Monthly Archives: 五月 2016

New Book by Guobin Yang Explores the Red Guard Generation in China

Yang GuobinIn 1966 — exactly 50 years ago this week — Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong made a sweeping edict: China would purge its corrupt capitalist remnants and awaken to a new era of Communist ideology, true and pure. In heeding the call of the Cultural Revolution, China’s youth formed Red Guard groups whose fierce adherence to Maoist ideology drove them to engage in an uncompromising purge of anything Confucian, Western, or bourgeois. For several years, violence wracked China’s cities.

For young people coming of age at that time, life was profoundly different than that of generations before or since.  In his new book, The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China, Professor Guobin Yang explores what happened to that generation and how their experiences shaped China for decades to come.

In the book, published by Columbia University Press, Yang argues that the forces that made the revolution also set in motion its undoing. After two years of fighting, millions of Red Guard were ordered by Mao to be “sent-down” to rural villages, partly as a means to control and curb the violence.

“The type of political culture they grew up in was one of loyalty to Mao, to the revolution, to struggle against class enemies, to the collective complete sacrifice of the self,” explains Yang, who is an Associate Professor of Communication and Sociology at Penn as well as a faculty member of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China and the Center for East Asian Studies. “But because of the violence, they had a sense of disillusionment. After all the fighting, nothing seemed to have been achieved.”

The sent-down youth were also woefully unprepared for the adjustment to rural life. They found rural China “backward” and were unprepared to become peasants. The revolution had used the slogan “Down with the self,” and considered real life personal concerns to be bourgeois. Yet, in one village, the village party secretary welcomed city youth’s arrival by telling them that “farming is for yourself.” The Red Guard generation was forced to think about its own day-to-day interests and came to appreciate the values of ordinary life rather than high-blown revolutionary ideals.

It was also the beginning of an underground culture as former Red Guards began to pick up their books again to re-educate themselves.

“They questioned the revolution and its meaning, gaining a new understanding of themselves, their society, politics,” says Yang. “Rural life was totally different than what they had learned in school before the Cultural Revolution.”

Such a generational transformation provides a foundation for both profound political and social change in China. Politically, Yang, says, the new outlooks of the Red Guard generation led to the first wave of popular protest for democracy from 1976 to 1980. This period marked the end of the Mao era and the beginning of the economic reform.

Guobin Yang

Guobin Yang, Ph.D.

In the book, Yang also makes a link from the sent-down youth to the beginning of economic reform in the late 1970s, which was a reversal of the Maoist planned economy. The government began to recognize private business, but faced resistance. Entrepreneurship had too long carried a moral stigma of dishonor.

“Because of the experience they had in the countryside, private enterprise was more acceptable to some members of the Red Guard generation,” says Yang. “Many of them had returned to the cities and couldn’t find jobs from the state. That understanding of personal interest and working for your own money and happiness had become acceptable to them. It laid a social foundation for the economic reform to take off. Otherwise it would have been harder to move from a planned to a market economy.”

In providing this new frame through which to view Red Guard activism, Yang  concludes the book by looking at the politics of history and memory, arguing that the generation’s memories of that time  often depend upon which side they happened to have been on 50 years earlier.

The release of Yang’s book, called “a major new study” by The Nation, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. As public debates about the contemporary ramifications of the Chinese Cultural Revolution exploded this month in the mainstream media, Yang’s book makes a timely scholarly contribution.

The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China is available now from Columbia University Press. 

Source: https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/new-book-guobin-yang-explores-red-guard-generation-china

Chinese Rights Activist on Hunger Strike in Jail, Sister Says

Guo Feixiong

Guangdong rights activist Guo Feixiong in an undated photo. Photo courtesy of activists

Jailed Chinese rights activist Guo Feixiong is on hunger strike in protest at ill-treatment at his prison in the southern province of Guangdong, his sister said on Friday. Continue reading

Prominent Chinese Writer Taken by Police ‘for Tea’

Tie Liu

Huang Zerong, better known by his pen name Tie Liu, is seen in a photo from social media.

A prominent Chinese writer living under police surveillance in China’s southwestern city of Chengdu has been missing for nearly a week, according to friends and relatives. Continue reading

Shannon Van Sant: Hong Kong NGOs Fear New Rules Will Jeopardize Work on Mainland

NGOs

Chinese officials answer questions about a law regulating overseas non-governmental organizations (NGOs) during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, April 28, 2016.

Jason Chan says he still has more questions than answers about how his labor-rights organization will be able to do its work in China under Beijing’s new rules on the operation of NGOs. Continue reading

198. HUANG FANGMEI (released)

Huang FangmeiPen name                Huang Jingyi

Sex                               Female

Birth date               1964-02-26

Birth place              Wuhan City, Hubei Province

Resident place       Qingshan District, Wuhan City, Hubei Province Continue reading

Ma Jian: A Son of Cultural Revolution

Fifty years ago this month, Mao Zedong launched China’s Cultural Revolution – a decade of chaos, persecution, and violence, carried out in the name of ideology and in the interest of expanding Mao’s personal power. Yet, instead of reflecting on that episode’s destructive legacy, the Chinese government is limiting all discussion of it, and Chinese citizens, focused on the wealth brought by three decades of market-oriented reforms, have been content to go along. But at a time when President Xi Jinping is carrying out ruthless purges and creating his own cult of personality, burying the past is not cost-free. Continue reading

Joshua Fatzick: China Silent on 50th Anniversary of Cultural Revolution

Mausoleum of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong

A cleaner sweeps ground in front of the Mausoleum of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square on the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution in Beijing, China, May 16, 2016.

Fifty years ago today, the Chinese Communist Party started the country down a path to the Cultural Revolution, which it said would bring about a more just society, but in practice led to complete social and economic disaster. Continue reading

China Launches ‘Rumor-Busting’ Website to Enforce Party Line

Police check the ID cards of netizens

Police check the ID cards of netizens at an Internet cafe in Shandong province, July 31, 2013. ImagineChina

China’s police force has launched a whistleblower website targeting people who spread “rumors” online in a further bid to control what the country’s 700 million internet users see and post online. Continue reading