BEIJING: The Chinese government has declared it is now ready to give school children and the future generation a somewhat different version of the country's history starting from 3000 BC. The purpose was to undo the harm caused to history books during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) of the Communist Party, officials said.
Present day Communist leaders, who have won worldwide praise for bringing about a stupefying level of economic development, have of late been critical of the period of Cultural Revolution that took place under the leadership of Mao Zedong. The move to undo the interpretation of history during the Mao era is a strong sign that the Hu Jiantao regime wants to be disassociated with the past.
In fact, the revision project has been approved by the premier Wen Jiabao himself. A senior academician leading the revision project said that Chinese history was "interrupted and distorted" during the Cultural Revolution. The purpose of revision was to improve on the "shortages and defects" that had crept in during the last revision.
"Due to restrictions in terms of politics and academics, the first amendment has some shortages and defects, which are inconvenient to readers," Xu Jun, who leads the six-year long revision project, was quoted in the official media as saying.
The basic draft is expected to be ready in 2012 and by the end of 2015. The task involves revisiting the "twenty-four histories", which is a collection of historical books covering a period of proto-history and history from 3,000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century.
The series of history books contain about 40 million words. The book editors have also been tasked with revising the history of Qing dynasty from 1616 to 1911.
The official media also quoted Xu as saying that the period of Cultural Revolution brought great calamity to the country and resulted in massive losses to the people. Xu said that even punctuation marks used in the last revision of history books was used to satisfy the politics of the time.
"All sentences used to praise feudal kings, generals and ministers should not end with exclamation marks. While the texts describing peasant uprisings should be reduced to a single paragraph," he said.
The party leadership took some time to firm up its mind about revising the history books since the proposal was first mooted by Zhonghua Book Company, one of oldest publishers in China.
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