Not Remembering Hu Yaobang

April 15th was the twentieth anniversary of Hu Yaobang’s death. Hu was a beloved leader, the General Secretary of the CCP for nearly a decade, and many people were thinking about his legacy on Wednesday. One group of people who wasn’t thinking about Hu Yaobang? The staff at the People’s Daily.

Hu Yong noted on his blog that the People’s Daily’s “today in history” feature was missing Hu’s death, even though they seemed to catch on to most of the other important things that happened on April 15ths throughout history:

[Noted are] the deaths of Hollywood stars, the passing of a French existentialist, the assassination of an American emancipator, the birth of North Korea’s “great leader”, they even mark a Cambodian mass murderer’s entrance to hell; they only forgot one person, a Chinese person, a great Chinese leader who left us on this day.

On the one hand, the People’s Daily is the mouthpiece of the Party. It’s very unlikely that they actually forgot about Hu, so this omission sends a message. That message seems somewhat contrary to earlier signs that Hu’s legacy is beginning to be recognized by the Party, even if he hasn’t been officially rehabilitated.

An even more interesting phenomenon has popped up in the comments on the post, though, as people are discovering that the names Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang are being censored automatically when they type them, thus, one netizen’s original question “Who was it, Hu Yaobang or Zhao Ziyang?” came out as “Who was it, *** or ***?”

As one netizen commented: “Actually, this just proves he hasn’t died yet.”

What do you think? Does censoring his name erase his legacy or ultimately add fuel to the fire? And why would the government try to pretend he didn’t exist anyway?

0 thoughts on “Not Remembering Hu Yaobang”

  1. This seems analagous to certain regimes known for brutality keeping democracy activists alive, when it is totally within their nature to off them (see Myanmar). Killing Aung San Suu Kyi would only give democrats in Myanmar more fuel, so they keep her alive (under house arrest). Sensoring Hu Yaobang info will just add more fuel in China to people that idolize him or look up to him.

    (Not that Hu Yaobang is a democracy activist but you get the idea.)


  2. (I should clarify, I believe that the Chinese government has gone the opposite route that the Burmese one has. Also I don’t think the Chinese government is nearly as brutal as the Burmese junta, just to stop anyone that wants to nitpick).


  3. Yeah, I find the censoring an odd choice too, and wonder where it comes from (i.e, whether it’s actual gov’t censors or Sina self-censoring to be cautious, not wanting to end up like bullog, or what). It seems to me like they aren’t doing themsevles any good, especially since they can easily be discussed by calling them “Hu” and “Zhao”; those characters alone could obviously never be censored…


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  5. The writer must have a skew sense of democracy. Adoring politician, especially another commie is a no no in civilized country. Using his name after his death to create conflict is stupid.


  6. @ Frank, please. That’s a pretty pathetic rationalization if you’re trying to argue the point I think you are. There’s a difference between “adoring politicians” and commemorating the deaths of important political figures, which is something that almost EVERY country, civilized or not, does.


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