Seventy years after the Great Purge

Phoenix Weekly
January 5, 2008

Phoenix Weekly starts the year off with a cover story on Joseph Stalin and the Great Purge. It's been seventy years, more or less, since Stalin consolidated his control over the Soviet Union through widespread arrests, show trials, and executions. Huang Zhangjin, head of the magazine's editorial department, wrote this four-part feature that leads off with a reference to President Vladimir Putin's commemoration of purge victims on 30 October, 2007.

The articles present a general history of the Purge, a look at Stalin's motives and the Moscow Trials (titled "For the good of the party, we suggest you slander yourself"), and a history of the "red meat grinder": the KGB and its directors.

The series is available on Huang's blog (where it appears under the title Красный террор, "Red Terror").

Other features in this issue:

  • The Xiamen PX project may move to Zhangzhou, although a final decision has not yet been made. The article is basically a run-down of the whole situation.
  • Also on the cover is a story on the "Olympic Dream for Darfur" organization and other attempts to link the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to issues of foreign policy, human rights, and the environment.
  • There's a photo-essay by Wang Hong, who spent time with border forces in 1986. Some of these photos are identical to those published in Southern People Weekly's similar story back in November.

The magazine also includes a special report on the Shan State Army, which the government of Burma considers to be a terrorist organization. Phoenix journalist Wang Qing conducted an interview with Colonel Yawd Serk, head of the SSA. Here are his thoughts on China:

Phoenix Weekly: What do you think of Sino-Burmese relations?
Yawd Serk: China is a friendly neighbor to the Shan State, and we want to cultivate a good relationship with China. We don't want China to stand idly by; we want it to be concerned with problems in Burma.

PW: What kind of attention do you want from China?
YS: First, and most importantly, is to tell the Burmese military to stop the slaughter, to stop killing civilians. Second, have the Burmese government respect the peace agreement. If there is chaos in the Shan State, many refugees will flee to China and Thailand. We do not wish for the people of the Shan State to become refugees and flee to other countries, but they are in a difficult situation. If China can act, if it can be a mediator and get all armed parties to sit down together for talks, that would be good.

PW: You believe that China can be of more use, that it is better able to solve Burma's problems?
YS: Yes. I think it can. China has invested a lot in Burma; we do not want to see China just chase after profit. If they invest but profit does not make its way down to the people, we do not endorse that. We hope that China can increase stability in Burma. However, the Burmese army is smart; they won't simply listen to what China says. They will use India and Russia to resist China. If they are pressured by China, they can play the India or the Russia card.

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