Class issue officially ignored

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 September, 2010, 12:00am

Jin Zhong , publisher and author of the book, said he wanted to write it because the class issue was an important part of the mainland's history of the past 60 years that had been officially ignored.

'It used this class theory as the most efficient form of control to retain power. It was like the caste system in India and apartheid in white-ruled South Africa.'

One motive in writing the book was to fill this hole in the mainland's history. 'There is a generation of young people ignorant of their own history. Some young people do not know who is Zhao Ziyang , just as some student leaders in 1989 had never heard of Wei Jingsheng .'

He said that, during the Cultural Revolution, more than 10,000 intellectuals like Yu were executed. Most of their names will never be known. 'We have no way of expressing our respect or mourning for these heroes,' he said.

We know about Yu in part because of his sister Luojin , who adored her elder brother and regarded him as a model. Also an author, she wrote articles and books, some of which came under attack. So, in 1986, she was forced to escape to West Germany, where she has lived for more than 20 years.

Chinese society today is far more egalitarian than during Mao's time, offering opportunities unimaginable then. Whoever his or her parents are, a young person can sit the university entrance exam. The inequality now is similar to that is most countries in the world, where a student is helped by the wealth, education and connections of his parents to give him an advantage over children of more modest families. Wealth can buy a better school, private teachers and a more comfortable learning environment.

But, Jin said, the mainland remained very unequal because wealth was concentrated in a small 'red class', of those related to and associated with leaders of the party and the government, who hold many senior posts in the government, party, army and large state companies.

'The story of Yu may have happened 40 years ago but reminds us that this kind of feudal tradition has deep roots in China,' said Jin. 'The blood of China's intellectuals has been spread all over the land. I hope that this book will tell the young generation of today that, in that dark era when the sun never rose, there was a young person like them who struggled for the respect and freedom of the individual and gave all his wisdom and youth for this ideal. He can be considered like the Martin Luther King of China.'