Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sina Weibo Censors Apology From Former Cultural Revolution Red Guard

On January 14, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Iconic Red Guard Says Sorry.” Some excerpts:
The daughter of a late general, who led China's revolution, has made a public apology to her high school teachers for her deeds during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) amid a recent wave of reflections by the perpetrators of the decade-long movement.

Song Binbin is the daughter of Song Renqiong, a general in the People's Liberation Army during the time of China's founding.
. . . .
The school's deputy principal Bian Zhongyun was beaten to death on August 5, 1966, marking the first killing of a teacher during the chaotic Cultural Revolution.

On Sunday, Song and her fellow students came back to the school and apologized to the teachers who were attacked more than four decades ago.
. . . .
Sima Nan, a conservative-leaning scholar, told the Global Times that Song's apology should be respected if it was made by her own consciousness and could only be made on her own behalf.

"Given the ideological conflicts in  society, I have to speculate that there may be some forces trying to use the second generation of revolutionary families' apologies to sway public opinion on the Cultural Revolution," Sima said.
The same day the Global Times also published an editorial entitled “Red Guard Apology Triggers Wide Reflection.” Some excerpt from the English language version:
China is at the stage of rapid transformation in all spheres including ideology. Diversified opinions have reinvigorated people's minds, but at the same time, allowed confusion.
. . . .
[S]ome malicious actions, such as defaming, rumor-mongering and personal attacks, which were notoriously popular in the period of Cultural Revolution, were brought back to life in the context of the free Internet. Some people are concerned that China might re-walk that disastrous road, while some believe these actions are all for democracy, which can be achieved even at the cost of law and order.

[D]isregard the fact that the whole nation has defined the Revolution as what it should be, a handful of people demand the CPC and central government apologize for the Revolution.

In fact, the nationwide introspection of the 1980s is more constructive than a so-called apology.
Here is an excerpt from the Chinese language version of the editorial entitled “The Cultural Revolution Could Not be Repeated, Though Its Winds are Difficult Quiet” (文革不可能重演,其风却不易肃清) that was omitted from the English language version:
The Cultural Revolution was certainly repugnant, but it would seem that the way some things were done at that time was not quite so repugnant as the way they were done in the 80's, including some that are being covertly worshipped, and given new labels . . . .
文革挺臭的,但当时的一些做法似乎不像上世纪80年代那样臭了,其中有些还受到变相推崇,贴上新的标签 . . . .
These screenshots show that on January 14, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for the phrase “Cultural Revolution Red Guard Leader Song Binbin” (文革红卫兵领袖宋彬彬).

These screenshots were taken on January 14, and show that Baidu had banned users from establishing forums on its PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) product to discuss “Cultural Revolution” and “Red Guards.”