Shandong man apologises on TV for attacking teacher during Cultural Revolution

Zhang Jinying claims he was haunted by guilt and remorse for 45 years for the pain his actions inflicted on his old maths teacher

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 2:13pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 2:46pm

A 61-year-old man in China’s Shandong province recently went on a reality TV show to apologise for verbally attacking his middle-school teacher in 1968 during China’s Cultural Revolution.

Zhang Jinying, now a retired and living in Dezhou city, said he had been haunted by guilt and remorse over the past 45 years for the pain his actions inflicted on his maths teacher. The man decided to voice his regrets on a show called “Please Forgive Me”, a reality talk show that promotes "tolerance and harmony", according to its website. The episode was recently aired on a provincial TV channel.

Zhang Jinying recalled on the show how he wrote abusive words about his teacher, Zhang Yude, on a poster after the teacher threatened to discipline him in class. But the teacher never resorted to action, he said.

“Stinky intellectual, you should focus on teaching instead of beating up students,” were the words Zhang said he wrote on a poster.

The poster later led to the sacking and public torture of the teacher who was forced to wear a board bearing the word “rightist” and to stand in front of students who took turns to humiliate and attack him.

After Zhang’s appearance on the show, he visited the teacher, accompanied by a TV film crew, and apologised in person, according to Shandong-based news portal 

The Cultural Revolution, which was started by Mao Zedong in 1966 and ended after his death a decade later, still remains a sensitive subject in China.

Armed conflicts broke out between different factions of Red Guards, fanatical young people inspired by Mao to "continue the revolution", soon after the mass movement began. Educators, targeted as “capitalist intellectuals”, were insulted, tortured and even killed by their students.

Yet more people have come forward to aplogise for their wrongdoings in recent years. The latest public apology that garnered national attention came from Chen Xiaolu, a former Red Guard and youngest son of civil war and Sino-Japanese war hero Marshal Chen Yi.

Read more SCMP China Insider stories by Amy Li or follow her on Twitter