Haluk Comertel CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to write its own version of history.

On June 28, the Chinese government news agency Xinhua released a brief official history of the CCP titled “Chronicle of 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party” (中国共产党一百年大事记). Compiled by a Party research institute, it tells the story of China from the 1840s to the present from a partisan perspective aimed at justifying CCP one-party rule.

One of the events mentioned in the Chronicle is the Tiananmen Square crackdown on June 4, 1989.

The CCP depicts the protests as a “counter-revolutionary rebellion”, and the suppression of the popular movement as a necessary step towards China’s path to political stability and economic development:

As the summer was approaching, political disturbances occurred in Beijing and other cities. The Party and the government, relying on the people, took a clear-cut stand against the unrest (动乱), suppressed the counterrevolutionary rebellion in Beijing (平息在北京发生的反革命暴乱), defended the country’s socialist state power, protected the people’s fundamental interests, and guaranteed the continuation of reform, opening up and modernization.

The events of June 1989 are strictly censored in China, and the voices of the witnesses of the protests and of the crackdown are silenced.

The effectiveness of CCP propaganda is difficult to assess. State control stifles public debate, prevents researchers from freely conducting polls and surveys. But there is anecdotal evidence that propaganda may work at least on a segment of the population. “Many young Chinese today see Tibet, Tiananmen, Taiwan, the legitimacy of the Communist Party, or Chinese sovereignty over the South China Seas exactly as Beijing would wish,” wrote Quartz in 2016.

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