China to Keep Files Closed on Violent Past

Communist Party historian says some records are “not convenient to be released”  

Chinese protestors touting pictures of Mao Zedong / AP

BY:

Chinese officials will likely never release all of the records regarding their country’s bloody and chaotic past, including the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward, Reuters reports.

Xie Chuntao, a top historian for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said on Monday that though "everyone has reached a consensus that the mistakes of the past will certainly not be repeated today or in the future," some files on events such as the disastrous economic program known as the "Great Leap Forward" would be permanently off-limits:

The 1958-1961 Great Leap Forward, when millions starved to death in Mao Zedong's botched industrialization campaign, and the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution are two of modern China's most sensitive historical events.

During the Cultural Revolution, children turned on parents and students on teachers after Mao declared class war, convulsing the country in chaos and violence.

While recent years have seen increased public discussion of both events, certain topics remain almost completely off limits, including the death of Lin Biao, once handpicked to succeed Mao but killed in a mysterious plane crash in 1971 while fleeing Chinahaving been accused of plotting a coup.

Xie defended the secrecy of the documents by arguing that only a "small number" remain sealed:

"Some involve the state's core interests, and some are not convenient to be released," Xie added.

"From a historical research it is to be hoped that it would be best if they are all opened. But I fear this cannot happen, and may never happen."

Daniel Wiser   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Daniel Wiser is an assistant editor of National Affairs. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2013, where he studied Journalism and Political Science and was the State & National Editor for The Daily Tar Heel. He hails from Waxhaw, N.C., and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @TheWiserChoice.

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