“History is the best textbook” is one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s favorite phrases, yet in recent years the Communist party have made efforts to tighten control over history. The struggle to control historical memory can be seen most recently in attempts to curb even private commemorations of the bloody crackdown of 1989 and silence public comment. Over time, the events of June 4, 1989 have become more, not less, sensitive. By examining the example of an almost-forgotten crackdown in the city of Chengdu in 1989, we can see a case study of the state’s ability to rewrite history.
Louisa Lim is the author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited (Oxford University Press, 2014), which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and the Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. She is an award-winning journalist, who grew up in Hong Kong and reported from China for a decade for NPR and the BBC. Lim is now a Senior Lecturer in Audio Visual Journalism at the University of Melbourne and has recently been named an Orwell Fellow. She is the co-host of the Little Red Podcast, a monthly podcast focusing on China beyond the Beijing beltway.
Cosponsored with Kellogg Institute for International Studies
Originally published at asia.nd.edu.