Cultural Revolution: Admitted as fault but remained unspoken

Fifty years ago, a socio-political movement known as Cultural Revolution was carried out in China to preserve the so-called ‘true’ Communist ideology. During the decade-long movement, many people who are labeled as ‘capitalists’ or ‘revisionists’ were purged in a violent class struggle. They were humiliated, tortured, harassed, etc.

Many of the purged could not withstand the humiliation and harassment and took their life at that time. Although there were no official numbers on the death toll, around two million, or even 20 million were killed, purged to death or committed suicide during the turmoil.

Besides the so-called ‘capitalists’ and ‘revisionists’, many historical relics and artifacts were also destroyed as they are related to the ‘Four Olds’ – old customs, culture, habits and ideas, which were meant to be demolished.


The Samye Monastery in Tibet was destroyed by the Red Guards and is still under maintenance. (Photo by yuen yan – Flickr: P8079011, CC-BY-SA 2.0,


The whole event ended when the then military leader Lin Biao died in 1971. By then, Chinese economy was hit badly as people had either devoted themselves in the Revolution or been purged. Education system was also wrecked as many intellectuals, including teachers, died in the purge.

In 1981, the Central Committee adopted the “Resolution on certain questions in the history of our party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China”, assessing various historical events, including Cultural Revolution.

Even though the Chinese Government had admitted the Cultural Revolution was a “disaster and a turmoil to the Communist Party and the Chinese people” in the Resolution, the event itself remains to be a taboo in China. In National Museum of China in Beijing, only one photo and three lines of text are used to describe the period.

While for the Chinese people, most of them are unwilling to talk about the event, no matter if they experienced it or not. It seems they are afraid that the Chinese Government might do something to harm them if they have mentioned the topic.

This brings us a question: no matter Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao or Xi Jinping, all of them were not beneficiaries of the Cultural Revolution. In fact, some of their families suffered frompurges during the period. Why would they treat the topic as a taboo after they came to power?

“It is the atmosphere in mainland China which makes the people afraid of talking about the topic,” said Juliet Wu, a mainland student in Hong Kong. “It’s just like there is an ‘invisible hand’ watching you.”

“People fear that if someone overhears you talking too much on the Cultural Revolution, there will be officials coming to bother you,” she added.

She said the fear comes from the examples of people who are outspoken being prosecuted by Beijing Government, such as those human rights activists.

In fact, the Chinese government has keen on prosecuting the activists, especially when they stand against the government in some issues – Tan Zuoren and Huang Qi during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake, Zhao Lianhai during the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, etc.

According to a report issued by China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, 249 human rights lawyers were detained, called, prosecuted, put under house arrest or even disappeared for no reasons during the period between 9th and 23rd July 2015.

To Xujun Eberlein, the author of Apologies Forthcoming, a book about Cultural Revolution, Chinese people voluntarily keep quiet towards the event rather than being forced to.

“The memories make those who suffered in the Cultural Revolution to be very painful and shameful,” she said. “What makes people’s feeling to be more complicated is that many of the experienced went through the roles of victims and victimizers.”

Same feeling applies to Chu Sai-lan, who experienced the decade-long period when she is a child. She seldom talks to others about her experience in the event except for her close friends.

During the Cultural Revolution, her father was one of the purged. He was one of the leading person during the Hundred Flowers Campaign, which caused him to be criticized by his colleagues as a ‘rightists’

Chu’s father was asked to do inferior jobs instead of office work, and one of the co-workers shaved half of his hair when they criticized him.


A drawing of the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. The pictures shows they always had a copy of Little Red Book (Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-dong).

“After all, it is a dishonorable experience and my father has passed away for a long time,” she said. “There are more people whose problems are worse than mine.”

Fred Lai, another mainland university student in Hong Kong, thinks the more the people understand, the more reluctant the people would like to talk about the Cultural Revolution as they would know how horrible the Communist Party could be.

“When they understand the Revolution more, they know more about the tactics used by the Communist Party to purge the dissidents,” said Lai. “They know where the bottom line of the Party is and thus dare not to cross that line.”

He explained during the Hundred Flowers Campaign, many Chinese voiced out their views and opinions to the Beijing Government, but were retributed afterwards by class struggle.

“If you ask a taxi driver in Beijing [about the Cultural Revolution],” he added, “his viewpoint might be better than that of official commentators in China.”

Zhu Xueqin, a Chinese sociologist and a professor from Shanghai University, said although the Party issued an official assessment stating that the event “brought serious disaster and turmoil to the Communist Party and the Chinese people”, the so-called assessment was only just a political decision. It does not have any history meaning.

He explained the assessment only politically denied the Cultural Revolution and the group which manipulated the event, but it does not mentioned anything related to the reason why Mao Zedong started the movement, nor how devastating it was to the Chinese people.

Ding Xueliang, a professor of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the reason why Chinese Government does not have a unified stringiness on controlling studies and discussion related to the Revolution is related to the policies and propagandas of a certain period.

According to Ding, Beijing has adopted this way of controlling for over 40 years, and that people will not be able to know whether they are allowed to talk on certain topics in the coming years.

Xujun said the silence was broken once two years ago, when many of the former Red Guards stand out bravely to apologize for their actions when they are young.

“It was like the name of my book [Apologies Forthcoming] in 2008 was becoming real,” she said. “But the wish burst when all the apologizing voices disappeared, and never heard again.”

Ding thinks the period when the deepest reflect was made by Chinese Government was the time when Deng Xiaoping returned in the 80s.

Yet since the June Fourth Incident in 1989, Beijing changed its tolerating policy and strengthened the control towards mass movements. Ding explained that even though the rulers hated Cultural Revolution, they feared the students and people might treat them in ‘Cultural Revolution ways’, which includes crowd demonstration, Big Character Posters and rebellion.

Ding said that is the reason why the Chinese government would not allow the publishers to publish books related to the decade-long period, and that there is not an official museum of Cultural Revolution in China.

As Beijing is reluctant in mentioning the topic, the youth in China were not well-educated about the truth in the Revolution, and this caused them to have misunderstanding towards the incident.

According to Lai, the part talking about Cultural Revolution covered only one-sixth of the page in mainland secondary school history textbook.

“The content was just similar to what they’ve mentioned in the ‘Resolution’,” said Lai. “Although the teacher tried to tell us more about the topic, it is just not enough.”

In the ‘Resolution’, Mao was described as being manipulated in the Cultural Revolution period by the Gang of Four, to which Lai disagrees.



Members of Gang of Four (Jiang Qing’s photo by By Unknown – [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 bekijk toegang Bestanddeelnummer 915-4570, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, Zhang Chunqiao’s photo by 由未知 – 張春橋34年前的文章,合理使用, Yao Wenyuan’s photo by 由未知 –;jsessionid=52D1D0DECFB723E6F31820DF3C7F9A41.n2,合理使用, Wang Hongwen’s photo by 由未知 – 從劉少奇到華國鋒:毛澤東接班人問題揭秘,合理使用,

Lai and Wu both said many of the teenagers in China have no idea what happened during the ten-year period, which is very dangerous.

Xujun said she once saw Chinese adolescents studying abroad in the United States refused to believe all the crazy stuffs happened during the Revolution.

“The most common reason they used to deny those crazy stuffs was that they believe their parents would have told them the stories if those stuffs were true,” said Xujun.

“As the youngsters do not understand what has happened at that time,” she added, “most of them may not be aware of the mistake made. The disaster may repeat as they may have misunderstanding towards the issue.”

If there are no in-depth studies and reflect done that show the truth of the event in a country that is heavily affected by the Cultural Revolution, people in the country and their offspring will then unable to comment on the devastating effect caused by the incident on China’s politics, economics, society, culture and education correctly. The collective memories of Chinese people’s fear towards the Cultural Revolution could never be reminded. And that the unforgettable ten-year long incident may come back at any time, causing similar or even worse consequences to the development of China.

Further readings:

文革,中國仍然沒有結束的一場革命? – BBC 中文网 (in Chinese)

《文化大革命: 史實與研究》,劉青峰著 (in Chinese)

China’s Cultural Revolution must be confronted – Al Jazeera English



Journalists should keep on acting as the “watchdog” to the society

Journalism has been referred as the “fourth estate” in a society. Given that society in Hong Kong nowadays is full of problems, it is important for the journalists to uphold, as well as safeguard the role of “watchdog” here.

With problems such as corruption or collusion and social injustice still exists in the society, it is not enough to just rely on the efforts of monitoring organisations. Journalists should make use of their influence to the society to investigate, and to reveal those problems to general public.

On 6 October 2015, former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was prosecuted for colluding with major shareholder of Wave Media Limited and an architectural designer. Dating back to February 2012, Oriental Daily reported Tsang attending a dinner with triad leaders in Macau. Since then, the newspaper did a series of reports revealing the “luxurious life” of Tsang. On 8 October 2014, Australian media Fairfax Media reported Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying received $5 million from an Australian firm as Director of DTZ for providing consultative services.

Both examples illustrates the important role of journalists played in both incidents. Even though the monitoring organisation exists, the problem is still there.

CNBC financial journalist Geoff Cutmore said during his lecture in Hong Kong Baptist University, “There are the smart ones at the top sometimes, who think that corruption is fine, who think that it’s ok trying to bribe the media, who think that it’s ok to lie to the media, and to do things that are wrong.” And one of the journalists’ duties is to “hold their feet to the fire” as Geoff said.

Despite the collusion in the society, social injustice is another factor why journalists should uphold the role of “watchdog” in Hong Kong. Some stories done by News Lancet, a news show of Cable TV, show the importance of journalists in revealing the injustice in our society. For example, the show once revealed wages of kindergarten teachers are not proportional to their qualifications.

The show also did an investigative report on the development in rural areas of New Territories, revealing the use of illegal dumping of construction wastes as a way to force the original residents to move away. Geoff said as a journalist, one should “think about what they are doing, why they’re doing it, and who they may be hurting when they’re doing it.”

Messages nowadays are often deceiving because they only provide part of the information instead of a whole picture to the public. This covers the problems existing in our society. And as a journalist, one should make use of his/her influence to the public to dig out the problems, and act as the “watchdog” to the society. As Geoff said in the lecture, journalists are here to “comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”.

Electricity Consumption Sets the Highest Record This Year

Whole picture

Electricity consumption in domestic and commercial sectors has been increasing, while that of industrial sector has been falling since 2000.

Electricity consumption in Hong Kong recorded the highest in 2014 throughout the period 2000-2014, according to Census and Statistics Department.

Both domestic and commercial use of electricity reached their peaks in 2014 during the 15-year period, Census and Statistics Department revealed.


Domestic consumption of electricity reaches its peak in 2014.


Commercial consumption of electricity rises to its peak in 2014 also.

Despite the uprising trends of domestic and commercial consumption, industrial use of electricity has, however, continued to decrease within the period 2000-2014, according to Census and Statistics Department.

Census and Statistics Department showed the readings of the electricity consumption rose from 130,350 terajoule in 2000 to 157,581 terajoule in 2014, increased by 20.9 per cent.

The consumption in domestic sector had a 34.7 per cent rise from 32,234 terajoule in 2000 to 43,315 terajoule in 2014, while that in commercial sector increased from 80,347 terajoule in 2000 to 102,885 terajoule in 2014 by 28.1 per cent, according to the data.

There was a drop between 2012 and 2013, which the domestic usage fell from 41,189 to 39941 terajoule, while the commercial usage fell from 102,050 to 101,683 terajoule, the data showed.

Industrial use of electricity fell from 17,769 terajoule in 2000 to 11,281 terajoule in 2014, dropping by 36.5 per cent, according to the data.


Despite the fall from 2000 to 2009, electricity consumption of industrial sector has become relatively stable.

Readings of the industrial usage became relatively stable since the tremendous drop from 17,769 terajoule in 2000 to 11,143 terajoule in 2009, with slight fluctuation between 11,080 and 11,282 terajoule, according to Census and Statistics Department.

Percentage share of domestic and commercial sectors rose from 86.4 per cent in 2000 to 92.8 per cent in 2014, while that of industrial sector fell from 13.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent throughout the 15-year period.

Links to Google Fushion Table:

Census and Statistics Department

Pan-Democrats and post-Umbrella Movement organisations question the competition among them

Post-Umbrella Movement organisations joined District Council Election this year, and some of them are fighting against the pan-democratic candidates. Shouldn’t there be any negotiation between them to avoid that?

Pan-democrats could not understand why post-Umbrella Movement organisations are competing against them in some districts in 2015 District Council Election, according to Chairwoman of Democratic Party Ms Emily Lau Wai-hing.

She told the students of Hong Kong Baptist University during a meeting that the pan-democratic parties have a mechanism, Power for Democracy, to prevent themselves from fighting with each other, except for some of the post-Umbrella Movement organisations

“There are so many seats which have no pan-democratic candidates,” said Ms Lau. “And they [post-Umbrella Movement organisations] still won’t go there. They still want to come and fight against someone from the pro-democracy camp, which we cannot understand.”

She added that the pan-democrats are not supporting those organisations who would fight against them.

Yet Mr Cheng Kwok-chun, candidate of Kwun Tong (Sau Mau Ping South) District from Kowloon East Community, said Democratic Party is the one who caused the situation to happen.

“We have asked every organisation before we start our work in the community to ensure that we are not overlapping with any of them,” he said. “And they accused us for competing with them after we have been working there for over half a year.”

Mr Cheng said Democratic Party is shifting the responsibility to the people fighting against them, which is ‘illogical and unacceptable’. And that the Party still could not explain to him why one of their members, Mr Kai Ming-wah is competing against him.

“Why does Mr Kai give up the community [Sau Mau Ping North] he has been serving and parachuted to mine, which I have been working for over half a year, causing the pro-establish candidate there to win uncontestedly?” He said.

According to the record of 2011 District Council Election, Mr Kai Ming-wah competed with an independent candidate in Kwun Tong (Sau Mau Ping North) District four years ago.

Candidates from the pan-democratic parties are competing against post-Umbrella Movement organisations in 15 districts mainly located in Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, and North District, according to Apple Daily.

Ms Emily Lau Wai-hing, Chairwoman of Democratic Party
Mr Cheng Kwok-chun, candidate of Kwun Tong (Sau Mau Ping South) District from Kowloon East Community
Apple Daily
2011 District Council Election

Cosplay: More than just another hobby

Riku Ho, is no ordinary teenager. One might think that he is just a typical Louis Vuitton sales, but when he changes into his cosplay costume, one might become cynical of him.


Cosplay, namely costume play, is by definition a performance art in which participants wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea that is usually identified with a unique name. Cosplayers often interact to create a subculture-centered role play. A broader use of the term “cosplay” applies to any costumed role-play in venues apart from the stage, regardless of the cultural context.


Favorite sources include manga and anime, comic books and cartoons, video games, and live-action films. Inanimate objects are given anthropomorphic forms, and it is not unusual to see genders switched, with women playing male roles and vice versa. A subset of cosplay culture is centered on sex appeal, with cosplayers specifically choosing characters known for their attractiveness or revealing costumes.


As for Hong Kong, there has long been a trend of cosplaying since the emergence of japanese culture with the influence of cultural exchange under the globalization context. People like Riku, has started cosplay 15 years ago. He is really into the japanese popular culture including music and fashion, so he started with cosplaying his favorite brand and studied how to make his own clothes.


Cosplaying is a subculture and it is very popular and passionate. However, some people think these people are weird, and could not accept them. Luckily, Riku’s family is very supportive of him.


Being not-so-accepted in Hong Kong, Riku says he understands the stereotype in society is not likely to end. Yet, he does not care about what others think about him as a cosplayer. He is proud to dress in the costumes he made, given years of experience as a stylist before,  to go out and with full make up on. The professional LV sales says he is going to die with his costumes together, passion glows in his eyes while he speaks those powerful words.

What do you miss the most about Hong Kong?

When we started the vox pop project, my groupmates and I had a thought in mind about how certain values or things that used to be valuable or popular have been forgotten or become obsolete nowadays. Concrete things like the big old telephones, or even on the spiritual level, the lack of communication due to advancement in technology. Thus, one thing that all of us would like to ask Hong Kongers is what they really miss. We then took our cameras and phones to conduct such an interesting project and did a vox pop. We have been to different places, asked people we know or do not know to get as much answers as possible. In the end, I think we are pretty satisfied of what we’ve got and we are glad to present you portraits of these beautiful people and their cherishable memories. What do you miss the most about Hong Kong?

The Umbrella Revolution – the true awakening of citizens in Hong Kong

Since the outbreak of the Umbrella Revolution, people of Hong Kong has been standing out to strike for true democracy in Hong Kong. They post big-character banners and posters everywhere in occupied areas, just like the Hundred Flowers Campaign in China in the 50s. However, the banners are not only to voice out their wants, but also as a way to remind others what they are aiming for, and to support each others as well.

During the movement, occupiers demonstrate a peaceful and high level of civility – not a shop has destroyed, no one picks up lost articles on the street, people take up the trash themselves. All these well behaviours have let them won praises from the world.

These photos captured some of the banners and posters placed, and recorded how the occupiers won the praises from the world.

  1. Everybody has a house to live in.

High price level of real estates has caused many people unable to have their own flat. But in Mong Kok, you can always find a free-of-charge place to sleep under the big tents.

  1. Hold it up

Simple but supportive.

  1. Revive the economy by supporting small shops. Charge your batteries at the end of the street

A beautiful calligraphy written by anonymous, hoping to see a large varieties of small shops instead of shops owned by large companies and telling occupiers where can charge their batteries for free.

  1. Blossoms everywhere

Even an old man will stand out to voice out for his wants. Why are you still hesistating?

  1. Where is true universial suffrage?

The protestors are here because they are not getting what they have been promised to have.

  1. Take a look at the posters

Stop and have a look on the posters. Learn more about what is happening right now.

  1. A silent hero

Thanks to him, the occupiers have those big tents to stay in.

  1. Guan Gong

“Even Guan Gong comes out and support us! What are the people afraid of?”, said a protestor in Mong Kok

  1. Yellow ribbons everywhere

Yellow ribbons, symbol of the Umbrella Revolution, with demands written on them, are tied in a shopping centre in Admiralty

  1. Steps

Steps made by anonymous. Just to make you cross the crub a lot easier.

  1. Whose 20 dollars is this?

Even someone find a banknote on the floor, he sticks a note saying that “someone lost 20 dollars” instead of picking it up.

  1. Are you standing firmly?

Some said this movement has not been led by anybody anymore. It has already become a voluntary movement by the public. However, without the leading person, can the people stay on the right track, stand firm until they get what they want?

  1. We come to speak out, not to fight. Peacefully.

A spanish sign stating that we are peaceful protestors, also reminding the occupiers how they should behave.

  1. I’m tired, but still standing

An art piece made by Milk, a local artist, delievers the message “love and peace” to public.

  1. Cheer Up! Hong Kongers!

People put memo notes with cheering quotes and their hope onto the wall of the Central Government House, creating a large Democracy Wall.

  1. Stand by you

A group of people operates a website allowing people from anywhere to cheer up people in Hong Kong protesting and uses a projector to project the words on the wall.

  1. Central Government “and Triad” Offices

Few days ago there were triad members trying to disturb occupiers in Mong Kok. Some people accused the Government to be the one who ask them to do so.

  1. Civil Square that is not allowed to enter

People tie yellow ribbons and stick posters on the fence prohibiting them from entering the Square that is meant to let them protest in there.

  1. Bring you own supplies needed. Take away your trash also.

Instead of delivering messages of demands from the occupiers, this banner reminds people joining the Umbrella Revolution to well-behave, maintain the high level of civilty the crowd demonstrated.

  1. Exit

Few days ago, some anti-occupiers attacked people with yellow ribbon. That is why this sign is here asking the people to take off the yellow ribbon before leaving the occupied area – just to be safe.