Painting, "Song Binbin," by Professor Xu Weixin.
Song Binbin sat through Feng Jinglang’s repetition of Qian Jia-ju’s allegations without interrupting to immediately deny. Nor when Feng finished did Song deny the allegations. When Song speaks she responds to Feng’s question about the origin of the name Song Yaowu—completely ignoring the charge that she had murdered eight people.
There is a rule of evidence in American law that allows a person’s silence to be used against him/her as evidence of guilt if a specific allegation of criminal wrong-doing is made directly to the person and the person does not deny it. Song’s failure here to deny Qian Jia-lu’s allegations is pretty close to falling within the ambit of that rule. In the end, always giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused as we must in American law, I do not think that this would qualify as an admission by silence (It does show that Song Binbin is not competent to defend herself).
I suggest that the exchange between Feng and Song is an illustration, albeit in microcosm, of the difficulty—unexpected and bewildering to a foreigner—that
as a nation has had in competently dealing with the larger world. It has lurched from imperial rule to a (brief) period of republicanism to totalitarian communism, to fascism—all in the twentieth century. The Great Leap Forward of 1958-61 was without peer in world history as man-made folly, and it resulted in the deaths of 40,000,000. Chinese cannot seem to find their way and seem lacking in the basic equipment to do it. It is not that Feng Jinglang and Song Binbin were insouciant about the law of admission by silence; It is that there is a bewildering lack of common sense—a basic tool that is almost synonymous with instinct and which is critically necessary in getting on in the world. Common sense is in fact what underlies the law on admission by silence. If somebody says directly to your face, “Qian Jia-ju says you killed eight people,” it’s just…common sense…you’d deny it immediately. China
Halfway through “On Song Binbin” (margin note # 2) there’s another exchange between Feng and Song. Feng says, “The matter is clear.” What matter is clear? Feng continues: “The Hubei Provincial Committee was not able to work by itself, and intended to intimidate the local rebel students with students from
, particularly ‘Song Yaowu.’” The previous three pages deal with Song’s trip to Wuhan in, according to Song, September 1966 and whether or not Song authored a document while there (Our Prominent Alumnae conclude that she did not) using the name Song Yaowu (She didn't do that either). Beijing
Okay, well I’m glad that matter is clear. Now what about the matter of murdering eight people? Whether
is where Qian alleges Song murdered eight people—the Prominent Alumnae don’t say. Whether this visit to Wuhan has anything whatsoever to do with Qian’s allegations—they don’t say. Did they really just drop the subject entirely after Feng’s introductory remarks and move on to whether Song used the name Song Yaowu? Don’t know. Qian’s name is never mentioned again in “On Song Binbin,” nor are the murder allegations. Wuhan
Halfway through the article the failure to address Qian’s allegations directly is worse for Song than the allegations were at the beginning because the allegations are avoided. And (common sense) we avoid accusations that we can’t explain.
Continuing on the passage marked by margin note # 2, Feng asks Song:
“From…August 19  to the end of the cultural revolution, did you take part in any other relevant activities, besides the trip to
?” (emphasis added) Wuhan
“No. That’s all my activities in the early Cultural Revolution.” (emphasis added)
Feng’s question unambiguously asked about the entire 1966-1976 period. Song’s answer was confined to the “early” period, vague but as used in the field probably 1966-1968 or 1969.
This is clear avoidance of the question. Whether Song has anything to avoid in the subsequent period, I do not know.
Note too the use of “activities” and “relevant activities” by both Feng and Song. What do they refer to? Murder? Violence generally? Participating in the Cultural Revolution in some way? Authoring pamphlets? Using the name Song Yaowu?
Song gives the answer:
“I would take this opportunity to make a statement: I’ve never taken part in or organized any violence or radical activities such as beating, searching house or denouncing students. Except for the trip to Wuhan, I’ve never taken part in any activities of conservative or rebel factions in other places.”
They are euphemisms. The various forms of the term “activities” are euphemisms for violence. Song gives examples of what she means by “radical activities: “beating, searching house or denouncing students.” “Beating” is violent, “searching houses” is what in more legally picky countries is called “burglary,” a violent crime, and “denouncing” people is a term of art for the period and refers to public verbal humiliation at the least. The “struggle sessions” were a denouncement of the targeted people on a stage in public with physical abuse like holding the targeted people in the “jet-plane” position, cutting their hair in a yin-yang pattern, splashing ink on the face, and putting dunce caps on their heads, all of those individually and in combination.
Thus what Song Binbin has said here is that she never engaged in violence “except for the trip to
Earlier this year the administration of the school formerly known as the Beijing Normal (i.e. Teacher’s)
That was perhaps an improvident act by the administration of the school formerly known as the
. Beijing Normal Girls High School
It was perhaps an improvident act by the administration because it “pushed the buttons” of some of the prominent alumnae of the school, alumnae who have Pavlovian responses to having their buttons pushed which result in more improvident acts.
Immediately below, and the subject of, this post are three such improvident acts. The first is an article by Ye Weili, Prominent Alumnus with a Temper, who temperamentally begins her article by addressing the school administration:
“You published an article by Mr. Harris, about the death of Ms. Bian
Zhongyun…My name is mentioned…” [stimulus]
“I feel it necessary to respond to it.” [response]
The other two documents are transcripts or quasi-transcripts of roundtable discussions among Prominent Alumnae including Temper and The Martyr, Saint Binbin of
. We can report that the happy conclusion reached by the Prominent Alumnae is a resounding one: Beijing
Song didn’t do it.
Whatever it is, she didn’t do it.
Are there mists that becloud this vista? There are.
Our Prominent Alumnae were reared under the totalitarian benevolence of Mao Zedong’s state where debate took place in a narrow channel bounded by the rocky cliffs of reverence for Mao Zedong on one bank and worshipful reverence for Mao Zedong on the other. Temper and The Martyr received their advanced degrees in the U.S. but manifestly skipped any Occidental tutelage in the forensic arts. Readers will find this becoming hallmark of Chinese critical inquiry evident in the documents below and as convenience this writer will cite to the passages.The result of this classical Chinese education and the unnecessary classes skipped in the
is an intellectual product refreshingly unencumbered by the Western obstructions logic, coherence, and common sense. U.S.
The first passage I call the reader’s attention to (# 1 in red in the margin of the documents) is that below which introduces the Prominent Alumnae’s discussion “On Song Binbin.”
“Host: Searching ‘Song Binbin’ on the Internet, one gets very different results. But all of them have one theme: Song killed 7 or 8 people.”
This is unhelpful.
Host (Feng Jinglang) continues:
“Qian Jia-ju says in his: ‘Song Binbin competed killing people with others. A Red Guard killed six. In order to win the competition, Song killed eight.’”
Show of hands here: All those now more inclined to believe in Song Binbin’s non-involvement in the murder of Bian Zhongyun after reading this passage, raise your hands…Song put your hand down.
Cont. “I believe all the 1600 students in the High School at that time would laugh at this statement no matter what opinion she had towards Song.”
And with that, Feng Jinglang introduces Song:
Cont. “So I would invite Song talk about herself, starting from the name Song Yaowu.”
Oh God. Nice introduction, huh? “Our next guest has been accused of mass murder. Song Binbin, tell us about the time you met your head of state.”
American prosecutors, could you introduce this evidence against a defendant?
American prosecutors: “Nooo.” (in unison).
What would you do if a defense witness testified to this?
American prosecutor #1: “Ask the judge to give the jury a curative instruction telling them to ignore the testimony.”(laughter from other prosecutors)
American prosecutor #2: “Kill the defense attorney.”
American prosecutor #3: “Kill the defense attorney and the defense witness.”
American prosecutor #4: “No need. The judge would kill them both.”
American defense attorneys, what would you do if one of your witnesses testified to this?
American defense attorney #1: “Kill the witness.”
American defense attorney #2: “Go into dentistry.”
American defense attorney #3: “Run to the bathroom.”
The reason that American criminal lawyers would react like this is that what Feng Jinglang says here is so prejudicial to Song Binbin as to make it inadmissible by the prosecution against her on the issue of her involvement if any in the murder of Bian Zhongyun. And if a defense witness testified to it inadvertently there would almost certainly be a mistrial. If a defense witness testified to it with the defense attorney’s knowledge, the defense attorney should go into another line of work like dentistry.
It is the passage above that led me to write on August 29, “Chinese do not argue well.” Was Feng Jinglang drunk? What was she thinking? How could anyone with any common sense say this thinking—as Feng clearly does--that it would be favorable to Song? Feng has just cited—by name—to another person who has accused Song of being a mass murderer. Feng thinks it sufficient refutation of the accusation of mass murder to speculate—“I believe”—that other people, Song’s classmates, would “laugh” at the very idea.
An allegation of mass murder is no laughing matter. These are specific allegations of specific crimes by a named individual. Feng says nothing about who Qian Jia-ju is or why Qian Jia-ju should be disbelieved out of hand, with a “laugh.” I understand these murders allegedly to have occurred when Song was a “sent down” student, in
Hubei province and Inner Mongolia, that is not in . Students were sent all over the country in that movement. So how many of Song’s classmates from a school in Beijing Beijing could testify to what she did or didn’t do in or Inner-f!%$#*&-Mongolia? Wuhan
If Song Binbin is ever charged with a crime, she should hire “local counsel,” she should not rely on her friends.
And she shouldn’t represent herself.
To be continued
Fuli said Part Three was "the speech by Deng Xiaoping;" I don't know what speech that is but since Deng was the head of state after the CR I figured I could get it elsewhere and not tax Fuli to translate it.
A good story may not be historical fact
My opinion on the death of Bian Zhong-yun
By Ye Weili
You published an article by Mr. Harris about the death of Ms. Bian Zhong-yun, a former teacher of the High School for Girls attached to
. My name is mentioned in the article. I feel it necessary to respond to it. Beijing Normal University
The death of Principal Bian is a horrifying violent incident at the beginning of the cultural revolution. It shocked
by its timing, site, the beaters’ gender, their ages, in particular the relationship between the victim and beaters. Many years have passed. Most deaths caused by violence during the cultural revolution have been forgotten by the public. But the death of Bian is attracting more attention. In recent years, many books and movies have been produced. A statue has been set up in the Beijing with funds donated by the alumna. This is the first case of setting statue for a teacher of violent death. Many years later when the cultural revolution becomes a remote history, the name of Bian will be remembered along with many other victims of the cultural revolution. She was the administrator of a best high school for girls. She worked there for 17 years. On June 8, 1966, she was beaten up to die by her students. She was the first killed high-school educator in Experimental High School Beijing and . After her, many high-school teachers and staffers were killed, which made the victims to reach a shocking number. Her name should be remembered by history. China
(Picture on the right) Statue of Bian Zhong-yun. Conference room, 1st Floor,
East Building, Experimental High School attached to . Beijing Normal University
As an alumnus of the High School for Girls, I thank all the people who remind us of the death of Principal Bian, including Mr. Harris. A person is not necessary a student of law, nor prosecutor. and he does not need to explain why he is not a Chinese but concerned with China’s affairs. The cultural revolution is a grand evil in 20th century, but has been blotted out and forgotten in
. It is better that more people in the world would pay attention to it, China
This is my basis attitude toward Harris'article.
I wrote a thesis in the title of The Death of Bian Zhongyun.(Bai Fang: The Death of Bian Zhongyun. See www.edubridge.com. The original is in English. The Chinese version doesn't include the numerous notes.) In a book in Chinese, I describe the 'Incident on August 5'(Ye Wei-li: Youth in Turmoil: the Daughters in the Red Compound.
: Xin-hua Publishing House, 2008. Chapter 3). I am expecting comments. Criticism is warmly welcome. Beijing
Mr. Harris doesn't make any comment on my specific points, nor disagree to concrete facts, but questions my fundamental position of right and wrong. I like to tell Mr. Harris: I don’t not accept criticism of this type. It is not hard to locate my articles and books. Readers can make their own judgment.
In its recommendation of Harris’ article, the Remembrance labels it an ‘investigation’ on the August 5 incident of the High School. But strictly speaking, Harris didn’t conduct investigation. During his stay in
, he spent 25 hours talking to 7 people. Most of these people were irrelevant to the High School for Girls. In such a hurry, it would not be strange at all that there are several solid deviations from the facts. Beijing
From Harris’ article, it is easy to see his description of the August 5 accident. On that day, the ‘red guards’ruthlessly punished the school leaders, and beat Bian to death. The person in charge of the red guards was Song Binbin. Thirteen days after, on August 18, she went up to the Tian-An-Men tower and put an armband of red guard on Mao Ze-dong. Mao told Song that ‘you must take up arms (yao wu ma)’, indicating that Mao approved ‘red terrorism’. Mr. Harris believes that the case of Bian’s death therefore attained an ‘historic significance’.
I’ve read a lot of materials in order to investigate the death of Principal Bian, and know the description well. Harris mentioned Wang Youqin several times, and followed this line of description on Bian’s death. It looks that Harris was influenced a lot by Wang. Wang and I were both students of the High School for Girls. Wang was in grade 1 of senior high. I was in grade 3 of junior high. During recent years we both wrote articles on the death of Principal Bian. On some key issues we held different points of view, thus provided two versions of the incident. Harris’criticism on me is somehow relevant to the difference of these two versions description. Therefore, I would rather have a direct dialog with Wang Youqin on this Remembrance journal, than responding to Mr. Harris who didn’t know much about the cultural revolution of the High School for Girls. All quotes in this article are from the article about Bian Zhong-yun in
by Wang Youqin published in Hong Kong in 2004. The open discussion is because not only that the death of Bian is a significant case in the cultural revolution and must be treated very carefully, but also the difference between me and Wang is a possible reflection of some universal tendencies in the research of the cultural revolution.
Before asking advice from Ms. Wang, I would extend admiration to her for working as a‘volunteer of history’, seeking justice for the victims of the cultural revolution. I said so before. And said so again in relation to the death of Principal Bian.
如果没记错，我和王友琴是见过面的，但没有真正交流过。今天，我就借此机会向老校友请教吧。说实话，有些问题在我心里已经存了很久。这里会涉及到当年事件的一些重要细节，希望大家能够耐心地读下去。有个英谚说，the devil is in the details，或许可以翻译成“真相在细节中”。作为一个历史工作者，我不相信历史能够被“还原”，但我相信，经过努力，包括对细节的认真挖掘，可以尽量接近历史真实。
If my memory serves right, Ms. Wang You-qing and I met, but didn't really communicate with each other. I would like to take this opportunity to seek advice from an alumnus. Some questions have long been in my mind for a long time. Some important details of the incident may be discussed in this article. I hope that readers can read it through patiently. An English proverb says: the devil in the details. As a historian, I don’t believe that history can be returned to its original state, but through efforts, including digging the details, the true history can be approximately approached.
I am asking Wang You-qin for advice on five questions:
1. What situation was the High School in on August 5, 1966? Whether or not there was an ‘administration’ with proper power?
In Ms. Wang’s opinion, after the work team left at the end of July, the School was under the control of an red guard organization and the congress of revolutionary teachers and students established by the work team. She said that on the night of Bian’s death, the School’s power authorities received her husband Wang JingYao. In other words, Wang thinks after the withdrawal of the work team, there was an ‘power authorities’ that took over the School immediately. The power authorities consisted of the red guard organization and the congress of revolutionary teachers and students.
According to my investigation and recall, in the period after the work team suddenly left in late July, the School for fell into disorder, chaos and anarchy. There was no authorities as claimed by Ms. Wang. This is an important disagreement between me and Ms. Wang.
Ms. Hu Zhi-tao, then vice principal, and one of the five school administrators beaten up on August 5, wrote an article of recollection many years later. She said that Bian and she were already beaten up by some students on August 4. Therefore, despite the status of ‘gangster’, she went to CCP’s offices in the West District and Beijing city for help on the evening of August 4 and morning of August 5 respectively, reporting the crisis of ‘life in dangers’. She got no response from either office. When getting home on the evening of August 4, her husband saw the injuries on her body, and asked her why she was beaten up so badly. Hu answered: the work team left, and no one managed the school. ‘No one managed the school’ is the school’s situation after the abrupt leaving of the work team. And Hu’s bitter experience with the district and city authorities of CCP, indicates the status of doing nothing or even paralysis.
On the other hand, it seems not correct to say ‘no one managed the school’at all. It is necessary to mention the ‘congress of revolutionary teachers and students’ set up by the work team. Bian was rescued in the hospital before she died, reporting to higher authorities and announced the news to the school next day. The congress did all of this. When things happened, someone must have taken care of it. However, after the work team left, the identity of the congress became rather awkward. Therefore, on August 8, the backbone members of the congress started an organization of ‘Preparation Committee.’ The purpose was to break away from the work team, and manage the school with a right title.
Thereafter, it is my opinion that the congress of teachers and students, as its source of authorities, the work team, abruptly collapsed, its ‘status’ became unclear but the ‘power residue’ still existent, it was more like an office for preservation or staying behind office. By my investigation, at this time, some students who were against the work team, had already not approved the congress’s authorities. Some leaders of the congress thought they had made mistakes by following the work team, did not work on it. In the meantime, the major member of the congress were feeling greatly perplexed by the abrupt leaving of the work team and Mao Zedong’s severe criticism on the method of sending work team to schools. They had a meeting on August. The topic was: How will the cultural revolution be conducted after leaving of the work team?
In fact, at this historical moment, not only the high school students, but also the ‘senior revolutionaries’, from Li Xue-feng and Wu De, both were in charge of Beijing, to Liu Shao-qi and Deng Xiao-ping of CCP’s central committee, were keeping saying not knowing how to proceed. The situation was in total chaos. The fact that Hu received nothing for her visits to CCP’s offices was the evidence. It is not exaggerating to say the whole
is in total disorder. Some people concluded that Beijing was experiencing a strong political earthquake. Under such chaotic and complex situation, it is really ignoring the abruptly changing situation to say there was an authority in orderly operation. Let alone this school was the hub of children of CCP’s high-ranking cadres, thus was more sensitive to the change in political situation. Beijing
I encountered a challenge when writing the thesis on the death of Bian: how to explain to today's reader about that extraordinary moment? I made great efforts on this. Interested readers can read the thesis. In this article I only simply point out that research on Bian's death must keep the rapid change of the cultural revolution in mind. I think this is the key in understanding this case.
After Mao Zedong returned to Beijing from the South during the late third of July to the first or second third of August, he came to the front and started the cultural revolution again (my understanding of this period is enlightened by Mr. Wang Nianyi’s book,
, published by the Henan Publishing House in 1988.). The key word for Mao’s action was ‘great disorder under heaven’ in a letter he wrote to Jiang Qing in July. Due to the sudden withdrawal of the Work Team and appearance of the slogan, ‘Like father, like son’, the High School at this time was in an excited, perplexed, terrorist atmosphere (which was felt differently due to different family background). The message from ‘ above’ was that students had to kick the work team away, and conduct revolution by themselves. Liberate selves by selves. When the work team’s restriction was removed, the only authority was ‘the highest direction’. Revolution is not an invitation to dinner’ is the most popular quotation and most authoritative annotation to the word ‘revolution’. To conduct revolution, one must not be temperate and gentle. This was the creed for the time. In early August, the ‘chaos’, as expected by the highest leader, has dominated the High School for Girls. And chaos and violence are twin brothers. This has been proved by all the movements in CCP’s history. Violence plays the role of opening a new situation by force. In the bout of movement, Mao seemed to rely on violence intentionally. I discussed the role of violence in my thesis, and will not make redundancy here. Bian died exactly at this point of time. Not alone but in pair, on that day Mao was hosting a meeting in which Liu Shaoqi’s direction of ‘no arbitrary denouncement’ was abolished. What happened on the campus of the High School for Girls was exactly the uncontrolled, unrestricted arbitrarily denouncement.
The reason that I discussed this topic in such a detail is that I disagree with Wang You-qin on whether there were regular authorities in the High School. Behind the disagreement is the understanding of the general situation of the cultural revolution. My opinion is that Mao Ze-dong’s guideline of ‘massive disorder’ caused the chaos and anarchy on the campus of the High School for Girls to a substantial degree. Violence happened under such circumstances. As far as the status and condition of the congress, and the behavior of people in charge of the congress, I discussed at length in another article by the name of Bai Fang, so will not say more here.
2. Had any organization of red guards come into being at that time in the High School for Girls? If yes, whether or not that organization was responsible for the August 5 incident?
Wang You-qin’s answer to these two questions are positive in many places of her writings.
My investigation indicates that on July 31, an organization in the name of ‘Maoist Red Guards’(ist guards) was established in the School, mainly consisting of senior high students against the work team. They did not beat up on August 5. They were a minor faction throughout, and never in power at the School.
There was another organization named ‘red guards’in the High School. It had more members. This was a suddenly appearing and loosely organized ‘group’. There was no evidence that this group was already in existence on August 5. These two red guard organization were clearly different. As a student of the High School at that time, Ms. Wang should not have mixed them up.
Clarifying the issue of whether there was‘red guards’in the School is to describe the facts more accurately and present the atmosphere at the time. Students from individual classes had qualification and ability to denounce the leaders. This can only happen in a period of extreme disorder and anarchy. And self-starting activities were exactly Mao recommended.
It’s necessary to point out that in August when the theory is overwhelmingly dominant, to conduct revolution needed qualification. It is very possible that the students who started to denounce the school leaders were children of CCP officials. And after the appearance of the red guards, it is also possible that these students became red guards. But on the day of August 5 when denouncing the school leaders, they didn’t do that as red guards.
Did Ms. Wang know that the originators for denouncing the school leaders on August 5 exactly were her classmates?
Many people of the High School of that time know the key role played on that by Class 3 of senior grade 1. In my investigation, I interviewed Teacher Ai, the head teacher, and several students of the class. They all frankly talked about this fact. To be honest, all people of the High School knew who were particularly active. But teacher Ai still was not able to figure out many years after: how come an ordinary class before the cultural revolution suddent became that crazy?
Unfortunately, I didn’t find those activists, talk to them in person, and find out their mental status of current opinion. It is said this class have never had gatherings. It is hard to locate some of them.
In her discussion about the initiator of the August 5 accident, Ms. Wang only said that it was ‘red guards of senior high grade 1’. As a student of Class 3, senior grade 1, Ms. Wang didn’t know the key role played by her classmates. At that time and afterwards, Ms. Wang had opportunity better than others to investigate the activities of denouncing the school leaders was planned and started. Who were the organizer, and whether they knew the Congress of Teachers and Students. Today, all the important information has become blurred. According to the persons in charge of Congress, they didn’t know anything about the denouncement beforehand. In fact, even if they had known, they only could have supported the ‘revolutionary action’ initiated by the students. On these key questions, Ms. Wang didn’t give us any help. If Wang knew that her own classmates were the initiators, but attempted to water down the fact, I would understand. But I don’t understand why Wang always stresses the role played by Song Binbin. This is my next question.
4. Why, for so many years, has Wang You-qin been concentrating on Song Bin-bin who did not start denouncing the school leadership, nor took part in the beating? The issue of Song Binbin is related to a universal tendency which I believe is very important to the research on the cultural revolution, I will discuss it in detail later. So here I am raising the question only.
In the investigation conducted by Ms. Wang You-qin on the death of Bian Zhong-yun, she mentioned a list of seven people including Song Bin-bin. Mr. Harris, a student of law, claims this name list as evidence that Song Bin-bin and other red guards were responsible for the death of Bian. The list was also in the movie ‘Even though I Died’ made by Hu Jie who was also an advisor to Wang you-qin, it also impresses people that it was significant. So, it is vitally important in Wang You-qin’s story.
About this list, Ms. Wang talked about this list as following. Mr. Wang Jing-yao rushed to the hospital after Bian passed away. As he didn't know anyone at present, Mr. Wang requested the 'authorities of the High School for Girls' to wrote down 'their names'. And later he saved this piece of paper bearing the seven names. Ms. Wang said: 'six of these seven people were red guards,', and the first name on the list is Song Bin-bin, a senior student of the s
As far as I know, this name list was written by Teacher Li Song-wen. He wrote the seven names vertically. When reading this type of writing, one need do it from right to left, rather than from left to right as Ms. Wang did. The first name was Li himself, the only teacher of the seven. The last one was Song Bin-bin. Of the six students, three were of grade 2 of senior high, the other three were of grade 3 of senior high. The situation was that at about seven o’clock on the evening of August 5, Bian was finally sent to the You-dian Hospital. Teacher Li Song-wen and several other teachers, chair of the Congress Liu Jin, vice chair Song Bin-bin and several other students, were sending Bian to the hospital. Upon arrival, the hospital was not willing to take Bian at first, and requested an official document from the school. This was not possible in a short time, and no time could be wasted. Teacher Li signed his name as guarantee, obtaining the consent of six students, and wrote down their names whom he knew to share the responsibility. The hospital then started the rescue with this name list. Many years later, some teachers from the School of that time still expressed admiration of Teacher Li’s courage. Of course, the rescue already couldn’t work at this time. Recently, some the School’s alumna conducted thorough investigation on this name list. I hope it be published as soon as possible. And I just told a short story of it.
This list later fell into Mr. Wang Jingyao’s hand. It seems Mr. Wang’s memory is not exactly correct. This is normal as many years have passed. As a researcher, Mr. Wang should have conducted investigation, at least talked to Teach Li Songwen who was still alive.
The above five questions concern some central issues of the August 5 Incident. My description of this incident is different from Ms. Wang’s. Or the basic difference of my version and Wang’s, is mirrored in these five aspects.
Now I like to return to question #4, and focus on the matter of Song Binbin. Frankly, when writing the thesis on the death of Bian Zhong-yun, I didn’t want to involve Song Binbin. The reason was that I didn’t find any evidence that Song organized the denouncement of Bian on August 5. If I didn’t want to discuss Song Binbin because I didn’t think it was relevant to earnest academic discussion, but like to deal with it now in earnest. This is because that Wang always always directs our attention to Song. Also The opinion of Song Binbin/Song Yaowu being related to the August 5 Accident didn’t not start from Ms. Wang, but has been circulated for decades. This phenomenon itself deserves attention from the historians.
Carefully Reading Wang’investigation on the death of Bian, it is not hard to see that Wang focused her attention on Song, but didn’t make it clear on the relevance between Song and the August 5 accident. Wang provides any evidence on neither Song taking part in planning the action of denouncing the school leaders, nor abusive language and beating behavior. But in the meantime, Song is the only name mentioned in Wang’s article, and this name frequently appears in Wang’s description of the accident. Then, what is the relationship between Wang and the accident? At this most crucial question, the reader can seemingly follow Wang’s deduction: The August 5 accident was an action by the red guards. Song was in charge of the red guards. Thereafter, Song was responsible for the accident.
Wang You-qin emphasized Song Bin-bin’s role as groundless labeling her as ‘person in charge’, and all other events since the beginning of June, such as the writing of ‘the first big-character poster’, the establishment of the congress of teachers and students, reporting to Deng Xiaop-ping. Song was the only name mentioned. No other names were.
At the beginning of the cultural revolution, Song Binbin was indeed one of the major activists. But if we have to name a student as leader, this person should be Liu Jin, not Song Binbin. The author of the first big-character poster was Liu Jin. Song and another student were just signed their names. In the congress of teachers and students, the chair was Liu Jin. Song was one of four vice chairs. But not as Ms. Wang said that the ‘director’ was the leader of work team, and Song and some others were ‘vice directors’. There is no evidence that Song was more important than Liu at the beginning of the cultural revolution. For those who are familiar with the situation will feel somewhat strange if a discussion only mentions Song Binbin, but not Liu Jin.
But consider in earnest, it would not be strange. It was Song Yaowu who harmed Song Binbin, August 18 that rewrote the August 5 Accident, and also rewrote the history of the High School for Girls.
After Song Bin-bin wore the armband of red guard on Mao Ze-dong’s arm on August 18, 1966, she became the symbol of red guards. She no longer belonged to herself, and was even not able to decide what name to take. It helps to add that after being notified of going to tian-an-men tower, it was Liu Jin made the decision that Song Bin-bin would take the 40 students to the stand, while she and most other students remained in the square). Because of Mao Ze-dong said: ‘yao wu (take up arms)’, for the people of whole country, Song Bin-bin became ‘yao wu’ appointed by the emperor. After August 18, the situation in
Beijing changed rapidly, which made the bottomless abyss of red terror, and red guards the synonym of disregarding laws and killing human lives like grass. What other term could generally represent the terrorism of rampant violence? And this Song Yao-wu was from a school where the principal was beaten to death. What else could symbolize better? ‘Song Yao-wu’immediately became a striking sign, a concentration. In many people’s mind, the name ‘Song Yao-wu’symbolized the rudeness, tyranny, extreme ignorance of life by the children of CCP’s children. Don’t forget that Song Binbin’s family background: she was the daughter of Song Renqiong, the Party Secretary of Northeastern China. This family background is what Wang Youqin intentionally reminds the reader of: Song Binbin is the daughter of senior CCP official and is from a school where the principal was beaten to death. Inadvertently, 19-year-old Song Binbin was burdened with a heavy historical and political crucifix. Beijing
‘Song Yaowu’ was rapidly becoming a legend walking everywhere in the nation. In October 1966 when traveling with my classmates in Southern China, everywhere I read a pamphlet, saying how many people that Song had beaten up to death, I remember the number was six or seven. We all ignore it, feeling the story was too far from the truth. But she was ‘Song Yaowu’, she must have been part of beating the principal of her school to death. And she must have killed many people. This is why the appearance of above-mentioned pamphlet.
Unfortunately, many years after, Wang youqin is still not able to jump out of the ‘legend of Song Yaowu’. Therefore, in her story, red guards were already in the High School in early August. The red guards beat the principal to death. Song Yaowu was in charge of the red guards. And so forth. So Song Binbin was the first rebellious student at the High School. Only this can make a complete ‘legend of Song Binbin’with a beginning and an end. So the August 5 Incident has historic significance in Harris’eyes. Song Binbin became the key person who gave historical significance to the August 5 Accident. She linked the campus of High School for Girls on August 5 with the
Tian-an-men Square on August 18. Therefore, it was impossible for her to feel uncertain on August 5 for the leaving of the work team, to slow responded after the denouncement of the school leaders, to dissuade in vain, to be not among the people who sent Bian to the hospital, to be not able to report the higher authorities with other students, but to be the person in charge of beating the principal to death.
美国有一位叫柯文的中国史学者，在他的题为《历史三调》的书里，谈到历史书写时，有这么一句话：What comes after cannot influence what came before （Paul Cohen, History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth, NY: Columbia University, 1997, p.62/《历史三调：作为事件、经历和神话的义和团》，杜继东译，江苏人民出版社，2000），这句话的意思是，后面发生的事情不能倒过来影响已经发生了的事情。我在琢磨“宋要武传说”到底是怎么回事儿时，这句话给以我启迪。我们眼前看到的，是一个典型的“后面发生的事情”影响“已经发生了的事情”的例子。
Paul Cohen, American scholar on Chinese history, in his History in Three Keys, says: What comes after cannot influence what came before. This sentence means: what happens after an event cannot move in front of the event to affect it. This sentence gave me revelation when I was figuring out the ‘legend of Song Yaowu’. What we have seen is a typical case of ‘what happened after an event’affects the ‘event.’
In fact, this tendency of writing history discussed by Cohen is not rare in both
and the world, in both history and present. This phenomenon is everywhere in books on the history about China’s cultural revolution. Let’s take the research on Lin Biao as example. The September 13 accident eliminates the historical Lin Biao and his outstanding military service. A capable general became an incapable general. There are many other cases of this type in historical research in China in 20th century. Fairness is lost. From this perspective, the case of the High School for Girls is not an isolated one. In his book, Cohen discusses the phenomenon of ‘myth’, believing this is an important manner of relationship between people and the past, and affect people better than serious research. A case comes to my mind immediately, that is, the Romance of Three Kingdoms is better known than the History of Three Kingdoms. Cao Cao must be the unscrupulous careerist in the Romance of Three Kingdoms. On the other hand, not many people know the real Cao Cao in history, nor are they interested in, the real Cao Cao in history. It is not proper the compare Song Binbin with Cao Cao. But it is true that people are more interested in Song Yaowu than the Song Binbin in real life. The reason for myths to last long is because they represent the suppressed pursuits in people’s mind. They even can become a manner by which people criticize reality, thus profoundly rooted among the people. Some myths are believed by the people. Questioning them would incite massive angers. China
I feel that after many years of being fictionalized, the legend of Song Yaowu has already attained this feature. Questioning it would arouse strong emotional response. I’ve experienced it after my article in the pen name of Bai Fang published in the Internet. It is interesting to note that the Song Yaowu legend has fans not only in
, but also in other countries. Harris is such a person. In China , not only ordinary people, but also some serious scholars, believe the story. Recently, a rather respected Chinese scholar repeated this legend in an article published in an influential jornal. Cohen says that though myths deviate from historical reality, but are valuable in understanding the human mentality, spirits and emotions, helping research on history of the human mind. Scholars are human with belief in their mind. Sometimes they don’t care much the fact, but intend to tell what they believe. Admittingly, the Song Yaowu legend is a good story, somewhat a moral reflection of today’s China. But a good historical story may not be the true history. In fact, good historical story often are not the true history. As a historian, I have to tell the truth. No other choice is available to me. Mr. Harris said that I was ‘a friend of Song Binbin and Liu Jin’. At first I didn’t think it worth discussing, but later believe the manner of thinking had a problem. For different opinion, Harris didn’t proceed discussion on the fact and points of view, but with guessing my relationship with Song Binbin and Liu Jin. This is not wise. It needs to write a long treatise to explain how the legend of Song Binbin has become as it is today, and why this legend is widely taken as historical fact. The bottom line is that the cultural revolution has never been exposed and criticized. People are not happy with many aspects of the reality in China . Closely relevant to. This is why I look at Wang Youqin with sympathetic understanding. China
In order to write this article, I browsed Wang youqin’s ‘Victims of the Cultural Revolution’ again, and was moved by her standing up to speak out for those who were persecuted to death during the cultural revolution. Though our descriptions of the August 5 Accident at the High School for Girls are different, we share the common goal of reminding people of an extremely bloody and cruel page of human history. We are both overseas, having many conveniences not available in
. At present, research on the cultural revolution is nearly a forbidden region in China . Under such circumstance, researchers with convenience must pay more attention to the accuracy of facts, and remember not replace facts with moral judgment. Political correctness cannot substitute accuracy of facts. Only insisting in this can the author stand firm in history. I agree with Hu Shih: Base every statement on facts. I like to share this statement with Ms. Wang for mutual encouragement. China
Lastly, I like to tell Mr. Harris: you’ve raised a very good question: Who is responsible? Mr. Harris is not satisfied with that all responsibilities go to Mao Zedong. Me either. But different from Harris, I don’t think the tragedy of Bian Zhongyun is a legal issue that is easy to handle. Legal system is not omnipotent, particularly applying to events in a chaotic period of time created intentionally by a top ruler. Which one is the murderer when the beating was participated by many people in a chaotic situation? When ‘revolution is not a dinner for invited guests’has become the supreme creed for many people, how to judge that how much ‘free will’and ‘criteria for right and wrong’have left to individuals? This is not to deny personal responsibility, but to say that things are not so simple and clearly demarcated as between black and white, as Harris sees them. But I also believe that even in deranged times, room still exists for individual choice, not matter how limited it is. I used to ask myself: If I had been present at the beating up, what would I have done? ,I know I would be extremely frightened. I even could have condemned the violence in front of me, but I would never have had gall to stop it. I din’t have the moral courage. The education I received could not make me to do it.
I think that after more than 40 years, what we need to do today is not to ‘catch the murderer’, but confront our own conscience. Our hair is turning white. Late at the quiet night, do we ever search in our own heart? Our engagement in introspection can be individual only, just like we think about it each time we make decision on what to do. In my investigation on the death of Principal Bian, I’ve found that many alumna and I have same question: why the students from the best school for girls in those days, could have done such bloody atrocities? We are all looking for answers.
6. On Song Binbin
1 Host: Searching ‘Song Binbin’ on the Internet, one gets very different results. But all of them have one theme: Song killed seven or eight people. Qian Jia-ju says in his
: Song Binbin competed killing people with others. A red guard killed six. In order to win the competition, Song killed eight’. I believe all the 1600 students in the High School at that time would laugh at this statement, no matter what opinion she had towards Song. So I would invite Song talk about herself, starting from the name of Song Yaowu’.
Song: My classmates may remember that after we returned to school on August 18, many people came to shake hands with me. Some said to me: ‘Binbin, you’d better change your name to “yaowu”’. I said that was what Chairman Mao said, but I didn’t deserve it. That afternoon, a man journalist from the Guangming Daily came to school and interviewed me. He asked me the situation when seeing Chairman Mao. I told him about the dialogue of the two sentences. He asked me to write it down. I didn’t write, saying that it was not necessary to write just two sentences. I denied. Later I talked to some schoolmates about the journalist’s request. They all agreed to not writing.
However, I never expected that on August 20, the Guangming Daily published an article in the title of “I put red armband to Chairman Mao’. The author was Song Yaowu (Song Binbin). I was very angry when reading this article, and told classmates that I wanted to take neither Song Yaowu nor Song Binbin. My classmates didn’t think that Mao requested me to change name in that simple dialogue. And no classmate has ever called me Song Yaowu in last 40 years since then.
Later I always intended to find that reporter, hoping he would come out and do me justice. I have talked to relevant people, but was told that reporters didn’t sign true names at that time, therefore there was no way to find him.
Host: I read an article, saying the School for Girls had changed the name to ‘
’. It is funny. At that time I saw the sign of ‘ Red Yaowu High School ’, feeling bad at heart. I was 16 then. No teacher or student could accept this name. Is it better than the High School for Girls? The sign was torn off after a few days. Red Yaowu High School
Song: On August 21, the article was reproduced by People’s Daily, and spread over the whole nation immediately. I was not able to clear things out. Nobody would believe the truth that I would tell. Later many people from other places came to see me, and they were disappointed when seeing me. They said: how come you look like this? You are not like what we liked to see.
After Liu Jin and I announced to withdraw from the ‘Prep. Committee’on August 19, I basically withdrew from the school’s movement, becoming a free person. All my classmates defending the work team became free people. We established a group called ‘hitting the water in the middle of the river’. Some people called us ‘hitting the water in the middle of day’, as we went swimming in the lake every noon. My name upset me a lot. I didn’t like Song Yaowu, but could not return to Song Binbin, either. People in my group proposed that we would browse a dictionary, and randomly pick a character. A classmate brought a dictionary, randomly went to a page, and pointed to a character with her finger. Her finger was on the character ‘Yan2’(rock). I felt it OK, and changed my name to Song Yan. After that I used Song Yan in the countryside and work.
Yu Ling: At the time, all incoming letters to the school were in the reception room. There was a big box. Students always looked for their letters in it. I was a boarding student, as my parents had been transferred to another city. Receiving more letters, I often went to collect them. I was deeply impressed that after August 18, incoming letters in the big box suddenly increased. All of them were addressed to Song Yaowu. At that time I didn’t know her in person. Now it is clear that the name change was started by the reporter of Guangming Daily. His article symbolized ‘Song Yaowu. But this ‘Song Yaowu’has never been Song Binbin.
Host: Liu Yilun at class 1 of senior high grade 3 also opened many letters, too many to read. The letters were mostly meaningless, and could belong to two categories. One was to pay respect to Song Yaowu, learn from her, and was determined to carry the cultural revolution to the end. The other type was to tell her that the cultural revolution was subdued, the capitalist-roaders suppressed the rebel faction, and hoped that Song could come and support them. A letter from a school in Wuhan said that Song Yaowu supported royalists and defended the Hubei Provincial Committee, ‘We revolutionary rebel faction are feeling very disappointed and angry,’and hoping she will act in the nick of time. Therefore, Liu Yilun knew that Song had a trip to
, and defended the provincial committee there. Song Binbin, besides the event of August 18, many people deeply remember your trip to Wuhan . There are various legends on the Internet. Please tell us why you went to Wuhan , and what you did over there? Wuhan
Ye Weili: I beg to interpose. You signed the name of Song Yaowu in a pamphlet published in
. So we thought you used this name. At our first meeting connected by Liu Jin, I said to you: “You said in Karma’s movie that you never used the name of ‘Song Yaowu.’ That statement was not completely true.” The reason comes exactly from your trip to Hubei . At that time you didn’t like to talk about that trip, and I didn’t insist. I am feeling that it is time now for you talk about it. Wuhan
Song Binbin: On December 25, 2007, I attended a party with more than 10 classmates. Someone mentioned this trip, and recalled what I said then. They encouraged me to write my experience with it. I didn’t like to talk about the trip to Wuhan, in order not to hurt other people. One of my classmates worked in
. She said that many people there hated me. I was scolded many times, but still was not willing to talk about the Hubei trip. Wuhan
Now I will talk my trip to
. Wang Renzhong, Hubei’s provincial Party secretary, was a member of the cultural revolution group of the central committee in early cultural revolution. He invited Liu Jin and I to Diao Yu Tai, and asked us to go to Hubei . The time was after August 18. Due to the relationship between parents, Wang Renzhong knew two of us. He also invited Luo Xiaohai, Bu Dahua of the High School Attached to Wuhan . He invited all of us to Qinghua University , to defend the provincial committee. Hubei
Liu Jin: Wang Renzhong said that the Hubei Provincial Committee was revolutionary. But some people were opposed to it, which might have a background. He recited a quotation from Chairman, and asked us what to do? You said immediately that you were not allowed to oppose the provincial committee. Wang Renzhong said: ‘Can you go to Wuhan?’I said: ‘Are people encouraged to liberate themselves? Why are we asked to go? I blurted out the words, and didn’t think much, but felt it was not in the spirit of ‘liberating selves’. ‘Why do we have to go? Are there people in Hubei?’Then Wang Renzhong asked you: ‘Binbin, what about you?’ You said you could go.
Song Binbin: I agreed to go to
, because I trusted Wang Renzhong. He was my father’s long-time subordinate during the war against Japan. He and my father pulled same plow during the great hunger. My father praised Wang as one of four talents in his army. In fact I don’t remember many details in Wuhan, but pieces of memory were recalled in the investigation in recent years. Wuhan
I went to
in early September 1966. Upon arrival, we were accommodated in a provincial hotel. After us, Luo Xiaohai and Bu Dahua of the High School Attached to Wuhan also arrived and stayed there. College students defending the provincial committee came to see us for our support. I said we had to visit universities, to reach conclusion. We visited several universities and Wuhan Steel Factory, reading big-character posters and calling conferences. We discussed after a few days, and the conclusion was: Hubei Provincial Committee basically was good, with 30% failure and 70% success. We drafted an article for them to read. In a morning, we read an open letter in the Yangtze Daily, signed by Song Yaowu and other 4 people, and were very surprised. The open letter was not our draft but very different from it. Not only wording was intense, but also mixed with prevalent vulgar language. I was very upset when seeing ‘Song Yaowu’, and immediately went to the provincial committee to talk the person in charge. He talked to me for a long time, and cried: ‘We followed Chairman Mao to climb the snowy mountains, cross the grassland, go through the hardship in anti-Japan war, and many comrades have died. Now they try to get to us. How can we be anti-Party and anti-Chairman Mao?’ Qinghua University
Frankly, I was very sympathetic with them, and didn’t believe they were capitalist-roaders of anti-Party and anti-Chairman Mao. I said that we could make a statement to support the provincial committee, but they had to be realistic, too. I didn’t write the open letter. It could not be published in my name. And my name was not Song Yaowu. They agreed that I would write a statement, and gave to the provincial committee to print and distribute. At that night I finished writing the statement, saying the Hubei Provincial Committee was good, and I didn’t agree to knock it down, and didn’t like to see the opposition of the two factions of people, either. But they suddenly told me that my father was very sick, and they had purchased the train tickets for us five people. I worried a lot, and gave them the statement, and asked them to publish. Arriving home, I asked what the matter was with my father. My mom answered that my father was not sick. At that time I realized that the Hubei Provincial Committee was trying to send me away.
I told my mom about the trip. She advised me not to mention it again. She said it was incorrect for them to do this, but they were at a juncture of calamity, had been denounced and beaten up, and had no way out. Under that circumstance, they adopted this trick of taking advantage of the name of Song Yaowu to protect themselves. But I took it too earnestly, and intended to publish a statement. Without any other way out, they sent me away. Listening to mother’s words, I felt to be able to understand those people. Since then I never discussed the trip to
, until now. Wuhan
主持人：我这里有那份夹在《长江日报》中的传单，题目是《致北京、武汉革命同学的公开信》，全文不到3000字，公开信发表时间是1966年9月6日，署名宋要武 华小康 刘静梓 朱培 潘小红，后4人是高一2班学生。
Host: I have here the pamphlet inserted in the Yangtze Daily, in the title of ‘An open letter to the revolutionary students in Beijing and Wuhan’. The whole letter consists of less than 3000 characters. The letter was published on September 6, 1966, and was signed by Song Yaowu, Hua Xiaokang, Liu Jingzi,
and Pan Xiaohong. The latter four people were students from class 2 of senior high grade 1. Zhu Pei
Liu Jin: Liu Jingzi wrote an article about the trip. After arriving in
Wuhan, they borrowed a few bicycles and went to University of Wuhan, , several other universities and Wuhan Steel Factory, to read big-character posters, call conferences, and discuss whether the provincial committee needed to be knocked down. Consensus was reached that the provincial committee should not be knocked down as it was revolutionary. But there were different opinions on the provincial committee’s merits and demerits. Central China Engineering College
Song Binbin was invited by the provincial committee to talk. She was excited when coming back. She changed the original 30% failure versus 70% success to 20% failure versus 80% success. Song Binbin and Zhang Xiaokang started to draft an article, with one person dictating and the other writing. The content mostly was analysis and reasoning, so was quite mild. But they never expected that when the draft was published, it was totally changed, and lots of names callings were added. It became an ultra-rightist declaration. They were all stunned when seeing the pamphlet, in particular Song Binbin’s expression. All of them thought they had to write a statement, to say they didn’t write the article. It was not their opinion. Later, the
provincial committee purchased train tickets, and sent them away. Hubei
2 Host: This matter is clear. The Hubei Provincial Committee was not able to work by itself, and intended to intimidate the local rebel students with students from Beijing, particularly ‘Song Yaowu’. From announcing to withdraw from the ‘Prep. Committee’on August 19 to the end of cultural revolution, did you take part in any other relevant activities, besides the trip to Wuhan?
Song: No. That’s all of my activities in the early cultural revolution. I would take this opportunity to make a statement: I’ve never taken part in or organized any violence or radical activities such as beating, searching house or denouncing students. Except for the trip to Wuhan, I’ve never taken part in any activities of conservative or rebel factions in other places.
Ye Weili: Last year,‘The Southern Weekend’ published an article to mark the 1st anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake. The title is’Don’t let the earthquake to become a legend. We should not allow the cultural revolution to become a legend, either. Song Binbin has indeed become a legend.
Host: In the year before last, I read an article by Ms. Wang Rongfen, which mentioned a story by Lin Mang (another name of this person is Chen Hongtao). During the culture revolution, Song Binbin once wore silk shirt and fancy skirt, with a tall boy student standing by her, interrogated Lin and a teacher of history. He was beaten up by the boy student and several female red guards. That night he decided to commit suicide with electricity together with his mother, but failed to die. That teacher of history has verified that the event happened after the worker propaganda team came to the school in 1968 when all graduates of 1966 had left. Some worked in
, most went to the countryside. The school had recruited new students including both boys and girls. In fact, that teacher of history was not interrogated with Lin Mang. Mr. Lin was not possible to meet Song Binbin, either. At that time, Song was house arrested in Shenyang by the Gang of Four’s accomplice. Obviously, Wang Rongfen’s article is another legend of Song Binbin. Beijing
Song: Let me continue my story. In early 1967 after Deng Xiaoping was down, Jiang Qing labeled my father as the biggest capitalist-roader in
Northeast China. In a meeting she scolded my father of protecting Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, and said that Song Renqiong’s daughter went to to protect the Provincial Committee of Hubei. In early April 1968, my mother and I were escorted to Wuhan . Mom was locked up in the building for Shenyang Northeast China, to be criticized and denounced for Father, and was not allowed to come home, and later was sent to cadre school to do physical labor. I was house arrested, and not allowed any outside contact.
At a night in early winter 1969, with the help of younger brother and sister, I made up a boy and fled home, to seek shelter with classmates at the grazing land in
Inner Mongolia. Rumors arrived before me. It was said that Song Yaowu would kill people, set fire to houses, rape women, and do all the evil things. Many villagers feared of taking me. As I ran away to there and was not able to register residency, thus has no settlement fees, no ration, and no work points for working, either. The youth from gave me their clothes and ration. Later I also got the help and protection from the herdsmen, and finally registered residency. Beijing
Universities started to enroll worker-peasant-soldier students in 1972. At the time my parents were imprisoned in a military farm in
. Because of Father’s problem and rumors about me, I didn’t extravagantly hope to attend college, even though I was a student of senior high grade 3 at the High School for Girls. Unexpectedly, with the help of educated young people, herdsmen and the recruiters, I became a worker-peasant-soldier college student. Teachers Jin, the Inner Mongolian recruiter, told me: ‘Under such circumstances you still got so many people’s trust and sincere help. Don’t give up ideals and hopes. Rumors are only rumors, but never become reality. Eyes of the mass are sharp. The history will prove your innocence.’ A stranger could say such words to me. I was deeply moved. From entering school to graduation, the leaders, teachers and students supported me with sincere love and friendship. They went against the pressure from the accomplice of Gang of Four in Northeast China, protecting the daughter of the biggest capitalist-roader in Liaoning Province Northeast China. I will always remember their kindness, upright and courage.
My experience in the cultural revolution makes me intend to leave the noise, to work hard and lead a quiet life. I didn’t do business, politics, and was not interested in fame and promotion. I only dealt with rocks, air and data, and honestly treated all people around me. But the tree may prefer calm but the wind keeps blowing. Wherever I went, rumors and abuses always followed. I was perplexed, distressed and hopeless on one hand, but on the other I felt the understanding and support from the people around me. They gave me warmth and confidence for life which led me walk through the tough life for more than 40 year
I encountered same type of trouble after coming to study in the U.S. Immediately stepping off the airplane, the Chinese-language newspaper, the World Journal, spread a lot of rumors on me. Some visiting scholars from China reported to Chinese embassy on me, saying that I was attending the American school with CIA’s funding. Chinese embassy reported the allegation to CCP’s central committee. CCP’s relevant department investigated me. At that time I worked on campus 20 hours per week as teaching assistant. In addition, I worked as maid for a Jewish family for 4 years, by doing everything, including cooking, cleaning, walking dogs and baby-sitting. Chinese embassy went to my school,
, to investigate me. The school proved that my assistantship was from the school. My department chair was very angry, saying reporting to Chinese embassy was spying. He insisted that I told him who that person was, and the school would expel him/her. But I didn’t tell him, because I didn’t want to make trouble for other people. After moving to MIT, I kept good relationships with the visiting scholars from Boston College . When the local newspapers or magazines published rumors on me, they became very angry. Some of them wanted to write articles to clarify. I didn’t like to attract attention, but only do my own things quietly. China
During many years in the
, reporters from BBC and other mass media intended to interview me. I refused all of them. I didn’t respond to the abuses, humiliation and comments on the Internet. In 2002, some American friends told me that they read a book of article collection in some university libraries. This was a reference book in many universities. An article about women violence in the book by Emily Honing was a research based on the August 5 incident at the High School for Girls. Honing had never been to U.S. and the High School for Girls for investigation. Her major source was from an article written by a student at class 3 of senior high grade 1. My American friends said her accusation against me could attract western readers, and many western scholars believed that Song Binbin was the organizer of the violent August 5 Incident at the High School for Girls. Thereafter, not only Honing, but also an authority on sex studies mentioned Honing’s article, in the preface for the book, to discuss the question by taking me and my father as examples. Beijing
At that time many Chinese scholars in the
were very angry. They said to me that I didn’t speak out before, because all were rumors and information without normal sources. But now the unofficial history had become official. The book had been published in the West, and become a reference book in all Western universities. You had to speak out. I used to deny any interviews. But this time I thought I had to defend myself. U.S.
朋友们都认为Honing的文章和此书的序言是严重失实的，影响广泛而恶劣。许多人建议我以失职、诬告及名誉诽谤罪起诉作者、序作者和出版社，有人帮我联系好了律师。后经一位美国朋友居中沟通，使我了解到，Honing是错在没有去北京和女附中实地调查，偏信了别人的文章；而出版社和序作者又都相信了Honing和前面那篇文章，他们都承认犯了学者不该犯的错误。由于美国朋友的调停，我最终没有走法律程序，同意了由作者、序作者和出版社在一家著名学术刊物《亚洲研究通讯》（Asian Studies Newsletter）上向我公开道歉（译文和原文附后）。
All my friends thought Honing’s article and the book’s preface were very untrue. The influence was wide and vile. Many people proposed to sue the author, the preface author and the publisher for dereliction of duty, false accusation and reputation slander. Some one arranged a lawyer for me. Later from an American friend, I learned that Honing didn’t come to Beijing and the High School for Girls to conduct investigation, but mistakenly trusted another person’s article. And the publisher and preface author believed in Honing and that article. They all admitted that they had made mistakes that scholars shouldn’t have. Thanks to mediation of my American friends, eventually I didn’t take the case to court, but agreed that the author, preface author and publisher publish an apology in a well-known academic publication, the Asian Studies Newsletter. The letter is attached to the end of this article.
Last question. My friends don’t understand your behavior in Karma’s film. As you have been demonized for many years, why did you not defend yourself in the film?
Song: At the beginning of shooting the ‘Sun in the Morning’, Karma intended to interview me. I refused. Later, when making of the movie was nearly complete, she added the interview to it, and took it to
for editing. I didn’t appear in the movie, but only made voice statement, to deny some rumors. I had reason for doing this way. At the time my son was attending school in the Berlin , and I was working at the environmental department of the state government. After 911, we had too much work at the office. One worker had assignment of two or three persons, and had to be on duty on weekends, holidays and snowstorms. I was very tired. Karma’s movie will be broadcasted in America’s public TV stations. If I had appeared in the movie, my company would become a social attraction, how could we work? I didn’t want to become a public figure in the U.S., so could not appear in Karma’s movie. This was my consideration at that time, but didn’t expect another bout of misunderstanding and attacks. U.S.
Ye Weili: Feng Jinglan talked about the two versions of the death of Bian in the opening statement. I would like to talk about why after Wang Youqin had published an article, I still wanted do this topic. In fact, to do it is an extension of reorganizing my and our generation’s development. I was deeply saddened by the death of Bian, and still had nightmares many years after. Reorganizing my history cannot circumvent this important incident. I am a student of history, and like to put this incident to the historical environment of those years. Wang Youqin had published her article. But I thought that research on the cultural revolution was not too much, but too little. When an event was studied by more people, we would have better understanding of it.
In my investigation, I’ve seen that the cultural revolution is ignored and forgotten. When I was looking for Principal Bian’s photo at the office of school history of the High School for Girls, a worker had heard that Principal Bian was beaten to death in the cultural revolution, but said: ‘Did university students come here to do it?’ This worker’s father was the school doctor. Her aunt was one of the school leaders who were beaten up on August 5, 1966. She was so ignorant as a worker of school history. The situation was shocking, which drove me to do this topic. In the matter of resisting forgetfulness, Wang Youqin and I share same opinions.
Recently some people proposed to investigate the killers of the incident. It is my opinion that our question is more complex than catching several killers. I have been thinking in these years that why students from an excellent school for girls could become violent beaters? What type of education caused some of us did such bloody atrocities? I tried to answer these questions in my book ‘The Turmoil of Youth’. In my investigation of the death of Principal Bian, I ‘ve found it a question being asked by many alumni. We are all seeking answers. So I find it quite significant to ask these questions.
I have been helped by many people since I started the investigation in 2002. Feng Jinglan helped me contact more than 10 classmates who told me what they saw about the incident. Yu Ling also introduced me to some students of senior high. In the summer 2002 I met Lin Jin by chance. I was not in school on August 5, 1966, so didn’t see the miserable status of Principal Bian in the garbage cart. What she said in the broadcast speech stimulated me the most: ‘dead is dead.’ When seeing Liu Jin that day, I asked her the question that had been in my mind for a long time, ‘Did you say ‘dead is dead’ that day?’ To this sudden question from a stranger, Liu Jin answered: ‘yes, I did’, with no attention to deny. Then she explained to me why she said it. She left me a good impression with her honest attitude. Later Liu Jin was very helpful to my investigation, including helping me contact and visit Song Binbin.
I am also grateful for Mr. Wang Jinggui, husband of Principal Bian’s help for my investigation. As Principal Bian’s relative, he kept the blood evidence for other relatives and the victims of the cultural revolution, under the extremely difficult circumstances. In Hu Jie’s film, he took out Bian’s clothes one piece of Principal’s after another. I was moved, and admired him. Mr. Wang made historical contribution. I like to thank all people who have helped me. We all refuse to forget, and look at the history.
The August 5 Incident has become history. It provides not only a typical case of violence in the cultural revolution, but a model for research on politics, history, culture, education, psychology and gender. No only Principal Bian’s misery makes us think deeply, but also those students torturing her, have also displayed typical significance. I remember a student beating up the teachers. Many people remember her name. She was a beautiful girl, looking like Zhao Xingmei, the heroine in the movie ‘The Bitter Flower’. Later she became the most famous ‘reactionary student’of the school. Her major ‘reactionary speech’ was recorded in my diary of March 28, 1968: ‘We must wait 20 year to see who will win and lose. Whether the CCP’s Central Group for Cultural Revolution is correct only can be proved dozens of years later. Deduced from various theories, revisionism will definitely appears in China.’
My diary on April 2 again described that she was criticized and denounced that day. Her arms were hold backward by students. She angrily lifted her head and spoke loud: ‘We have to wait another 20 years to see whether the central group of cultural revolution is correct.’Later we gradually went to countryside. A few years after, we heard she was insane. Aforementioned Li Lili from class 4 of senior high grade 3, who was opposed to the work team, also became insane due to the cultural revolution. Later she caught the lupus sebaceous, and died of drug overdose at the age of 22 after settling down in the countryside in northeastern
. Wen Jia, a student from class 4 of junior high grade 3, nearly received capital punishment. She was released after the cultural revolution, but was insane. I felt sad when I think of them. I settled down in the countryside in 1968, three years after Principal Bian died. From there, I heard that some teachers committed suicide. I remember there were 4 of them. Of them, Zhou Xuemin, a special class language teacher who created ‘Teaching Method of Zhou Xuemin’, and Hu Xiuzheng, only in her early 30s when she died. This is the evil cultural revolution. China
Today, we five alumni with different family background and life experience, come together to fulfill a long-delayed desire – to leave the true memories behind. We know that moral enthusiasm is not historical facts. Collective indignation must not replace rational pondering. Nobody can monopolize the explanation of history, nor hold the truth in hand forever. Exactly based on this knowledge, we are sincerely expecting criticism and correction from our alumna, informants and scholars.
《An Apology to Song Binbin》
-- Asian Studies Newsletter, Spring Issue, 2003. Volume 48, Number 2, P38 www.aasianst.org
“The contributors and editors of Chinese Femininities/Chinese Masculinities (University of California Press, 2002) listed below would like to publicly apologize to Song Binbin and her family for including in the first printing of the book statements that presented Ms. Song as responsible for violent acts that occurred near the start of Cultural Revolution. Including these statements in the book was a serious error in judgment. Furthermore, new information has come to light, in the form of interviews conducted by the Long Bow Group for their documentary film “Morning Sun,” that directed contradicts the notion that Ms. Song was involved in acts of violence. The editors are very sorry for the offense given and distress caused to Ms. Song and her family. The
joins in apologizing for this situation. An errata sheet is being included in the remaining copies of the first printing of the book, and when it goes into a second printing, the offending passages on pages I and 259 will be stricken or changed. This statement has been issued by the editors listed below both to express their regret to Ms. Song and her family for any distress cause and also to ask anyone who purchased the book to please disregard the statements in question.” University of California Press
Susan Brownell, Emily Honing，Thomas Laqueur, and Jeffrey Wasserstrom.
Photo: Song Binbin, painting by Professor Xu Weixin.
About the death of Bian Zhongyun
By Feng Jinglang, Liu Jin, Song Binbin, Yu Ling, Ye Weili
主持人 / 执笔：
l 冯敬兰 原北京师大女附中1966届/初三3班学生
Host/Writer: Feng Jinglan: Former student of the High School for Girls, junior high graduate of 1966. class 3
l 刘 进 原北京师大女附中1966届/高三3班学生，1966年6月3日至7月末工作组驻校期间任学生代表会主席
Liu Jin, Former student of the High School for Girls, senior high graduate of 1966. class 3. Chair of Student Representative Meeting.
l 宋彬彬 原北京师大女附中1966届/高三3班学生，1966年6月3日至7月末工作组驻校期间为学生代表会副主席之一
Song Binbin, Former student of the High School for Girls, senior high graduate of 1966. class 3. Vice chair of Student Representative Meeting.
l 于 羚 原北京师大女附中1966届/中五2班（五年制实验班）学生
Yu Ling, Former student of the High School for Girls, senior high graduate of 1966. class 2.
l 叶维丽 原北京师大女附中1966届/初三3班学生
Ye Weili. Former student of the High School for Girls, junior high graduate of 1966, class 3
Host’s opening statement
Two years ago I visited a famous scientist. In our conversation, the old man said: ‘I heard about an attached high school. The woman principal was beaten to death by the red guards. Later the leader went to the stand of the
, and was received by Chairman Mao. Her father later was promoted. This story made me very angry.’I asked: ‘Are you referring to the High School for Girls attached to Beijing Normal University?’The old man said ‘yes, it was this school.’I told him that I was a student of it, and things were not that simple as I knew them, Then I told him something that I knew. Then the old man said: ‘Why don’t you write them down? If nobody says, the history of the cultural revolution will be more confusing.’ Probably it was this conversation with the old man that makes this interview possible. Tian-An-Men Tower
The High School for Girls attached to
Beijing Normal University was established in 1917, and was once a well-known high school for girls in North China. On May 9, 1949, the High School for Girls attached to national Pei-ping Normal University combined with the section for girls of North China Yu-cai High School , took over the private Wen-hua School for Girls on June 28 of the same year, and was officially named High School for Girls attached to on September 27. During last 60 years, because of it excellent educational resources, this school was one of best choices for girls of higher-level families. In all years, girls of senior officials of party, government and army, senior members of united front, senior intellectuals and celebrities were the majority. However, students from ordinary family are not few, either. My family background is not good. My father committed suicide during political movement. My widowed mother brought me up in hardship. I had no good background, but was enrolled to this school by high scores. Of the 45 students in my class, children of officials were less than one third. Beijing Normal University
At the beginning of the cultural revolution, the movement of red guards was started at the High School attached to
Qinghua University and High School attached to . At the peak, the representative schools were the schools for boys such as the No. 4 High School, No. 6 High School and No. 8 High School of Beijing. But why did the quiet High School for Girls become a hot topic during last 40 years? This is due to two events. The first one is on August 5, 1966, Vice Principal Bian Zhongyun died for beating up by the students. The other was on August 18, Song Binbin, a student of senior high grade 3, put a red guard armband on Mao Zedong. Song Binbin was from a family of senior cadre. Her father Song Renqiong was CCP’s first secretary for northeast Beijing University . These two remarkable events were frequently referred to by researchers and educated people in general. China
Principal Bian was killed 44 years ago. Of the students who had personal experience with that sad incident, the youngest are already near 60 years of age, and those who were at the section of senior high are already over 60. I believe none of the teachers and students who were on campus that day, would forget the craze, chaos, terror and sadness. Mr. Wang Jinggui, widower of Bian, for many years has insisted in the right of accusation. The movie ‘Even though I’ve died’produced by Hu Jie, intensively displays the evidence of materials collected by Mr. Wang. When seeing the children were kneeling down at the side of the mother’s remains, tears were flowing down to my face.
In recent years, of articles written by the High School graduates, two are most important, under the same title: the Death of Bian Zhong-yun. One is by Wang Youqin, a 1968 graduate of the High School for Girls. In 1966 she was class 3 of senior high grade 1, a Ph.D. in literature at the China Social Science Institute, now a senior lecturer in
. In her ‘Victims of the Cultural Revolution’, published in 2004, the death of Bian Zhongyun was the first article. In the article, the killing of Principal Bian was described in detail. The article is very impressive because it is strongly critical and has explicit target of accusation. I’ve noticed that information and points of view of this article are widely adopted by researchers on the cultural revolution in and outside of China. University of Chicago
Author of another article in the same title is Ye Weili, a graduate of the High School for Girls in 1966. She was then in class 3 of junior high grade 3, and is a Ph.D. of Yale University, and currently a tenured professor at
. In 2006 she published a thesis ‘The death of Bian Zhongyun’in English in the U.S. The Chinese version of it has no chance to publish in China, but appear in the blog ‘room of two leisure on the Internet. This article has more than 100 endnotes which are not translate in the Chinese version. These two versions of The Death of Bian Zhongyun, are quite different from each other in details of description and conclusion. ’ University of Massachusetts
Since 2002, Ye Weili returned to Beijing two times every year to conduct investigation, looking for more witnesses and those who had personal experience with the August 5 Incident, including Liu Jin who was the chair of the Congress of Students after the coming of the work team, and Song Binbin who has been the target of the media.
In fact, Liu Jin also started her own investigation in 2002, and has made all-out effort after her retirement in 2007. As the author of the first big-character poster, chair of student representatives during the work team, person in charge of self-organized ‘preparation committee’after the August 5 incident, she, independently or with Song Binbin (returning to China in 2003), visited 110 teachers and students who were at school in 1966, including the victims of the August 5 incident, school administrators who are still healthily alive. She took a great amount of notes, and submitted a detailed remembrance and investigation to school for archive.
Yu Ling helped Mr. Wang Jingyao arrange a great amount of materials. She is an indirect informant. I published an article ‘The Scar of Memory’ in 1966, reflecting and inquiring the August 5 Incident, and joining the investigation from 2007. Since our first meeting on January 24, 2008, five of us have met many times, discussing the same topic. We have kept clarifying the outlines of the incident, raising questions, correcting memories, and exchanging points of view.
As former students of the High School for Girls, the death of Principal Bian is the permanent pain in our heart. It is our responsibility to clarify the historical events to urge the witnesses to reflect, educate the later generations, to have the history be remembered. In the following, I will publish the results of our investigation of many years, concentrating on the August 5 Incident. My following interviews with four alumna are to present our initial reflection about the August 5 Incident. In the meantime, Song Binbin and Liu Jin will tell their experience during the cultural revolution for the first time.
Main points of interview
1. The first big-character poster
2. The time of the work team (form of movement, student opposing work team, denouncing school leaders, Deng Xiaoping’s direction, Majority making mistakes of direction)
3. The time of after work team (establish of Maoist red guards, the bloodline theory on the rampage, students denouncing one another)
4. The August 5 Incident (the death of Principal Bian, Reporting to Wu De. Setting up Preparation committee of cultural revolution)
5. The red guards and August 18
6. About Song Binbin
1. The first big-character poster
Host: The cultural revolution at the High School for Girls started on June 2, 1966. My impression is the loudspeaker in the classroom suddenly sounded, the broadcaster Mr. Xia Qing was reading an editorial. I was feeling an eruption of a war. My heartbeat was speeding up, and scalp stretching. After the class, I saw a big-character poster on campus. Many people are reading in front of it. Liu Jin, you wrote this big-character poster, which broke the quiet atmosphere of the campus. Why did you become the first person of the school?
Liu Jin: That might be relevant to my personal experience. During the period of three-year of the great hunger, my father Liu Yangqiao, then was working in Henan province, as CCP’s secretary of the Province.
was the major area of disaster. A junior high student, I experienced the great hunger, witnessed poverty and illiteracy, and started to understand what responsibility meant. In spring of 1964, my parents were transferred to Henan . My father was appointed the vice minister of higher education. I moved to the High School for Girls, attending grade 1 of senior high. Just coming to Beijing, and attending a school for girls, I felt unfit to the school’s atmosphere. Other people felt I was from countryside, looking rather local. And I felt there was little education for physical labor. Many students didn’t realize they were leading a happy life, were to delicate and arrogant, in particular some children of officials were privileged. At grade 1 of senior high, I wrote comments on the arrogance of delicacy of officials’children. I also debated with the teachers in class at grades 2 and 3 of senior high, and was labeled too radical by the teachers. At that time I opposed the privileges of the cadres’children on one hand, but on the other, I had the thought of ‘I am the only one who can do it’. I worshipped heroes, desired for revolution, intended to serve the people, and to be a screw for the Party. I had a strong desire for fighting. These qualities of mine were presented prominently. Beijing
It was said you had a puritan and cruel life style. Every morning you did a set of dumbbell exercise, ran three laps around the compound, took a cold water shower, arrived at school at a little after 6 o’clock, took classmates for a long-distance running, and did 60 sit-ups and press-ups. You didn’t wear socks until November. When doing physical labor in the countryside, other students carried 50 jin, but you carried 100 jin. Did all these behaviors target the life style of arrogance and delicacy?
Yes. At that time many students took pride in physical exercise and hardship. I was doing the same, and joined the Party at the end of 1965. I raised different opinions about the school’s education. During the first half of 1966, the Party’s newspapers kept publishing articles of criticism, appealing people to take an active part in the cultural revolution, in particular Chairman Mao’s direction on ‘school years must be shortened, education revolved, and the phenomenon of our schools being ruled by intellectuals of the bourgeoisie is not allowed to continue any more’, which made me feel the seriousness of the problems. I had a strong sense of responsibility and urgency of not allowing the country to change color and state to become revisionist. We had felt sorry for not being in the war years and throwing ourselves into and devoting ourselves to the revolution. Later we felt sorry for not taking part in the movement of ‘Four Cleanings’, as did in the 4th, 6th, 8th high schools (all for boys) of Beijing. At that time, we student Party branch got together many times to analyze the situation, and were feeling the opportunity was coming. In May 1966, Song Shuo, the then vice minister of university work of CCP Beijing Committee, wrote a report. We thought it was suppressing revolution, and didn’t follow the editorial’s spirit. The teachers of the Party branch told us that we had to do what the Party told us to, and follow the Party’s discipline for organization. Therefore, even though we had different opinions, we kept our discussion within the Party.
On June 1, 1966, People’s Daily published an editorial entitled Sweep Away Evil People of All Kinds At 6am on June 2, when hearing Nie Yuanzi’s big-character poster was broadcasted in the radio’s morning news, I felt very excited. Now the Party has called, and supported us. This meant our opinion was correct.
It seemed that questions and opinions within the Party branch could be expressed in the big-character poster, too. Without finishing listening to the radio, I rushed to Ma Dexiu who was living in the same compound, and a Party member student in Class 6 of senior high grade 3. I said:’Now the Party is calling. We can speak our opinions out. Are you willing to write a bi-character poster?’. She said yes. Then we rushed to school to look for my classmate Song Binbin. She was a boarding student, joining the Party in April 1966. She also supported my big-character poster. It was still early. Many students had not come to school yet. We started to write the big-character poster. Because we knew the opinions by heart, so didn’t have to draft. Each spoke out her opinion, and I wrote directly with brush pen, The signatures were by Liu Jin, Song Binbin and Ma Dexiu. Then we posted it out. After so many years, I cannot remember the title and content of the big-character poster. In general, we didn’t feel happy that the school didn’t allow us to take part in the revolution. We didn’t like Song Shuo’s report, saying the school had problems with its educational policy. But we didn’t concrete people. Some students recalled that the big-character poster’s title was “Where is the school leadership taking us to?’. The poster was mainly in dialog. The first sentence was: The revolutionary situation outside is vigorous, but the campus is a quiet pond. The school leadership wants us to prepare for college entrance exam . . .’ Principal Hu Zhitao mentioned our poster in the article ‘In Memory of August 5’ of her book ‘On Life Education: The criticism was rather indistinct, some targeting CCP Beijing committee, some targeting Peng Peiyun of Beijing University.’
Originally I thought it would work after we provided our opinion to find a solution, but never realized that after the poster was out, the order of the campus was totally broke. Students had no heart for class. This was different from the revolution that we had expected. We panicked, and didn’t know what to do. The Party branch was afraid of wide influence, and placed three of us in the ladder classroom, saying it was dangerous for use to do this, and we could become rightist students. The earnestly helped us to understand the seriousness of our problems, expecting we see the situation and correct mistakes. We didn’t understand. The broadcasting had confirmed big-character posters, indicating it was the Party’s call. Why was our behavior anti-Party when we posted a poster criticizing the school? That day many teachers and students gathered in and outside of the ladder classroom and very excited, some criticizing but other sympathizing us.
Host: I remember you were besieged, and my impression on it is rather deep. Then the work team came in quickly. This might be relevant to Deng Rong. Such a big event took place at the school. She returned home talking about it, which would have attracted her father’s attention immediately.
Liu Jin: I believe that was what happened. After the dinner on June 3, Hu Qili (then a reserve candidate for secretary for Youth League) came to school with Zhang Shidong and Ma Xianhua, cadres of the central committee. A student took them to the ladder classroom. They immediately declared that ours are revolutionary action and they supported us, which made us feel very excited. The work team officially came to School on June 4. Zhang Shidong was the team leader, and Ma Xianhua was the deputy leader. Hu Qili was in charge of the high schools of the Western City District. At the welcome meeting, Hu Qili, Zhang Shidong, Principal Hu Zhitao all made speeches. Principal also conveyed Li Xuefeng’s report on reorganizing the leadership of Beijing. On June 6, the work team presided over the establishment of the congress of revolutionary teachers and students, composing of two teachers: math teacher Li Songwen and biology teacher Chen Dawen. And five student representatives: me, Song Binbin, Ma Dexiu, Geng Lilan, and
. The first four were of grade 3 of senior high. Yin Pei was a student of grade 2 of senior high. I was the chair of the student representatives, the other four were vice chairs. Yin Pei
It was announced to resume classes that day. Normal order returned. The so-called resuming classes was that students read newspapers and editorials in classrooms, the bell for class begin and over rang as it was, but teachers stopped teaching. They were also organized to study the editorials. The work team’s guideline was to carry on the movement in order, first exposing, then sorting out, to find out the key problem.
Due to the length of time, and I didn’t take any note, I don’t remember the time and content of many events. Fortunately, I was helped by many schoolmates in my investigation in recent years. In particular, a student in then class 2 of senior high grade 2 lent me her notebook which recorded events from 1965 to the withdrawal of the work team in 1966. The contents are basically about the school matters, including speeches by school leaders and the work team. This notebook is very valuable. Later I will talk about many events, all of which are from this notebook.
Host: After the work team came to the school, new order was established. The Youth League branch and class committee of each class were abolished. The head teacher stepped aside. All were replaced by a core group. My classmates talked in private: ‘the core group must be elected, not self-appointed’. I said the same, which later became one of my crimes to be isolated and denounced in class. The new three levels of organization thus were: work team – congress of teachers and students – class core group.
The orderly study and discussion didn’t last long. On June 17, Li Lili of class 4 of senior high grade 3 and other 16 students posted a big-character poster, in the title of ‘Where are the work team taking us to?’, claiming that the work team’s manner to conduct the movement was different from the spirit of the People’s Daily’s Editorial, thus blocking the movement. In front of students’s question ‘why not convene the general meeting to denounce the school’s leadership?’, the team leader Teacher Zhang Shidong said in a broadcast speech: ‘The condition for switching to emphasis criticism is not mature. We must continue the wide disclosure.’ In the meantime, he did self-criticism on his own thought of ‘being afraid of upheavals’, didn’t do enough to ‘let things go’, saying different opinions were welcome.
The big-character poster caused debate in all classes. At the same night, students got together spontaneously and debated on the playground in front of dormitory building. My classmate Liang Ertong stepped on to the platform and supported the 13 students, saying the work team suppressed the enthusiasm of the revolutionary teachers and students. and made the movement very cold and inactive. The work team hoped the students stop debating. But not only the debate did not stop, but also students started attacking one another. First, the anti-work team students, the minor group, were besieged. Secondly, the students with so-called poor family background and problematic, were denounced. For example, on June 18, a big-character poster was posted by class 2 of senior high grade 2, mentioned names of 12 students, giving them different labels, humiliating and physically punishing them.
At the school meeting on June 20, I made speech on behalf of the congress of student representatives, making three suggestions (from the notebook of that student of class 2 of senior high grade 2): ‘1. to handle affairs according to the Party’s policy, not reaching conclusion too early; 2. Oppose accusation among students; 3. Firmly no beating, cursing, besieging and disturbing, firmly implementing the Party’s policy. Teacher Zhang Shidong made it up, requesting us to ‘study, discussion, expose and criticism’, and saying that it is not proper to focus on a particular school leader, and it is necessary to expose, criticize and collect materials. In the morning of June 21, the work team made a summary of its being on campus for 18 days, putting forward ‘switch it emphasis exposure and criticism from today on’, and decided to call a general meeting to expose Bian Zhongyun.
At 2:30 in the afternoon on June 21, the first general meeting of exposure and criticism was called on the playground. At that time Principal Bian stood on the platform alone. Vice principals Hu Zhitao (female), Liu Zhiping, Wang Yubing (female), the dean, and Mei Shumin, the deputy dean, stood beside the platform. The 13 students from class 4 of senior high grade 3 were arranged to stand behind other students, being watched by students holding wood rifles in hand. The exposure and criticism meeting continued on June 22. Violence targeting the school leaders took place in both meetings. Principal Bian suffered most.
Ye Weili: At the denouncement meeting on June 21, Yuan Shu’e’s behavior was very conspicuous. Yuan, female, a teacher of Russian at the College of Science and Technology of Dalian, and ex-wife of Mr. Ding who was a teacher of English at the High School for Girls. At the meeting, Principal Bian was beaten up severely, which should have been direct results of Yuan’s instigation. Later Bian wrote a letter to her superior, describing her being beaten up in detail. At that time one could appeal for justice somewhere, and information flowing was also unimpeded. But in early August the situation was totally different. Deng Xiaoping read Bian’s letter, and mentioned it when he received the work team in early July.
Before the cultural revolution, Bian was in charge of Party’s work, while Hu Zhitao was in charge of everyday’s activities of education. Ordinary students didn’t know Bian well. Yuan Shu’e’s intention was to attract students’s attention to Bian, particular her life style, to make people dislike her emotionally.
Liu Jin: In fact, short time after the beginning of the cultural revolution, Yuan often came to campus and talked to people. Before the exposure and criticism meeting she talked to the work team, requesting to attend it. The work team refused. But she burst in with her son and mother. She had a photo in hand. It seemed one of Principal Bian and Yuan’s ex-husband. In fact it was one of four people, Bian and her husband, and Yuan and her husband. Yuan cut the two persons on both side. Only the two persons in the middle, Bian and Yuan’s husband, were left. She took the photo as evidence, saying Bian had affair out of marriage, destroyed her family. She was crying on the platform, which immediately incited the students. Slogans were being shouted. The situation was out of control for a while. Students from poor peasant families were arranged to watch Bian with wood rifles for gymnastic exercise. Once Yuan started to cry, these students pushed Bian down to the ground with the rifles. Principal Bian vomited on the spot. Yuan spoke more than one hour during which radical behavior against the school leader took place from time to time. Another teacher’s speech was rather shocking, too. She had been in charge of human resource. She had posted a small-character poster, saying Bian was a sham Party member recommended by Liu Ren. Yuan said Bian had an affair with her ex-husband, this teacher said Bian was a sham Party member. Like two heavy bombs, these two claims were inciting great angers among students.
In front of the abrupt violence, the work team proceed to dissuade, pointing out ‘don’t beat her in the future, because exposure will knock her down.’ The notes by the student of senior high grade 2 says that the work team announced near the over of the meeting: ‘we have consulted our superiors, and decided to stop her work from now on.’After the meeting of exposure and criticism, Principal went to the Beijing Hotel again to attend meeting, and reported the events to higher authorities. On July 3, she wrote letters to Deng Xiaoping and Li Xuefeng, attaching a report about how Yuan Shu’e broke the cultural revolution of the High School, requesting the higher authorities send people to investigate and handle. Later Yuan always provoked students, including taking students to Bian’s house to post big-character poster. She was seen on site at the August 5 incident.
Why did Yuan Shu’e hate Principle Bian so much? Was their relationship complicated? Yu Ling, you helped Mr. Wang Jingyao to arrange a great amount of materials, and saw Yuan’s letter, too. Please tell us something about it.
Yuan was a teacher of Russian at the Science and Technology College of Dalian. In 1959, she and Principal Bian made acquaintance when they stayed in the same hospital. Teachers of English were needed in the High School in 1963. Mr. Ding, Yuan’s husband, then with the air force in
, had the desire to the High School. Recommended by Principal Bian, and discussed and approved by the school’s leadership, Ding was transferred to the High School teaching English. During this time, Yuan and Ding quarreled a lot. Principal Bian mediated somehow, but Yuan and Ding divorced eventually. Yuan asked the High School’s leadership many time, that Ding’s salary be deducted to help her family. Principal Bian thought the matter should be handled according the court decision, thus didn’t do as requested. She started to charge to relevant offices. In 1966, she sent a letter of thousands of words, to Chairman Mao, the central committee of the youth league, the Party committee of Beijing . In the letter, she fabricated facts, interpreted out of context, and lifted all her own personal hatred to the level of politics. Beijing Normal University
After the beginning of the cultural revolution, Yuan’s letter of accusation was forwarded to the work team. Originally the work team’s attitude to Principal Bian was relative mild, thinking the materials for criticizing Bian was not sufficient. Later, on the criticism and denouncement meetings on June 21 and 22, the work team’s attitude changed. It didn’t prevent Yuan from going up to the platform to cry and charge, to incite the students. Principal was very resentful for Yuan attending the meeting. She questioned the work team for that, saying that Bian might have various problems, but not in life style.
In 1979, Yuan Shu’e was arrested by police in Beijing for revenge. Later the prosecutor thought that Yuan fabricated facts, slandered other people, has committed the crime of slander, but it had been too long ago, and decided not to prosecute. Mr. Wang Jinggui refused to accept the judgment, tried his utmost to appeal, and was supported by many people, but didn’t get any result.
At the time, the whole society was mad by losing rationality, any one intending to revenge for personal reason, as long as he was qualified, such as having good family background or other current factors, he would be able to accomplish it.
A few years ago I saw the big-character poster posted on Bian’s house in Hu Jie’s movie. The language was rude and malicious, the pictures were dirty. I talked to students to investigate what happened, it is proved that Yuan took the students to Bian’s house and did it.
The school returned to normal after two days’meeting of criticism, continuing the original pace of movement with exposure and criticism by big-character posters. On June 27, 18 students, headed by my classmate Liang Ertong, posted second anti-work team big-character poster, titled ‘Carry the proletarian revolution to the end’， but didn’t get much response. They didn’t come to school most of the time, but often got together discussing the situation, or went to other high schools in Haidian District. Liang’s father was working for air force, and supported their activities. So they became for determined, were not afraid of isolation, and felt very honored. All the 18 girls were senior high students. Four or five were my classmates. In early July, they set up the earliest student organization in the High School for Girls, ‘Red Flag’. Bu Dahua of the High School attached to Qinghua University remembered that before the military training on July 19, the ;Red Flag’from the High School for Girls went to his school many times.
After the big-character poster was posted on June 27, the work team talked to the authors. If they were from cadre or military official’s family, the work team would locate their parents through organization, and asked them to work on their children. At the end of June, two students for senior high grade 1 turned in a letter from Kuai Dafu. The letter analyzed the situation, saying time and again that if the work team was not reactionary, but obstructed the movement, the leftist revolutionary should take its power away, and drive it out.
Host: In the Haidian District, headed by the High School attached to
Qinghua University and High School attached to , the students opposing school leaders, and later continued to oppose the work team. They were rather theorized, and rationalized their behavior again and again, indicating their clear thinking and explicit direction. You opposed the school leadership but was relied by the work team whose attitude toward the school leadership was ambiguous at the first, then hesitant. You returned to the ‘main stream’, becoming the opposite of anti-work team students and representatives of the majority. Was this anomaly relevant to the Deng Xiaoping’s support? Please tell us about your reporting to Deng Xiaoping at his home. Beijing University
Liu Jin: In the morning of July 5, Hu Qili and Zhang Shidong of the work team took me and Song Binbin to ZhongNanHai to report to Deng Xiaoping about the movement. We were in Deng Xiaoping’s home, at present were Deng and his wife Zhuo Lin. The main reporter was Zhang Shidong. Hu Qili complimented.
Host: Why did they take you two but not other student to see Deng?
Liu Jin: Deng selected us. Due to work relations, Deng knew my parents well. That day the moment Deng saw me, he said: ‘Liu Yangqiao is a good comrade.’Jiang Nanxiang, the minister of higher education, was suspended in early June. My father was suspended a week later, on June 15. Therefore, I was very excited to hear Deng’s comment on my father, so didn’t hear how Hu Qili and Zhong Shidong started the report. I was most impressed by Deng’s two interruptions. The first time was when Zhang reported about Yuan Shu’e rushing into the meeting place at the exposure and criticism meeting. Deng asked what this person was. Zhang said it was a teacher from another school. She came to the meeting without being notified. Deng said it was a malefactor. The second time was when Zhang was talking about the opposing the work team on 17th an 27th. Deng said it was good to organize the debate. Song Binbin and I didn’t understand, saying students were not interested in to at all. Those opposing the work team didn’t rarely come to school. Those coming to school were all supporting the work team. Deng said that the debate made sense. It could educate people. Debate without attendance was allowed. Deng said there was leftist, middle, and rightist among the students, which must be aligned at the late stage of the movement.
At last, Deng Xiaoping gave three directions. The first one was that students are not allowed to set up organizations outside of the Party and Youth League. At that time, student organizations such as red guards had already appeared in the Haidian District, underground though. Deng emphasized that the illegal student organizations such as red guards had to be replaced by Party and Youth League organizations. It was necessary to attract students with good grades, thinking to Youth League or student association, to strip the leaders off the illegal student organizations. Those would not able to disturb without market. Secondly, it was necessary for Party organization to resume work, and rely on the school’s Party organization. The third topic was about the teachers of the High School. He said it was necessary to liberate teachers who had genuine knowledge, and let them work. He mentioned Wang Mingxia, Zhang Yushou, both being expert-class math teachers, were excellent teachers.
Song Binbin: Deng Xiaoping also said that we should only criticize one or two capitalist-roaders at school, but not too many. He said that otherwise we would own too much debt, and be not able to pay back. As Zhang Shidong reported to him about Bian Zhongyun and Hu Zhitao’s problems, he said that it was enough to criticize one or two people on the top, and not criticize the others. Later he said that teachers were all good. He said where so much revisionism came from? If there were so much, how could we have trained so many professional people during the 17 years? Chairman Mao’s daughter was trained in the High School for Girls. Was she trained by bad teachers?
It had been said that the cultural revolution would be over in half a year. Deng’s speech made one feel that he like it to be over as soon as possible.
Ye Weili: In fact, the High School for Girls was an ovservation spot for Deng Xiaoping, and the
First High School attached was a spot for Liu Shaoqi. They obtained information about the movement through these two schools. The manner of Liu and Deng directing the cultural revolution was ‘four cleanings’plus ‘anti-rightist’. Place cadres in different classes. Bian was placed in Class 4. Use anti-rightist method to reactionary students. Those students who opposed the work team might become rightist students. Beijing Normal University
Liu Jin: In the afternoon of July 5, Zhang Shidong hosted a general meeting, mobilizing and arranging a debate, with the subject being ‘Whether the work team’s leadership is in need for the movement’. The preparation was on July 6. A half day of each July 7, 8 and 9 was for debate. Debate on absence was allowed. The targets of debate were Li Lili, Liang Ertong, Wang Nanfen and others. Liang Ertong didn’t come to school, thus was absent from the debate.
Host: I remember the topic was lifted to the level of ‘opposing usurping power’. I was an insignificant person in the class, and was not opposed the work team, but was suddenly exposed and criticized on July 15. I was accused of intending to usurp the power as I had said the core group was self-appointed, and of hating cadres’s children as I talked about them behind their back, of hating the Party’s class line. Activists of the movement could ‘join the Youth League in battle’. All these were the work team’s actions to implement Deng’s directions.
Liu Jin: After the three successive meetings of debate, the school started to arrange next task: group training of teacher and military training of students. Most of the students were sent to Xingtai for military training. All the teachers were put together for training at the
. In the meaning, a handful of problematic students who were not qualified for the military training were sent to suburb to do physical labor. Then it was ready re resume classes. Principal Hu wrote about the group training in the ‘In Memory of August 5 Incident’: The work team took all school leaders and teachers to Mashenmiao Elementary School in Baiduizi for training. Going home was not allowed. Meetings were hosted by student representatives. Everyone had to prepare to ‘take a shower and go downstairs.’, actually everyone had to get through an ordeal. The training was over on July 28. The trainees returned to school on July 29. Mashenmiao Elementary School
Ye Weili: At that time students were divided into three groups. A small group of backbone students took part in the teacher training at Mashenmiao. A small of problematic students went to the suburb for physical labor. Most students went to Xingtao for military training. The training came to an end suddenly. The party to celebrate the Army’s Day on August 1 was changed to seeing-off party. We received ‘positive education’during the military training. Squad leader cared students. No one was discriminated against due to family background. The military was suddenly over. We had to leave immediately. Students were all surprised, and some were crying.
Liu Jin: Teacher Wang Runzhi, vice leader of the work team who took the students to training, was surprised, too. She didn’t know what happened in Beijing.
, vice chair of student representatives, went for military training, too. In the train returning to Yin Pei , she was not able to figure out what really happened in Beijng, and was feeling rather uneasy. The army of military training returned to Beijing on August 1. Teacher Wang Runzhi led the students to walk from railway station back to school. Immediately we saw couples were posted everywhere. Teacher Wang completely shocked, not understanding what happened. Beijing
Ye Weili: We walked back to school from Yongdingmen Railway Station. In those years, it was normal to walk in this way. Upon arriving at school, the school was entirely different after we were away from it for 10 days. Most big-character posters supported the couplet ‘Like father, like son’. The couplet shocked people a lot. Posters concerning the work team seemed very few. Immediately arriving school from the railway station, we were told that the work team would leave. I remember the teacher Wang’s surprising facial expression. We were totally shocked by the couplet plus work team’s leaving.
主持人：我们“坏学生”下乡劳动比军训的大队人马回来得早。学校的气氛已经有些恐怖和惊悚了，这是我的感觉，因为心虚。当时宿舍楼大门口贴的对联（老子英雄儿好汉 / 老子反动儿混蛋 / 横批：历来如此）特别醒目，看一眼就心跳半天。大字报也是“自来红们站起来”之类，宿舍楼还贴了一长溜谭力夫的讲话，通篇是讲解那个对联，我一直以为对联是他发明的，后来看印红标的书，才知道最早出于北大附中红旗战斗小组。
Host: We ‘bad students’ who went to countryside to work returned to school earlier than those went for military training. There was atmosphere of terror at school. This was my feeling, as I was afraid. At the time, the couplet ‘Like father, like son, summary: always being so.’was posted on the door of the dormitory building, looking extremely striking. My heartbeat speeded up whenever looking at it. The big-character posters were the type of ‘born-red children stand up’. Tan Lifu’s speech explaining the couplet was posted on the dormitory building. I used to believe he was the original author of the couplet, but later realized that the earliest version was from the ‘Red Flag Group’ of the High School attached Beijing University, by Yin Changbiao.
Ye Weili: In perspective of Mao Zedong’s arrangement, the appearance of the couplet might have disturbed his plan. I think his real intention was to focus attacks on the line of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. But the couplet’s impact on the student group, in particular the high school students, was too great to be underestimated. Not only it mobilized the students with family background of‘five red groups’ which are revolutionary cadre, revolutionary military man, revolutionary martyr, worker and poor peasant. The couplet made them feel that they were by birth later revolutionary generation. Everything under sky is ours, which led some people later to do whatever they wanted, seriously dividing the student group, which silence people of non-red five classes. On the other hand, the students from family backgrounds of‘five black groups’which were landowners, rich peasants, anti-revolutionaries, malefactors, ultra-rightists,
Liu Jin: Two meetings were called before students returned from the military training. On July 29 the work team withdrawal meeting was called in the People’s Meeting Hall. Once Chairman Mao appeared, applauses were thundering. At that meeting Liu and Deng said that senior revolutionaries encountered new problems. Mao said that the work team is fire fighters, suppressing the mass to revolve. Sending work team was a mistake of direction. In the afternoon of July 30, the work team called a school meeting. Tape of the leaders’speeches were played, then work team’s withdrawal for the High School for Girls was announced. The students would be allowed the liberate themselves, and conduct revolution by themselves, too.
Host: The work team, the highest level leadership at school, was away due to the mistake of direction. The congress of teachers and students therefore lost the rationality of survival. The school again came to a time power vacuum. This is the most dangerous period of time.
2. Post-work team period
Host: During the week after the work team withdrawal to August 5, the appearance of the couplet made the theory of bloodline absolutely dominant. Students were divided into ‘red five groups’and black five groups’. The students in between were not feeling good, either. Did anything else take place?
Lin Jin: On July 31, a big-character poster was posted announcing the establishment of Maoiest Red Guards. It had been ‘Red Flag’. They became the revolutionary leftists, as they firmly opposed the work team.
At that time on campus beside the couplet there were also big-character posters against the work team. Some students went to the central committee of the Youth League two or three days after the work team left, and took Zhang Shidong and Ma Xianhua to school, and locked them up for more than 10 days, asking the to expose problems. According Teacher Wang Runzhi’s recall, on August 5, some students said to Zhang Shidong and Ma Xianhua: you’d better truly confess, or will follow Bian Zhongyun.’Some students witnessed that during the seizing and struggling meeting for the school leadership, Zhang Shidong was ordered to watch, and was told that if not honestly confessing, his end would be the same. :
Host: My classmates also proved that on the scene of August 5 incident, Zhang Shidong and Ma Xianhua were threatened. I witnessed that the establishment announcement of Maoist Red Guards, black letters on red paper, rather eye-catching, was posted on the bulletin board beside the dining hall. Its title was ‘the establishment announcement of Maoist red guards. Its guide principles were explicit, had several policies for organization, emphasizing the Party’s ‘looking at background, but not looking at it only, stressing the class presence.’. People of non-five-red-groups could apply as long as behaving well. At the time when the couplet ‘like father, like son’was so overwhelming, I was deeply impressed by this announcement, and had a warm feeling at heart. At the time the campus was unfrequented, as most students had not come back from the military training.
Liu Jin: After the withdrawal of the work team, most students habitually came to school, reading, writing and copying big-character posters whose main contents including criticizing the mistakes of the work team and debating the couplet. In the process of debating on the couplet in each class, students with poor family background had lost the right of speech. Some students only came when they wanted to, and went to other school to establish ties if they didn’t like coming to school.
Host: Losing right of speech were not only those students with poor family background, but also most who were non-red five groups. The core group in my class, the lowest-level of authorities, did not disband, because they were from families of five red groups, and the couplet strengthened self-confidence and cohesion. Not knowing the situation in other classes, I knew that order was still maintained in my class. The core group notified on August 4 that every one had to come the next for a class meeting. I thought they would criticize me again, so didn’t go to school on August 5. In the afternoon two classmates with good family background came to my house, asking why I played truant. I pretended a headache, but later followed them to school. In that morning, the couplet was debated in class. Many students were humiliated due to their poor family backgrounds.
Ye Weili: Feng Jinglan’s reminder about the core group is very important. She is quite sensitive on this issue, because as a ‘problematic’student, she felt its power directly. The core group of class was not like the congress of teachers and students at the school level, and was not set up by the work team. After the abrupt withdrawal of the work team in late July, the class core group was not affected. On the contrary, it was encouraged by the couplet. As the congress of teachers and students was losing power, the authorities of class core group was strengthened. At the time, that many classes criticized and denounced students of poor family background was initiated by the class core groups. Class 3 of senior high grade 1 proposed to criticize and denounce the school leadership. Did the class core group play any role in it?
Liu Jin: Because not in class, we didn’t know the circumstance of each class. Song Binbin and I were at school every day, always being surrounded by some students asking what to do next. What to do next? I didn’t know. I didn’t understand why I threw myself into the revolution, but made mistakes of direction and line. I was feeling perplexed. After making mistakes and falling down, one could stand up and work again. But what was the direction? What things to do? I had no idea. The people of the congress of teachers and students had changed their attitudes at that time.
In her ‘In memory of August 5, Principal Hu describes the students beating up teachers on August 4. I didn’t hear anything at that time. Principal wrote that when the school leaders were studying in the office, seven to eight students suddenly dashed in, foul-mouthing, ‘some were carrying sticks, some belts, ruthlessly whipped us.’In the evening, her husband, then working at the ministry of education, saw the bruises on her body, asked: ‘How come your school is in such a disorder?’Hu answered: ‘The work team is gone. No one is managing. What can be done?’’Please don’t go to school tomorrow.’’I am the principal. It is no good that I don’t go to school.’On the other hand, In her life time, Principal Hu never give the names of those seven or eight students. There is written account on the circumstances after Principal Bian went home that day. In general, they all felt that life was in danger.
Host: Several changes took place during those days on campus. The first one was the establishment of the Maoist Red Guards. The second change was the bloodline theory profoundly split the students. The third one was under anarchy the leadership was facing dangers.