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History rewritten and rewritten and rewritten and ..........


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On one of the 4 sides at the People's Hero Monument in Tiananmen Square at Beijing, the historical event of Taiping uprising was sculptured there. (The other three sides show the Opium War, 1911 and 1949 revolutions.)

But were the Taiping leaders really heroes that deserved a place on the monument?

It seems it all depends on the TIME.

140 years after the demise of Taiping Kingdom, historical evaluation about Taiping era was rewritten and rewritten again and again.

Sun Yat Sen claimed that he was inspired in his childhood by the Taiping revolutionary story told by some Taiping retainers (Taipings were mostly people from Guangdong and Guangxi.)

So Taiping were heroes per Sun.

But his successor Chiang Kai Shek confessed that he admired the Qing General -- Tsang Kuok Fan -- whom single-handedly put Taiping into oblivion.

So Taiping were villains per Chiang.

But Taiping rebellion was classified by Mao as "classic farmer revolution against the feudal class".

So of course Taiping were heroes per Mao.

But during the Falun Gong incident in 1999, CCP media widely inferred Falun Gong as another Taiping movement.

So Taiping were villains per Jiang Zemin.

So were Taiping actually heroes or villains?

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whatever they were, they weren't smart enough to take the throne, infightings killed them. Lucky Qing court, only if the taipings succeeded China would be a very different place today.

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You are right that traces of Taiping are still evident inside China. I have visited the Taiping Fortress at Golden Cock Mountain in Northern Guangdong and the Heavenly King's Palace in Nanjing.

But CCP media did widely infer Falun Gong as another Taiping movement in 1999-2000.

I don't see any relevance between the two issues.

Taiping was "great" since it happened 150 years ago. But if Taiping resurrects nowadays, I don't see Beijing can tolerate it.

Just imagine, can anyone claim himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ and prosleytize be allowed to do so inside Mainland China nowadays?

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If the Taiping had succeeded, China would have become the world's first real "Communist country".

Their policy like land redistribution, public ownership of properties, genuine women liberation,....etc was much more radical (or progressive depending your political inclination) than any other countries in the world at that time.

Such policy even dated earlier than the Paris Commune -- the first Marxist experiment -- of 1871.

But of course, every Chinese would have become Christians if Taiping had succeeded. Maybe they were not exactly Christians perceived by the western world, but they would look more like Chinese-style mormons.

Regarding infighting, I don't see its degree as fierce as its successor -- CCP.

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If the Taiping had succeeded, China would have become the world's first real "Communist country".

That could be a possibility. A different place, how different? No one knows.

Regarding infighting, I don't see its degree as fierce as its successor -- CCP.

Let's just say they were both as fierce? but infighting did not kill CCP.

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But CCP media did widely infer Falun Gong as another Taiping movement in 1999-2000.


I don't see any relevance between the two issues.

Taiping was "great" since it happened 150 years ago. But if Taiping resurrects nowadays, I don't see Beijing can tolerate it.


Just imagine, can anyone claim himself to be the younger brother of Jesus Christ and prosleytize be allowed to do so inside Mainland China nowadays?


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  • 3 weeks later...
But were the Taiping leaders really heroes that deserved a place on the monument? It seems it all depends on the TIME.

No, it depends on the political orientation of the ruling administration.

As you said, Chiang Kai-shek did not see Taiping in good light. And neither does Jiang Zemin. Both are right-winged administrations, highly concerned with markets and national stability. Both care less about immediate social equality; they focus instead on economic productivity and national wealth. Both are convicted with the belief that some people will just have to get rich before others, so that the entire nation may in the future be wealthier. I happen to agree with Chiang and Jiang, as it is now apparent that standards of living in China has greatly improved not because of leftist egalitarian socialist policies, but because of highly laissez-faire market-driven economic policies. Our newfound appreciation of Chinese history and arts is also one of the many positive results of these more free and individualist policies started under Deng and Jiang. Whereas, Falun Gong, Taiping and CCP Revolution were socialist movements that have caused (or potentially can cause) extreme chaos to the nation and hinder economic development for decades.

Socialists Sun Yatsen, Mao Zedong, President Hu Jintao, and PM Wen Jiabao will likely disagree with me. Anyone who has been paying attention to Chinese politics clearly sees the current division within the party between the more socialist Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabao and the more individualist "Shanghai Faction" 上海帮 (Jiang Zemin, Zeng Qinghong).

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I think that proper assessment of historical figures or events will not be rendered at least until 200 years afterwards.

Taiping Rebellion is the most typical example.

Since its aftermath has tremendous influence on subsequent historical development, many politicians, out of emotional, political, ideological or sheer pragmatic concern, evaluated the event with heavy bias which in turn directly or indirectly assert pressure on the historians.

In my grandson's generation, they may have a more impartial opinion about Taiping.

In my great great grandson's generation, they may have another opinion about Sun, Chiang, Mao and Deng.

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  • 1 year later...

This year history is rewritten again by Beijing.

The subject being rewritten is Chiang Kai Shek, KMT and their role in the resistance war against Japan.

A Beijing think tank urges the government to assess Chiang's role more objectively during the war (meaning Chiang had never wavered in his determination to fight the Japanese):


The first war museum (built by CCP) honoring the role of KMT forces during the war is constructed in Chengdu, Sichuan:


So had Stilwell been really lying when he badmouthed Chiang?

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Beijing officially recognized the role of KMT in tying down Japanese troops in China. This is a good step, but obviously this recognition was made out of political intentions regarding the Taiwan issue.

If you notice carefully, Beijing has a record of acknowledging history that only advances its own causes, while discounting history that does not. An example is the recent Koguryo dispute between Beijing and Seoul.


CCP officially acknowledged KMT role in 2nd Sino-Japan War.

Official lauds KMT role in anti-Japan war

By Sun Shangwu (China Daily)

Updated: 2005-08-31 05:49

Wang Zaixi, vice-minister of Taiwan Affairs Office, yesterday spoke highly of the roles played by Kuomintang (KMT) troops in battling Japanese aggression six decades ago.

Wang called those Kuomintang generals and soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war "national heroes" and "martyrs."

He made the remark at a press conference.

He urged people from both sides of the Taiwan Straits to learn lessons from the war.

"Any political party must take the interests of the country as the top priority," said Wang, calling for unity of political parties and groups from both the mainland and Taiwan in the fight against Taiwan separatism.

Commemoration activities for the 60th anniversary of the victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression will reach another climax on Saturday.

Top Party and State leaders will lay wreaths of flowers at the Monument to the People's Heroes on Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing, with 10,000 people expected to attend.

President Hu Jintao will honour war veterans with medals on a separate occasion.

A big gathering of more than 6,000 people will also be held on Saturday morning in the Great Hall of the People, to be followed by a reception in the evening, said Wang Guoqing, vice-minister of the State Council's Information Office, also at the press conference.

He said that China is celebrating the victory anniversary "with the great spirit of patriotism," instead of viewing the war with "narrow nationalism."

"We are not engaging in anti-Japanese education," said Chen Haosu, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

China's relations with Japan have been strained recently after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, where convicted war criminals are honoured, as well as Tokyo's approval of textbooks that gloss over Japan's war atrocities.

Although Koizumi apologized for its wartime aggression on August 15, the anniversary of Japan's surrender in 1945, "we think the Japanese Government should translate words into action," said Vice-Foreign Minister Lu Xinhua.

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History has long been rewritten in people's minds before the recent change of official stance.

Just compare the public outpouring of grief over Mme Chiang's death with the cold shouldering over Mme Mao's death in Mainland society.

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If I was a history student, the first question I ask my mentor would be, can I believe in history? Though I never got a chance to ask. My major was science and I believe in it. :) What do you guys think? Do you believe 公道自在人心? By the nature of history, as time goes by, are we approaching the truth, because less political/economical/personal interests are involved and better technologies are invented? Or evidence and clues will all be taken away by the force of time? I don't think the WW2 history can be rewritten, what is rewritten is people's views. I suppose in this case I can believe in history. But in the cases like anceint history or secrets like JFK assassination, will we finally get the truth, or all records eventually will be gone before we see them?

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Other than Chiang Kai Shek and KMT, Beijing also starts to rewrite the history about former Party Secretary Hu Yao Bang.

In coming November, there will be a large scale commemorative activity of Hu's 90th Birthday staged in Beijing. President Hu and some other top brass in the Politburo will attend the event.

This is the first time such activity being held in public in 19 years.

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  • 11 months later...

Interestingly I found out that Karl Marx's view on Taiping resembled that of Chiang Kai Shek and Jiang Zemin while deviated much from the view held by Sun and Mao. Here is what Marx wrote about the Taipings:

馬 克 思 在 一 八 六 二 年 發 表 的 《 中 國 紀 事 》 說 : 「 除 了改 朝 換 代 , 太 平 天 國 沒 有 給 自 己 提 出 任 何 任 務 , 他 們 的 全 部 使 命 , 僅 僅 是 用 醜 惡 萬狀 的 破 壞 來 與停 滯 腐 朽 對 立 。 (Stood against stagnation and corruption with malicious destruction? Something like that?) 太 平 軍 就 是 中 國 人 幻 想 描 繪 的 那 個 魔 鬼 的 化 身 , 這 類魔 鬼 是 停 滯 的 社 會 生 活 的 產 物 , 只 有 中 國 才 有 這 類 魔 鬼 。 」

P.S. Here is what Marx actually wrote about the Taiping in 1862:

As a matter of fact the only original part of this revolution was its leaders. They are conscious of their task, quite apart from the change of dynasty. They have no slogans. They represent a still greater torment for the masses of the people than for the old rulers. Their motive seems to be nothing else than to bring into play against the conservative marasmus grotesquely repulsive forms of destruction, destruction without any germ of regeneration.”

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  • 1 month later...

Indeed Marx didn't think very highly of the Taiping. The original correspondence (in German) from July 1862 can be found here: http://www.mlwerke.de/me/me15/me15_514.htm

He starts by describing the kingdoms of the orient as having a consistently stagnant base (Unterbau), whereas the the political elite (Ueberbau) is dominated by the restless successions of different people and tribes. So, he concludes, it comes as no surprise that the current foreign rulers of China, after 300 years, be toppled as well, catalyzed by the opium wars etc. - Paradoxically, he says, it is Opium that actually woke people up instead of putting them to sleep.

Since he himself wasn't in China he continues by quoting the English consul of Ningpo at that time to describe the situation. The Taiping are depicted as an army of marauding soldiers of fortune whose only virtues are 'a certain openness' when corresponding with foreigners and their 'energetic ruggedness'. A Taiping soldier is quoted saying "I lay hand on anything I like. If there is resistance... [makes cutting-off-head movement]"

Their tactics are terror: spreading rumors, setting buildings aflame and rushing villagers through the streets. After a while, unless the 'Mandarins' flee by themselves they will attack gravely demoralized troops.

Marx didn't believe the Taipings stood for anything, thus he says the Taipings were, quoting Hardey, "a huge mass of nothingness".

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  • 3 weeks later...

Another historical event that Beijing may be starting to rewrite is the 1956 Hungary uprising.

Here is what Mao said about the 1956 Hungary uprising:



(Note: Beijing officially still has not changed its evaluation on 1956 Hungary Uprising.)

However, a lot of articles that hold contrary view have been published. For example, in view of the recent demonstration in Budapast, Sina.com publishes:



50年前的10月23日,布达佩斯爆发了声势浩大的群众示威游行,随后演变为流血冲突。10月24日和11月 4日,苏联两次派兵镇压,史称“匈牙利事件”。



匈牙利事件是在匈社会各种矛盾不断累积并且长期得不到解决的情况下爆发的。1947年以后,匈牙利劳动人民党 (即共产党与社会民主党合并后的名称,事件后改称社会主义工人党)的主要领导人拉科西不顾本国的历史传统与现实,一味照搬苏联模式。匈党和国家领导人听命于苏联的做法,损害了国家利益,伤害了人民的民族情感。


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  • 4 weeks later...

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