August 15, 2013
As a teenager radicalised by China’s Cultural Revolution, Zhang Hongbing denounced his mother to the authorities. Two months later a firing squad shot her dead.
Now after more than 40 years of mounting guilt, Zhang has ruffled the silence that cloaks China’s decade of turmoil with a public confession.
Such rare apologies have been welcomed as a potential gateway to the collective soul-searching that could bring healing — but is blocked by a ruling Communist Party whose critics say is unwilling to confront its own responsibility.
“Back then everyone was swept up and you couldn’t escape even if you wanted to. Any kindness or beauty in me was thoroughly, irretrievably ‘formatted’,” Zhang told the Beijing News last week.