‘Red Memory’: Cultural Revolution’s costs to China’s society


Only when accountability and democracy have arrived can China hope to begin the process of addressing the Cultural Revolution’s lingering injustices, says democracy activist Nathan Law.

Tania Branigan’s searching ‘Red Memory’ reveals the costs to Chinese society of not doing so, depicting how the Cultural Revolution warped family relationships, communities and hierarchies, he writes for Chatham House. But we are far from anything like a comprehensive attempt to understand how deep the wound of the Cultural Revolution runs, let alone how to begin healing it.

China and Russia account for substantially more than a third of the world’s population (36.9%) living under authoritarian rule, says the latest Economist Intelligence Unit Index.

Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, China’s government has embraced orthodox communist ideology and sought to increase the Party’s dominance over society and the economy, notes analyst Minxin Pei. This approach – exemplified by tighter social control, the establishment of CPC cells in private firms, and provocations against China’s most important trading partners – has severely damaged business confidence.

If the CPC is serious about growth, it must recommit to Deng Xiaoping’s most important political reforms, such as meritocracy, mandatory retirement, and term limits. Increasing the legal system’s independence is particularly urgent, in order to reassure private entrepreneurs that their personal safety and property will be protected, he writes for Project Syndicate.

The CCP “appears to have been caught by surprise” by the A4 protests, the Asia Society’s Center for China Analysis observed in a recently released paper. “There followed a fortnight of political indecision … about the degree of suppression that would be tolerated to bring protesters back under control.”

Xi had moved to reverse the neo-Maoist economic policies that had demoralized Chinese entrepreneurs and enfeebled the country’s tech and real estate sectors, it adds, noting a series of changes in the CCP’s December Work Conference report rendering the new edition “less ideological” and more supportive of “market vitality and creativity.”

China’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has varied across four domains: informational, diplomatic, economic, and military, notes Hoover’s Sharp Power Project. China’s stance appears to be shaped by several factors, including a perceived need to counter the United States and therefore a desire to support Russia while minimizing the costs of doing so to Chinese interests. China’s desire for internal political stability and the increasingly personalist nature of its regime and political system also appear to have shaped its decision-making, as has its evolving assessments of what the Ukraine conflict might mean for Taiwan. RSVP

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