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"History cannot be carved like marble."

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  • Interviewer: Thank you for accepting my interview. Would you please tell me in which decade you were born?
  • Interviewer: You don’t need to say the exact year.
  • Around 1930.
  • Interviewer: What area of China did you live in from 1966 to 1976?
  • I was in Anhui Province.
  • Interviewer: Anhui Province. You experienced the Cultural Revolution; I think you must have many memories.
  • Interviewer: If we give you no more than 10 minutes, what is it that you want to share with us the most?
  • I will start from the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, from putting up “big-character posters.” Is that okay?
  • Interviewer: Yes, just share your thoughts—no need to organize your language.
  • At that time, the most surprising thing was the overthrow of “capitalist-roaders,” pointing out the director of the Planning Commission and some other people.
  • At that moment I felt that the director had worked so hard, how could he suddenly become a “capitalist-roader?”
  • I could not figure it out.
  • Because I did have working relationships with those “capitalist-roaders,” sometimes, they gave me assignments directly.
  • I thought that their way of thinking had always been right, so how could they suddenly be seen as wrong?
  • I really could not figure it out.
  • Interviewer: Did you dare speak up?
  • I did not participate at all. I did not make a single “big-character poster.”
  • They wrote their posters, but I did not participate.
  • Why should I make a poster if I could not figure out the reason for it? That was my thinking.
  • And then, they talked about me. They wrote that I...
  • Interviewer: “Big-character posters” were put up about you?
  • I was on many posters!
  • Oh, there is another thing.
  • I was working for the propaganda team of the local branch of the Communist Youth League.
  • Along with a member of the propaganda team of the local branch of the Communist Party, we were responsible for the blackboard bulletins for the whole Planning Commission.
  • The Vietnam War was in progress at that time.
  • My friend, the member of the propaganda team for the local Party branch, wrote that the U.S. bombing Vietnam was bad—she wrote a poem about it.
  • They insisted I expose her, to say that she had written it was very good for the U.S. to bomb Vietnam.
  • I said, nothing like that happened.
  • I really could not understand this -- creating something out of thin air.
  • This was the part I found most unacceptable.
  • You tell me…, excuse me, I would rather be…
  • But because I did not participate in these things, even I was put on “big-character posters.”
  • Interviewer: What did they call you? “Bystanders,” or…?
  • No, they said that I was bourgeois something-or-other...
  • At that time there was a term for it; I can’t remember the term right now.
  • Interviewer: If you can’t think of it, it’s okay.
  • I can’t remember now. Something about bourgeois…
  • Interviewer: “Running dog?” No?
  • It wasn’t something quite that awful, but something that meant I wasn’t fully involved [in the revolution].
  • Then with [my friend], what did the two of us do? We were sent to a place.
  • [I thought] after all, you all talked about exposing, and felt that we were not active enough.
  • So, we were both put in a room, and “big-character posters” were put up about us.
  • I said, fine, you put up yours; the two of us earnestly studied Select Works of Mao Zedong while we were there.
  • We really took notes, and were very conscientious.
  • I thought, we’re better than those of you who put up the “big-character posters.”
  • We did study, really conscientiously.
  • My deepest impression was that during the Cultural Revolution, you could just say whatever nonsense you wanted.
  • But we did not do it; [my friend] did not either.
  • She was a very upright Party member.
  • Almost done? I can’t think of much else.
  • Interviewer: You did not “go down to the countryside,” did you? You weren’t sent down to do manual labor?
  • No, not at all. Because after the occurrence of the Cultural Revolution, after the “free airing of views,”
  • the Planning Commission was “grasping revolution, promoting production.”
  • The National Planning Commission convened meetings of the Provincial Planning Commissions for production. So I resumed working.
  • Interviewer: You were quite busy, right?
  • Of course -- incredibly busy. We needed to “grasp revolution, promote production.”
  • We had to make plans for the whole country, every province.
  • Interviewer: Not like us: classes suspended, not going to work, schools closed.
  • Interviewer: Working for the Planning Commission, your feeling is that you were constantly busy.
  • No, we were not busy at all before “grasping revolution, promoting production.”
  • Everything was just rebellions, making “big-character posters.”
  • You know, I was good at calligraphy. I wrote a big banner.
  • The Planning Commission office building was very large, with a big staircase, a high ceiling in the lobby.
  • I got four full sheets of newsprint, and wrote, “History cannot be carved like marble.”
  • We don’t get to decide what history is just by making statements about it.
  • So I didn't make “big-character posters.” I was not an activist element.
  • But I wrote mine; it hung for a long time; people did not tear it down. I wrote, “History cannot be carved like marble.”
  • Can you really just say anything you want? In fact, later a lot of what was said was proved to be nonsense.
  • It was just said to show you were active in revolution. Then, you could say anything.
  • I absolutely didn't do this kind of thing, so afterwards I had many friends. That’s the good part.
  • Interviewer: Very good. So, you were pretty busy after “grasping revolution, promoting production.”
  • Everyone was busy for “grasping revolution, promoting production,”
  • and then we were busy because production and planning had stopped for a while in the whole province [because of the Cultural Revolution].
  • I was working on infrastructure. Some plans would be halted and some would be postponed.
  • Imagine a large power plant project was going to be stopped. Was it okay? What would be the financial loss?
  • All of these issues were handled by us.
  • Interviewer: In your impression, during the Cultural Revolution, how was the infrastructure development? Were there a lot of projects?
  • Not many projects; the projects were definitely affected.
  • However, for some postponed projects, we had to investigate if there were problems.
  • We had to investigate technical aspects, economic aspects; I mainly did it from a technical aspect.
  • With some people from the design institute, we went to a national power plant, to work together.
  • If a plant stops production, you need maintain it. At that time, that plant had not begun production.
  • Should that project begin or not? We had to write out our ideas, our opinions.
  • You had to go to the site, work with engineers. If it’s going to be shut down, how much is the loss?
  • If it’s going to continue to operate, how many things need to be done? These were things we had to consider.
  • Interviewer: You were in Anhui for those ten years?
  • Yes, basically. In 1975, I was transferred to be with my husband in Beijing.
  • Before that, I was working at the Planning Commission.