Against the current: non-governmental commemorations of the October Revolution in China

Issue: 
Spring 2018
Author(s): 

Guess who was honoured by the official internet media in China, a self-claimed socialist and Marxist country, on the day of the hundredth anniversary of the October Revolution? Lenin? Stalin? Marx? Mao? Revolutionary soldiers and workers who made that revolution? No, no, no, not any of them. On the day of the centenary of the October Revolution, in a number of major official weibos (microblogs) run by Chinese government, such as New China’s Viewpoints (xinhua shidian) and the wiebo of Guangming Daily, the person who was honoured was Li Hongzhang, who died on 7 November 1901, when he was serving in major positions in the Qing imperial court. During the Mao Zedong era, Li Hongzhang was seen as a cruel butcher because of his quelling of several major peasants’ rebellions, and as a national traitor because of his selling-off of Chinese interests in the era of unequal treaties with foreign powers. But in the official commemorative text of New China’s Viewpoints and the Guangming Daily, Li Hongzhang was described as a promoter of China’s industrial and military modernisation, and almost as a national hero. On 7 November 2017, there was almost nothing mentioned about the centenary of the October Revolution on the homepages of the Chinese governmental internet media: Qiushi Journal online, Xinhua Net, Sina Net, Huangqiu Net, Phoenix New Media, CCTV online, People’s Daily online, to name just a few. 

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