BEIJING: A funeral has finally been held for one of the Chinese Communist party’s early high-profile political targets nearly 50 years after he disappeared, but state-run media said Friday it was not a moment to reevaluate the past.
Chu Anping, a former editor of a Communist newspaper, was the first victim of Mao Zedong’s Anti-Rightist Movement in 1957, and was again persecuted at the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, disappearing soon afterwards.
Some say Chu committed suicide and others that he was beaten to death by Red Guards, groups of young people tasked with purging ideological “foes” in accordance with Mao’s ideas.
His son was told Chu had died in the 1980s, but was not told how he died or given the body.
The family finally inaugurated a gravestone for Chu this week in Wuxi, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, placing personal belongings in the tomb in place of any remains.
At the ceremony, Chu’s son reportedly said: “Today is not a sad day, today is a commemoration, memorial and memorable day.”
But the Communist Party, which has rehabilitated almost all of the 550,000 who were persecuted under the Anti-Rightist Movement, still views Chu as hostile according to official history.
An opinion piece in the state-run Global Times, affiliated with the People’s Daily, re-iterated that stance Friday.
“No matter what, we should not consume Chu Anping’s work again,” said the article, bylined Shan Renping. “He experienced a very special period in time, and that period will never be repeated.”
Chu penned an article in 1957 criticizing the Communist party, leaving Mao reportedly unable to sleep for days as a result.
He responded in the official Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily with an article that was widely seen as condemning Chu, and subsequently sparked a campaign that persecuted more than half a million people for holding so-called “Rightist” sympathies.
China has yet to fully come to terms with the later, decade-long Cultural Revolution, when Mao forcefully reasserted his power over the party and the country via public shamings, beatings and killings.
Scholarship within the country is limited to official accounts, although in recent years there have been a select few apologies to individuals for the excesses of the period.