Leading article: The long march of history

Saturday 22 October 2011 21:21

"It's too soon to tell" was the response Zhou Enlai, the first prime minister of China's Communist government, supposedly gave to a question about the historical significance of the French Revolution.

Revisionists now claim that he was commenting not on the storming of the Bastille in 1789, but on the student riots of 1968. But what's a couple of centuries to a China still engaged in its own long march to modernity?

Still, the late Comrade Zhou's answer would be equally apposite this week, as China marked the 90th anniversary of the founding of its ruling Communist Party – in elaborate celebrations planned years in advance and staged three weeks ahead of the actual date. For, lavish though yesterday's festivities were, they pose their own questions. How will China trump such extravagance when the centenary comes around? Does this lavishness at 90 not perhaps betray the fear that the CCP might not actually make it to 100? And how will history judge Chinese communism? Of course, it's far, far too early to tell.

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