Cultural Revolution concert ' a political trap'

HONG KONG • The controversy sparked by a large-scale performance of Cultural Revolution "red songs" last week deepened with claims that it could be part of a political trap.

The daughter of a revolutionary has warned the Communist Party leadership that organisers of the concert were laying a "political trap", reported the South China Morning Post yesterday.

The organiser must "have some ambitions... we should be alert", Ms Ma Xiaoli told Ifeng.com, suggesting the concert was an attempt to paint the leadership as a personality cult.

The May 2 show at the Great Hall of the People featured an array of musical performances, a large portion of which were songs from the Cultural Revolution. It also came at a politically sensitive time ahead of the 50th anniversary of the start of the movement on May 16.

Photographs showed performers singing against the backdrop of a huge screen, which flashed images such as photographs of Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping, as well as propaganda posters from the tumultuous period. One poster read: "The people of the whole world should unite to defeat the American invaders and their lackeys."

Ms Ma's father, Ma Wenrui, was persecuted alongside President Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun, during the Cultural Revolution for leading an "anti-party clique".

Ms Ma did not identify exactly who was laying the trap. "It's not that simple. No one is allowed to enter a venue like the Great Hall without permission from top officials," she said. The venue is where the yearly meetings of the country's legislative body take place, and where the Communist Party's National Congress is held.

"These organisers are the ones who manipulate… Even (disgraced official) Bo Xilai could not get into the Great Hall, how could they? Where did they get their approval? We must get to the bottom of this," she said in comments carried by the Post.

In a twist last Friday, one of the organisers of the event, the China National Opera and Dance Drama Theatre, claimed it had fallen victim to a scam by one of the event's co-sponsors.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2016, with the headline 'Cultural Revolution concert ' a political trap''. Print Edition | Subscribe