English

2012 New History
P. O. Box 1-44, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, R. O. C.
02-2782-9555 # 226

 

Promoting “Historical Accounts” in the Chinese People’s Political
Consultative Conference, 1959-1966: The Shanghai Experience

May-li Lin

Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica

This article examine the politics of the overall strategy behind the creation of “historical accounts” (wenshi ziliao) of past events. I use the records of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), especially records of meetings between 1959 and 1966, along with writings of well-known persons, such as the diaries of Xu Zhucheng徐鑄成and Bao Tianxiao包天笑, and the reminiscences of Pan Xulun潘序倫. In writing about Shanghai’s past, many accounts came from the democratic wing of the old Chinese political spectrum. Focusing firmly on the characteristics of Shanghai, they planned to collect historical data concerning developments of commercial life as well as culture and education. Moreover, they contributed their own writings and friends’ writings. Those manuscripts provided a basis of the contemporary knowledge of Shanghai’s culture and history. The CPPCC’s framing of historical accounts emphasized the reactionary elements of the past: as Gu Jiegang 顧頡剛 remarked, “The old era turned people into demons while the new society has turned demons into people.” This slogan became a goal that created a psychological burden for the contributors. One of them withdrew his manuscript, another changed his manuscripts after time passed and conditions changed. The effects on the actual function of historical data were thus complex. In sum, work on historical accounts was a cultural movement with political functions. It led those who had lost their previous influence to devote themselves heart and soul to the new regime of the People’s Republic. As the result of the continuing promotion of historical work, the CPPCC has defined the scope of historical research to this day.

 

Keywords: Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Shanghai, historical accounts