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Geremie R. Barmé

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Homepage: http://www.chinafile.com/

The adulation of Xi Jinping, China’s State President, Party General Secretary, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, has yet to reach similar lofty heights as that of Mao Zedong. However, on September 3, the official Beijing media took a brave step in the direction of Mao-era excess. In reporting on the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and Xi Jinping’s meetings and talks with various heads of African nations, the...

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The thought of hearing back from Simon Leys filled me with dread. It was late 1976 and I was an exchange student at a university in Shenyang, in northeast China. I’d only recently learned that Pierre Ryckmans, the man who had taught me Chinese, was none other than Simon Leys, a writer both celebrated and reviled in the French-speaking world.

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On the evening of May 20, 1989, in response to weeks of mass demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government placed Beijing under martial law. The following morning, in Hong Kong, far to the south, Wen Wei Po, the main Communist-controlled newspaper in the British territory, published a glaring white space containing four large Chinese characters—tong xin ji shou, meaning “heartbreak”—instead of the usual front-page editorial.

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On April 1, 1969, delegates to the Ninth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party convened in the Great Hall of the People on the western flank of Tiananmen Square. The hall had been constructed as one of the Ten Grand Edifices 十大建築 hastily constructed to celebrate the first decade of the People’s Republic of China in 1959. It was used for major meetings of the socialist party-state ever...

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Chinese censorship has come a long way. During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor of a unified China, Ying Zheng, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’. He not only got rid of troublesome texts, he deleted their authors and potential readers as well. This infamy would be decried throughout Chinese history until, in May 1958...

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The January 13, 1967 issue of TIME magazine featured Mao Zedong on its cover with the headline “China in Chaos.” Fifty years later, TIME made U.S. President-elect Donald Trump its Man of The Year. With a groundswell of mass support, both men rebelled against the established order in their respective countries and set about throwing the world into confusion. Both share an autocratic mind set, Mao Zedong as...

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