Damien Ma: Children of the Revolution: The History China's New Leaders Won't Confront





Damien Ma is a China analyst at Eurasia Group.  He writes on Chinese energy policies and climate change, politics, innovation, U.S.-China relations, social policies, and Internet policies, among other topics. He has written for Slate, The New Republic, and Forbes.

Not only did the now-disgraced Bo Xilai revive Cultural Revolution songs in Chongqing, where he was the Communist Party committee chair, his dramatic political downfall seemed to have ignited a renewed interest in the cultural revolution, that ignominious decade in modern Chinese history. Much of this new interest came from Premier Wen Jiabao's surprising comments at the conclusion of China's National People's Congress, in which he warned about history repeating itself if reforms are not carried out.

But it is more than just Wen's words. The new cohort of leaders -- Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, and Bo Xilai too -- are all children of that revolution, having watched their families and communities torn apart by brutish and senseless politics. Despite their pedigrees and "royal" backgrounds, both Xi and Bo's fathers were publicly humiliated in "struggle sessions" that sought to instill ideological purity, whatever that meant. Families and friends turned on each other. Suspicions pervaded society and trust became a public scarcity. To give some sense of what transpired, these incredible photos of young Bo Yibo (Bo's father) and Xi Zhongxun (Xi's father) speak volumes.

Gagged and bound, Bo Yibo was likely forced to admit his "crimes" against the Communist Party or his capitalist "sympathies." Xi Zhongxun, with his head bowed, had to dangle an "anti-party element" sign around his neck. This was a time in China's history when accusations became truths and evidence was whatever the party decreed. Confusion and terror reigned--many lives were destroyed, and many more were deferred....



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