Jamil Anderlini: Wen Lays Ground for Tiananmen Healing

Jamil Anderlini is the Beijing bureau chief for the FT and has been a correspondent covering China since 2003.

The last century in China has presented a minefield of violent political events that have been expunged from history books and public discourse by a Communist party intent on denying its more painful mistakes.
So it was astonishing to hear Premier Wen Jiabao at his annual press conference last week say the country and the party must confront the legacy of the 1966-76 cultural revolution or face the possibility of repeating that disaster.
Mr Wen’s persistent mentions of the violent chaos unleashed by Mao Zedong were a clear rebuke to populist “princeling” politician Bo Xilai, who was purged a few hours later as party chief of Chongqing, one of China’s largest cities.
Mr Bo’s critics had slammed his “cultural revolution” style policies in Chongqing, which involved the revival of Mao-era revolutionary songs and propaganda and a vicious crackdown on anyone he accused of being a “gangster”.
But for those reading between the pauses in the premier’s painfully deliberate oratory, the speech signalled more than the downfall of the maverick Mr Bo, who may still be charged with unspecified crimes...

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