Mao’s legacy and foreign self-censorship


Videos of lectures by Tengfei Yuan, a history teacher in a middle school in Beijing, recently went viral on the internet. While his charismatic and humorous teaching style attracts public attention and fans, his bold criticisms on Mao make him highly controversial among Chinese netizens. The surprising rise of this outspoken teacher sets off by contrast the self-censoring phenomenon that has taken root among the foreign community in China. How has one of the fiercest critics of Mao’s legacy emerged within the confines of China’s own educational system? Why is one Chinese teacher going where most foreigners fear to tread, and what does this mean for foreigners working and living in China?

This episode is a conversation with Sinica regular Gady Epstein, Beijing bureau chief for Forbes magazine and a first time guest David Moser, translator, essayist and Sinologist who is currently working as the Academic Director for CET Beijing. Along with Sinica hosts Jeremy and Kaiser, these guests share their opinions on the level of “civility” as foreigners and their experience of self-censoring while working in Beijing. Gady also discusses the main concepts of the upcoming book the Party: the Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor and a piece about the book Gady is working up for Forbes.