Recent Interpretations on Party History in the People’s Republic of China



After the fall of the Gang of Four, many wrongs have been righted in the study of Party history. From the central to the provincial capitals and even down to certain counties, various units and institutes are actively collecting materials and conducting research on Party history, and much achievement have been made. This is true especially after the Third Plenum (of December 1978) which had adopted the new spirit and direction of liberating thoughts and ‘Seeking truth from facts’; (as a result), many ‘forbidden’ areas have been broken, (and) various problems on the Party’s history that could not be studied in the past can now be examined.1

These words by a Chinese Communist historian in 1982 may not be taken at their face-value; for historians there are not allowed complete freedom in interpreting historical events, especially in such a highly sensitive area as Party history. As in the past, one can expect the new interpretations to play the role of legitimiser for the present leaders’ position and policies. Yet it cannot be denied that Chinese historians are making a concerted effort to rectify what they consider as non-historical in past historical research. Under the slogans of ‘Seeking truth from facts’, ‘Breaking down the “forbidden areas”’, and ‘Only when you are loyal to the facts can you be loyal to truth’,2 they call into being a new orientation on research into Party history.


Cultural Revolution Party Leader Land Policy United Front Fourth Movement 
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Notes and References

  1. 2.
    Li Honglin, ‘Dapo dangshi jinqu’ (‘Breaking Down the “Forbidden” Areas in Party History’), Lishi yanjiu (Historical Research: monthly), no.1 (1979) pp.20–32; ‘Zhiyou zhongyu shishi, caineng zhongyu zhenli’ (‘Only When You Are Loyal to Facts Can You Be Loyal to Truth’), ibid., no.7 (1979) pp.3–5; Ding Shouhe, ‘Shishi qiushi he lishi kexue’ (‘Seeking Truth from Facts and the Science of History’), in Zhongguo xiandai shi lunji (Collected Essays on Modern Chinese History; Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1980) pp.487–511, especially p.495.Google Scholar
  2. 11.
    See Peng Ming, Zhongguo jinxiandai shi lunwen ji (Collected Essays on the Recent Modern History of China; Guangdong renimin chubanshe, 1982) p.199; Dangshi ziliao congkan (Collection of Materials on Party History; Shanghai: Renmin chubanshe, 1982), vol. 2, pp. 155–6 (Internal Reference Materials); and Feng Yi, ‘Chen Duxiu youqing touxiang zhuyi xingcheng di biaozhi’ (‘The Mark of the Formation of Chen Duxiu’s Rightist Capitulationism’), Lishi jiaoxue, no.1 (1984) pp.36–7.Google Scholar
  3. 14.
    See Wang Shudi, et al., (eds) Chen Duxiu pinglun xuanbian (Collected Critical Essays on Chen Duxiu), vol. 2 (Henan renmin chubanshe, 1982) pp. 192–271.Google Scholar
  4. 45.
    See Li Xin, Zhongguo xin minzhu zhuyi geming shi wujiang (Five Lectures on the History of the Chinese New Democratic Revolution; Chengdu: Sichuan renmin chubanshe, 1981), pp.87 and 95.Google Scholar
  5. 62.
    Chen Zhiling, Diyici guonei geming zhanzheng shigao (Draft History of the First Revolutionary Civil War; Xi’an: Shaanxi renmin chubanshe, 1981).Google Scholar
  6. 66.
    See Steve S. K. Chin, ‘Liangge lishi wenti jueyi di bijiao’ (‘A Comparative Analysis on the Two Historical Resolutions’), in C. K. Leung and S. S. K. Chin (eds), China in Readjustment (Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong, 1983) pp. 13–24;Google Scholar
  7. and Bill Brugger, ‘Once Again, “Making the Past Serve the Present”: A Critique of the Chinese Communist Party’s New Officiai History’, in N. Maxwell and B. McFarlane (eds), China’s Changed Road to Development (New York: Pergamon Press, 1984) pp. 169–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Michael B. Yahuda 1987

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