The Museum of the Cultural Revolution

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One very hopeful sign of change in the People's Republic of China is the opening of a new museum devoted to the shameful period known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revoltuion. The UK Independent reports:

 "There is Chinese proverb which says you should use history as a mirror," Peng Qian, a former deputy mayor of Shantou, said. Mr Peng, who was himself persecuted by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, was the main driving force in setting up the museum last year.

"The message is that history is a warning to us not to make the same mistake twice. We don't want to go back down that same path. We're getting about 1,000 visitors a day at this museum and it's extremely important in education terms, inspiring in fact," Mr Peng said.

The GPCR was kicked off 40 years ago this year. Mao used it as a vehicle to unleash mob violence against those he perceived as his enemies — basiclly anyone with an education or who might stand in opposition. The Independent speaks of hundreds of thousands of victims, but the number could well be higher. The damage went beyond personal suffering, though. Priceless antiques were smashed, students didn't study for years, libraries were ransacked, and everything old and full of culture was a target for destruction. Vandalism on an epic scale.

The new museum is entirely a private affair, and is therefore vulnerable:

The Communist Party still does not accept responsibility for what happened during the revolution, and the museum in Shantou's Chenghai district was built without official backing.

That it exists at all is a good thing. May it flouirsh and the Chinese people begin to come to terms with the awful period.

Hat tip: China Challenges

Thomas Lifson  2 21 06

One very hopeful sign of change in the People's Republic of China is the opening of a new museum devoted to the shameful period known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revoltuion. The UK Independent reports:

 "There is Chinese proverb which says you should use history as a mirror," Peng Qian, a former deputy mayor of Shantou, said. Mr Peng, who was himself persecuted by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, was the main driving force in setting up the museum last year.

"The message is that history is a warning to us not to make the same mistake twice. We don't want to go back down that same path. We're getting about 1,000 visitors a day at this museum and it's extremely important in education terms, inspiring in fact," Mr Peng said.

The GPCR was kicked off 40 years ago this year. Mao used it as a vehicle to unleash mob violence against those he perceived as his enemies — basiclly anyone with an education or who might stand in opposition. The Independent speaks of hundreds of thousands of victims, but the number could well be higher. The damage went beyond personal suffering, though. Priceless antiques were smashed, students didn't study for years, libraries were ransacked, and everything old and full of culture was a target for destruction. Vandalism on an epic scale.

The new museum is entirely a private affair, and is therefore vulnerable:

The Communist Party still does not accept responsibility for what happened during the revolution, and the museum in Shantou's Chenghai district was built without official backing.

That it exists at all is a good thing. May it flouirsh and the Chinese people begin to come to terms with the awful period.

Hat tip: China Challenges

Thomas Lifson  2 21 06