Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

China's Xi revives Long March myths to rally party
By Benjamin CARLSON
Beijing (AFP) Oct 18, 2016

As China marks 80 years since the Red Army ended its epic Long March, the Communist Party is attacking revisionist history in an effort to compel reverence for its founding legend.

Facing annihilation at the hands of Nationalists during China's civil war in 1934, some 80,000 Communist soldiers and leaders -- Mao Zedong among them -- broke through encircling forces and embarked on a gruelling escape.

Nine out of 10 had deserted or died by the time the last units reached Yanan in the northern province of Shaanxi as much as two years later, where Mao and his cohorts founded a base from which they went on to take over the country.

According to Communist Party lore the marchers travelled at least 12,500 kilometres (7,750 miles) through some of the country's most remote and hazardous terrain.

The anniversary is being marked this week, with a daily drumbeat of newspaper articles and op-eds -- plus dozens of TV dramas, documentaries, trivia contests, radio broadcasts and special exhibitions -- extolling their heroism.

President Xi Jinping has put his stamp on the occasion, visiting museums in the northern region of Ningxia and Beijing.

Xi has declared the party must emulate the march's spirit in pursuit of his "Chinese Dream", a vaguely defined promise of national rejuvenation, and the party's centenary goal to build a "moderately prosperous society" by 2021.

"We, the new generation, should accomplish our new Long March," he said.

The drive comes just ahead of a top party meeting in the capital this month, with speculation mounting that Xi may delay appointing a successor and seek to stay in power beyond the traditional 10-year term.

Evoking the legend is "a good reminder to everybody that the party actually did, and does, stand for something" despite the Communist Party's loss of "purpose and legitimacy", Trey McArver, a London-based China politics analyst at Trusted Sources research firm, told AFP.

Xi's embrace of the Long March reflects his desire to gather the party's passion around him and channel Mao's authority, said Liu Tong, historian at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

China's governance has become more focused on the leader under Xi, a style that "mimics Mao's in many respects", Liu said, adding that celebrating the Long March connects Xi to the "the Communists' symbol of triumph".

But much recent propaganda surrounding the march, he added, "departed from the truth".

- Politics over history -

In reality the long retreat was a "military disaster" for the Communists, argues University of Hong Kong historian Xu Guoqi.

Rather than Mao's brilliance, it was Japan's invasion of China that saved the party by diverting and weakening the Nationalists, he told AFP.

Survivors have spoken of rapes, executions, kidnappings and forced requisitions of grain by the Red Army on the routes it walked.

Two British men who spent more than a year following the Red Army's route calculated that it was about 6,100 kilometres -- far shorter than officially claimed.

Others such as documentary filmmaker Sun Shuyun have interviewed survivors and witnesses who reported that celebrated incidents such as the Battle for Luding Bridge, where Red Army heroes reportedly made a perilous crossing under heavy gunfire, did not occur as described.

Such accounts have been blasted in state media.

Those who cast doubt on the 12,500-kilometre figure are guilty of "historical nihilism", wrote Lu Yi, a scholar at the Central Party School, an institution where Communist Party officials are trained, in a commentary in the People's Liberation Army Daily newspaper last month.

Lu singled out Sun and the British travellers as examples of people who "fly the flag of 'restoring the truth' to maliciously sever history and fabricate lies".

The widely circulated commentary ended with a warning that "this historical nihilism must be firmly refuted".

Warren Sun of Monash University in Australia told AFP that while Xi understands the "less-than-savoury real story" of the march, in "issuing the new marching order, political necessity clearly overrides any historical truth".

- Mandatory homage -

Although Mao's own units reached Yanan in 1935, China celebrates the reunification of Communist forces on October 22 the following year, and the 80th anniversary is being marked with museum exhibitions across the country.

At the National Museum on Tiananmen Square, visitors gazed at oil paintings of Mao astride a white steed and displays of the Great Helmsman's handgun.

An elderly visitor named Shan said he admired the early Communist Party members, whose achievements "represent the indomitable spirit and strong mind of the Chinese nation".

"Today, people's thinking has relaxed," he said.

But several younger visitors said their state-run companies had bussed them in for the exhibit and required them to write a report about it.

One group of visitors posed with a Communist Party flag at the entrance.

Asked if she considered whether the official history was distorted, a 30-year-old woman surnamed Feng answered: "History is never objective. As ordinary people, we cannot tell whether history is true. But we can still learn from the spirit of the Long March."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Duterte won't 'barter' away Philippine territory to China
Davao, Philippines (AFP) Oct 16, 2016
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed Sunday he will not "barter" away territory and economic rights ahead of a visit to Beijing, where he hopes to mend ties frayed by a row over the South China Sea. Duterte will head to Beijing on Tuesday - after a state visit to Brunei that kicks off late Sunday - and will be bringing along a large business delegation in a bid to secure Chinese inve ... read more

US to deploy missile defense to South Korea 'soon'

China, Russia blast US missile defence at regional forum

Raytheon to update the Netherlands' Patriot missile system

Lockheed's PAC-3 missile destroys ballistic missile targets in test

Russia 'may consider' giving air defence systems to Turkey

US military detects failed N. Korean missile launch

N. Korea missile exploded shortly after lift-off: Seoul

Russia says to sign S-400 air defence deal with India

Navy selects radar for unmanned MQ-8C Fire Scout

Medical delivery drones take flight over Rwanda

Historic Solar Impulse team planning drone

US Air Force's Space Plane Has Been in Orbit for 500 Days, But Why?

Arizona aerospace company wins $19M Navy satellite contract

Canada defence dept selects Newtec for first DVB-S2X Airborne Modem

TeleCommunications Systems continues USMC satellite services

SES unveils new tactical surveillance and communications solution

Thales targeting pod integrated, tested on Rafale fighter

U.S. Army patents new blast debris protection system

GenDyn unit to support U.S. Special Operations

Oshkosh gets $42 million JLTV delivery order

Saab buys Danish defense company

Airbus protests furiously over Poland's handling of chopper deal

Egypt military seen as expanding economic share

Moscow says Syria campaign shows 'reliability' of Russian arms

China's Xi revives Long March myths to rally party

South China Sea looms over Duterte visit

Czech leaders reassure China as Dalai Lama visits

Mosul offensive provides a pre-election boon for Obama

Nanotechnology for energy materials: Electrodes like leaf veins

Electron beam microscope directly writes nanoscale features in liquid with metal ink

A 'nano-golf course' to assemble precisely nanoparticules

NIST-made 'sun and rain' used to study nanoparticle release from polymers

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement