Secret historians preserve past in China amid state amnesia

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tags: China

In his small ground-floor apartment just a few blocks from Beijing's landmark Bird's Nest stadium, Chinese language teacher, writer and do-it-yourself documentary maker Xu Xing is urgently preserving what he can of China's forbidden past.

Traveling usually by himself all over the country, the tall 58-year-old has recorded hours of interviews with everyday Chinese who were jailed, sometimes for years, on the barest of political charges during the decade-long spasm of social chaos known as the Cultural Revolution. Xu has edited that footage into documentaries that he only shows to those he trusts, in living rooms and coffee houses, preserving for history memories kept secret for decades.

"I want it so that this never happens in China again, so this is my tireless job," Xu said on a recent afternoon sitting at his kitchen-top editing bay. "I tell the people I interview, 'Clearly, I can't bring you any money or other reward. The main thing I do is let other people know your story.'"

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