Western media were working with a very narrow news window when they covered the fortieth anniversary of China’s Cultural Revolution last month — the story bounced to the top for a few days before disappearing entirely. Many Western media remarked the “silence” of Chinese media on May 16, the actual day of the anniversary, which CMP showed to be an oversimplification. But in fact Chinese newspapers have continued to run features and profiles about the Cultural Revolution long after their counterparts in the West lost interest. [PHOTO: Mao Zedong greets writer Jin Jingmai in 1967. Jin is jailed less than a year later (see story below). Image from China.com].
Part of the impetus for continued Chinese coverage, arguably, was a press conference statement by China’s cultural minister, Sun Jiazheng, on May 25, in which he said the National Museum of China and the National Library of China had been gathering Cultural Revolution materials that might “assist in research of this period in history”. Some media pounced on this statement as an opportunity for more coverage in defiance of the official ban. But a certain degree of bolder coverage, of course, should naturally be expected as the immediate anniversary fades safely behind.
To give our readers an idea of the kinds of Cultural Revolution coverage we are seeing in the wake of the anniversary, here are excerpts of a June 6 story from Southern Metropolis Daily, the newspaper that urged revolution veterans in a May 26 editorial to tell the “truth about what the Cultural Revolution was”. This story is about a writer named Jin Jingmai (金敬迈) who rose to prominence in the early days of the Cultural Revolution but was later imprisoned for almost a decade. It appeared on page A44, in the “Guangzhou News” section of the paper:
By virtue of his book, “The Story of Ouyang Hai”, writer Jin Jingmai had become popular throughout the whole country. In 1967, he was appointed to take charge of the “Division of Cultural Revolution Literature”. Four months later he was packed off to jail. He returned to Guangzhou after being released from prison in 1976.
In April 1962, The Communist Party approved the Central Propaganda Department’s “Eight Rules for Literature”, which urged [the people to] “let a hundred flowers blooms” [NOTE: This is the “Hundred Flowers Campaign”]. During the Tenth Party Congress in 1962, Mao Zedong reminded the citizens not to forget the class struggle. “The Story of Ouyang Hai” nicely fulfilled this purpose …
“I developed the image of a brave soldier of Communism [in my book]. I wrote a lot about class struggle and the spirit of Communism. The book finally became material for Chairman Mao in the education of younger generations [of Chinese]”, [Jin Jingmai says]. …
“In 1966 and 1967, my situation was still secure because the Cultural Revolution had not yet engulfed me. Almost all the books of that period were regarded as ‘poisonous weeds’ while my own, ‘The Story of Ouyang Hai’, was still very popular and under no restrictions.” …
“Two members of our team were interrogated by the Central Government, asking who had ordered the gathering of unfavorable materials about [Mao Zedong mistress] Jiang Qing’s darker days in Shanghai in the 1930s [when she was an actress there]. I told them I had given the order and would take full responsibility. That was the reason for my downfall.” …
“On April 11, 1967, I was summoned to Beijing for a meeting with the Chief. In the meeting room of the Jingxi Hotel, Jiang Qing didn’t wait for me to sit down. She shouted, “‘Jin Jingmai, What is this?! You refuse to follow my comments in making your revisions? You assume the airs of a big writer!'”
“Jiang Qing kept saying, ‘I tried to protect you, not informing on your staff to the Red Guards, all because you served in the military. If I had told them, they would already have caught you and burned all your books!'”
[Posted by David Bandurski and Brian Chan, Juen 14, 2006, 11:41am]

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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