Sun is Reddest, Chairman Mao is Dearest.” Instead, all traces of China’s founding father were quietly scrubbed from posters, ticketing Web sites and programs, and the show repackaged as a more generic New Year’s gala called “Singing the Motherland’s Praises.”
Even decades after his death, there is uncertainty about how to tackle the legacy of the man who cemented the party’s grip on power but was responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, disastrous policies and brutal purges.
At the heart of that ambivalence is a debate over China’s future. Die-hard leftists are pushing for the country’s new leaders to revive Mao’s teachings as a path to stronger nationalism, economic equality and party legitimacy. Meanwhile, liberals say the time has come not only for economic reforms and other new paths forward, but also for an honest assessment of China’s troubled past.
“Mao has never left China’s political stage,” said Guo Songmin, a well-known leftist commentator. “Now all sides want to use him to influence China’s political direction.”
Ian Bremmer writes: “The fact that China has so far avoided the unrest and uncertainty plaguing so many other countries these days is good news for those who depend on China’s strength for the stability of their own economies, but it is bad news for those who hope that China’s leaders will soon begin to adopt new attitudes toward global politics and market-driven capitalism,” says a leading analyst.
“The greatest domestic test will come from the endemic weakness at the heart of China’s current strength: state capitalism,” according to Ian Bremmer, the president of the Eurasia Group. Read the rest of this entry »
Beijing (CNN) — A court in eastern China sentenced Bo Xilai — the former rising star of the ruling Communist Party who fell from power amid a scandal involving murder, betrayal and financial skullduggery — to life in prison Sunday.
Bo received the life sentence for bribe-taking, as well as 15 years for embezzlement and seven years for abuse of power. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted By Roger L Simon On January 3, 2013
I went shopping with my family on New Year’s Day at the “premium” outlet mall in Cabezon, California, outside Palm Springs — the kind of place where you traipse around for hours in the hopes of scoring a $225 Prada tie for 30 bucks, or a $700 Versace sweater for $135.
A large number, possibly a majority, of the shoppers there are well-heeled Chinese who have flown over to binge on Yves Saint Laurent, etc. products — many of which were made in their home country in the first place. Dressed in designer clothes, these mostly young and trendy Chinese are the privileged scions of the Communist Party. Their parents and grandparents are the ones who played along and did their best not to make waves, even cooperated, throughout the mass murders of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Now, they and their kids are reaping the harvest of their modern state capitalist system that still flies under the banner of communism, a false flag operation if ever there was one. Ironies abound, and those same ironies provide a snapshot of what constitutes “leftism” in our own culture.
Idealism is not the point, nor has it been for ages.
Leftism has devolved into a kind of scam run not only on others but also on the self. Leftists are brilliant at convincing themselves of their own altruism and then broadcasting it to the public, thus providing cover for the most conventionally greedy and selfish behaviors. We see that in our society all the time: the quondam Marxists of Hollywood, the media, and the academy blathering on about economic equality while living lives the Medici could not have dreamed of.
Part of this construct is a “prevent game,” a public persona and system erected so privilege cannot be questioned or undermined. A nomenklatura more successful and sophisticated than anything ever conceived in the Soviet Union. The result of this is a highly stratified society. As is well known but scarcely reported, blacks and Latinos have actually done worse under Obama than other groups. Normally, that would be unconscionable, considering the rhetoric. But as we know, it’s all about the rhetoric. Reality is unimportant — an inconvenience.
Relatively unbridled capitalism has always been the best way out of this, the best way to true social mobility, but our nomenklatura doesn’t want to admit this because it might threaten them and their perquisites. It would blow their cover.
I suspect those Chinese shoppers knew this better than anyone, having lived through a similar experience ratcheted up to the nth degree. Although I was too polite to do it, I wanted to question them. I would have loved to know what they say to each other in the privacy of their own homes, not that they would be likely to tell me.
But there was something to learn from watching them. I felt like a detective and it made me think of Roman Polanski and Robert Towne’s Chinatown. I also thought of myself, of the way I was when I was a leftist. Yes, I drove a Porsche then (a used one). And had a house in the Hollywood Hills. And ate at gourmet restaurants. And there were plenty like me. I was part of a class. I felt safe and protected for many years, though finally I just left it. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy anymore. Or maybe I just lost the ability to convince myself of my own altruism.
Whatever the case, when it comes to the truth about leftism, it’s about the cover it gives. Or, as Bob Towne put it: “It’s Chinatown.”
Article printed from Roger L. Simon: http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon