Myths of Mao Zedong march on in Xi Jinping’s China, by Rowan Callick. Why history is so important to the Chinese government:
Celebrated Dutch historian Frank Dikotter has done most in recent years to bring Mao to book. …
Dikotter, professor of humanities at Hong Kong University, tells The Australian in an interview that “the party marches towards a better future. Don’t crane your neck and look back because it’s going to hurt. An elected government questioned about its legitimacy can say it was elected. A non-elected government appeals to the forces of history as its major pillar. History is therefore so incredibly sensitive.”
The long march through the institutions is certainly evident in Australia:
He asks: “Who studies China, or did so? Probably not people very interested in empirical evidence. Little was available for decades. So it was shaped by people attracted to the PRC for ideological reasons. Those discontented with the ways democracy works will try to find better elsewhere. Such hopes for a better world naturally converge on China, in an orientalist dream.”
Dikotter has found himself ostracised by some fellow academics as a result, especially in the anglophone world.
“For instance, Australian universities are a no-go place for me,” he says. “China has too much clout.”