"Let Hundreds of Schools Contend"… Wait, What Year Is It?

In a speech on Tuesday in Beijing, President Hu Jintao addressed the China Writers’ Association. In his speech, Hu borrowed a famous quotation from Chairman Mao. Xinhua English reports on the message that Hu delivered without drawing attention to the historical significance of the words uttered:

In his speech, the president called on Chinese writers and artists to persist in the principles of “Serve the People and Serve Socialism,” “Let All Flowers Bloom Together” and “Let Hundreds of Schools Contend.”

He advised them to get close to the realities and lives of the masses, uphold the spiritual torch of the Chinese nationality, and produce a greater number of excellent works that live up to the history, the times and the people.

He expected the writers and artists to create a new dawn for literature and art, and use their wisdom and power to promote the development and prosperity of the socialist culture, noting that artistic undertakings are an important part of the socialist cause with China’s own characteristics and a major part of socialist culture.

McClatchy’s China Rises blogger Tom Lasseter examines Hu’s anachronistic language:

Mao Zedong, 1956: “Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend”

That now infamous Mao slogan and its encouragement of freer expression led Chinese intellectuals to publicly criticize Communist Party policy. After things got a bit too close to the bone for comfort, those who’d spoken up were silenced with a harshness typical of Mao’s reign. Faced with the apparent contradiction of both sparking the 100 Flowers movement and then crushing it, Mao later explained that it had all along been a ruse meant to lure bad elements out of hiding.

November 24, 2011 5:19 PM
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