Category Archives: History

Tim Chamberlain : The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China edited by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom

Beginning with the question, ‘what and when is modern China?’, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China, edited by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, offers an overview of modern Chinese history, from its origins to the present-day. This is a beautifully illustrated, accessible and scholarly work that will serve as an excellent introduction to the country to researchers, students and the general public alike, writes Tim Chamberlain Continue reading

Tienchi Martin-Liao: Using the Red Guard’s Language to Commemorate the Cultural Revolution


Three young Chinese Red Guards from the Cultural Revolution. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

The rhetoric of the 50th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution in China mirrors the Red Guard’s language of 1966.

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The Historian of the Tiananmen Movement and the June Fourth Massacre – An Interview With Wu Renhua

Wu RenhuaIn 1989, Mr. Wu Renhua was a young faculty member at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing, leading the student demonstration along with other young scholars. He participated in the Tiananmen Movement “from the first day to the last,” and was among the last few thousand protesters who left Tiananmen Square in the early morning of June 4. On the way back to his college, he witnessed PLA tanks charging into a file of students at Liubukou (六部口), a large intersection, killing 11 and injuring many. In February, 1990, Wu swam four hours from Zhuhai to Macau, and onto Hong Kong, and arrived later that year in the United States. Over the next 15 years he was the editor of Press Freedom Herald (《新闻自由导报》), a Chinese-language paper founded on June 9, 1989, by a group of overseas Chinese, to bring news of pro-democracy activities to China. Given Mr. Wu’s training as a historiographer, he began his research of 1989 as soon as the incident ended—but his writing didn’t start until in 2005, when the paper he edited folded. From 2005 to 2014, he published three books (none have been translated into English): The Bloody Clearing of Tiananmen Square (《天安门血腥清场内幕》, 2007), The Martial Law Troops of June Fourth (《六四事件中的戒严部队》, 2009), and The Full Record of the Tiananmen Movement (《六四事件全程实录》, 2014). Together, the three books form a complete record of the 1989 democracy movement and the June Fourth Massacre. I flew to Los Angeles and interviewed Mr. Wu over April 24 and 25.  The first half of the interview discusses his work, especially his research on the martial law troops. – Yaxue Cao 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

Tienchi Martin-Liao : Harry Wu: An Amazing Survivor


Harry Wu on Human Rights Day. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Tienchi Martin-Liao pens a different obituary for a former colleague and recently deceased legendary Chinese defender of human rights.

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Beijing Mixes Its Message on The Cultural Revolution’s Golden Anniversary

56 Flowers

A revolutionary song is performed by the “56 Flowers” troupe in a televised appearance, May 2, 2016. RFA/Qiao Long

As China approaches the 50th anniversary of the launch of late supreme leader Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), the ruling Chinese Communist Party appears to be sending mixed signals about public events marking the decade of turmoil and political violence. Continue reading

China ‘Tries to Cover Up’ Guangdong’s Cultural Revolution Museum

first museum of the Cultural Revolution

The entrance to Guangdong Shantou the country’s first museum of the Cultural Revolution is shown in this undated file photo. Network Graphics

Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong have apparently clamped down on the only museum dedicated to the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, 60 years after it was launched by late supreme leader Mao Zedong. Continue reading