Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An eye into the past

It appears that more documents have been made available to the Chinese public concerning the Cultural Revolution (its full title is the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命) and took place from 1966 to 1976, with varying degrees of intensity). From my perspective, this is one of the greatest tragedies in Chinese history. During this period Chinese society was flipped upside down, resulting in the persecution of thousands of people who were thrown into labor camps, while at the same time making a mockery of the education system in China. My Chinese friends who have lived through it shared some stories about their experiences a few years ago and I'm still moved by the human suffering. I highly recommend those of you interested read up on it - it helps explain China's course today.

Back to the story at hand though. Will this action shed new light on the lost decade? Probably not. There are hundreds of millions of Chinese people who have their own stories to tell and would do far more in revealing unknown bits of information. However, without making it a bigger deal than it is, the Chinese government's decision to make them available is a good sign and should be welcomed, despite their limited availability.

This action highlights something that I feel is appropriate for China as a nation to conduct at this point in time: a public exploration of the Cultural Revolution. There is no shame in saying that mistakes were made and apologies be issued. So much suffering was inflicted that almost everyone has something to apologize for. Moreover, it would allow the Chinese government to start afresh, saying "This is what we've done in the past. We're sorry. Let's develop our nation together." Everyone deserves a second or third chance, and the Chinese government is no exception.

1 comment:

  1. Great Insight Chris! You should have been in Terrorism and Counterterrorism today to hear Professor Hoyt's comments on exactly this issue... a true human tragedy.