Blog post re­news West Point de­bate

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO XINY­ING zhaoxiny­ing@ chi­

The ques­tion whether the United States Mil­i­tary Academy atWestPoint paid­homage to Lei Feng, a model Chi­nese sol­dier from the Mao Ze­dong era, may re­main un­solved.

Anec­dotesaboutWestPoint cadets at­tempt­ing to­knowLei have be­come the fo­cus of pub­lic at­ten­tion from time to time in past decades. Now, the topic of the mil­i­tary hero is stir­ring heated dis­cus­sion again be­cause of the con­fes­sion of a for­mer Xin­hua News Agency jour­nal­is­ton­his­mi­crobl­o­gon Sun­day.

Li Zhu­run, the for­mer jour­nal­ist, said he read in for­eign me­dia on April Fools’ Day — April1— in1981 that cadets at WestPoin­twere­learn­ingfrom Lei, and that they even sang a popular Chi­nese song ex­tolling him.

“I put the story into one of my ar­ti­cles with­out a sec­ond thought, and didn’t re­al­ize any­thing was wrong un­til I read a mag­a­zine ar­ti­cle in 1997 say­ing that it was just an April Fool’s Day prank,” he re­called.

“Since then, Ihave been telling stu­dents inmy class not to make a sim­i­lar mis­take. I feel sorry for the mis­take I made and will take all the re­spon­si­bil­ity for that,” said Li, who is now a part-time lec­turer at Beijing For­eign Stud­ies Univer­sity’s school of jour­nal­ism and com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

De­spite Li’s ef­forts to clear up the facts in the past 20 years, some peo­ple in China still ap­pear to be­lieve that cadets atWestPoint once wor­shipped Lei, at least for a pe­riod of time, pre­sent­ing as ev­i­dence a photo show­ing a pic­ture of Lei on the wall of a West Point class­room.

The photo, printed on a re­cruit­ing pam­phlet for West Point, was pro­vided by Tian Zhi­fang, who once worked as a sec­re­tary at the Chi­nese em­bassy in theUS and vis­ited the academy twice, ac­cord­ing to Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Daily.

How­ever, some who had also vis­ited West Point and had talked to grad­u­ates of the academy pre­sented a more nu­anced view.

JinYi’nan, a strate­gic ex­pert and pro­fes­sor at Na­tional De­fence Univer­sity PLA China, told PLA Daily that pic­tures of Lei were, in fact, posted atWest Point and that sto­ries about Lei were told to cadets, but only for the pur­pose of “get­ting fa­mil­iar with Chi­nese troops, sol­diers and their icon, rather than to learn from Lei”.

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