Things have been depressing for China watchers as of late. Increased censorship, Google’s threat to leave, Liu Xiaobo’s sentencing, Gao Zhisheng’s probable execution…it’s been a rough month. But you’ll be happy to know that a few encouraging things have happened!
First of all, the recent reports that “sexting” would be banned appear to have been erroneous. After the Nanfang Daily’s original story, reporters checked with China Mobile, who apparently had heard nothing about the plan they were ostensibly cooperating in. The Nanfang Daily and the China Daily got it wrong, the move is to crack down on cell phone “porn channels”, and the text message censoring was only one of several proposed strategies. So keep on sexting, for now at least!
Second, text messaging has returned in Xinjiang! This news thanks to our friend Josh, and also the New York Times, obviously comes with the caveat that things are still very, very restricted there, but a little progress is better than none, eh?
And finally, for the first time ever, Chinese authorities have approved the creation of a memorial to those who died in the Cultural Revolution (in Chongqing, Sichuan). Writes Rogen Cohen:
That’s a hopeful sign. I spent too long covering the bloody wars in the Balkans not to believe that history denied can devour you.
But until now, the Communist rulers of China have been relentless in suppressing the history of their worst errors, not least the frenzied attempt of Mao Zedong in the decade before his death to revitalize his rule by spreading terror.
So the decision, made last month by authorities in this gritty central Chinese city, to designate a cemetery containing the remains of 573 people slaughtered during the Cultural Revolution as an official relic worthy of maintenance is a significant opening.
Indeed, acknowledging our mistakes is important. And while the CCP has long acknowledged that, to put it mildly, the Cultural Revolution period led to some “excesses”, to see an official cemetery set aside for victims is a positive step, to be sure.