Zhang Lijia
Zhang Lijia

The government has tried to keep the lid on the gruesome events during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)- even though much of the current leadership has suffered personally. But much of the younger Chinese have no clue. Author Zhang Lijia looks for Al Jazeera how things are changing, very slowly.

Zhang Lijia:

Despite the authorities’ effort to keep the lid firmly in place, more and more information is coming to light. Last May, a well-respected academic, Qin Hui, published an essay entitled The Rejection of the Cultural Revolution is not Thorough and the Truth Still Needs to be Further Revealed, on a liberal intellectual website, Aisixiang.

Qin detailed the horrors that took place in Southwest China’s Guangxi province in 1967, horrors too deplorable to describe, including cannibalism. In dozens of cases, even the wives and daughters of the accused were not spared. They would be raped first. After their murder, their breasts and private parts were cut out and sometimes their livers were eaten. All in the name of the revolution. Qin’s piece is still being circulated widely among netizens, together with other articles shedding light on the turbulent decade.

I welcome articles like Qin’s and the debates they have sparked as the anniversary is approaching. I hope they will push the Chinese people to ask some hard questions: Why did the Cultural Revolution take place? What happened exactly? Why did so many people participate with religious zeal? What did it say about the national characteristics of the Chinese people? What lessons can be learned from the catastrophe? And, more importantly, what can be done to prevent it from happening again?

I, for one, will never forget about the Cultural Revolution, for the sake of my family as well as for the nation. Without confronting the past and learning the lesson, the “China Dream” – the country’s drive towards national rejuvenation – will, sadly, remain a dream.

More in Al Jazeera.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers´request form.

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