Wang Zhiming is a particularly famous Christian martyr of the Cultural Revolution in China – he is one of ten martyrs of the 20th century to have a statue above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey.

But not only that, he is apparently the "only Christian martyr of the Cultural Revolution to have a monument erected at his gravesite," per Wikipedia, which also says that his family later received small financial restitution. God Is Red, by Liao Yiwu, chapter 9, also mentions the uniqueness of the monument, and indicates that the government "officially reversed the verdict."

I'd like to understand why Wang Zhiming was apparently treated differently following the Cultural Revolution as opposed to other Christian martyrs. Why did the government apparently admit wrongdoing and allow a monument to be built? I can think of a couple possibilities:

  • He had signed the "Three-Self Manifesto"
  • Family connections – his son apparently came to have some influence, despite having been arrested himself (see God Is Red for more on this)

What made Wang Zhiming's case unique that led to him having a monument at his grave and a reversed verdict?

  • I think there's a misinterpreation here. I'm fairly certain other Christian victims - like most victims of the Cultural Revolution in general - had their verdicts officially reversed (the technical term is 平反, i.e. politically rehabilitated). Wikipedia only says that Wang's grave had a monument, which isn't really too special, not that he was the only one pardoned. – Semaphore Aug 9 '18 at 6:07
  • @Semaphore Interesting. So that assumption, that the reversal of the verdict was closely associated with the monument, may not have merit. FWIW, the uniqueness of the monument is also mentioned in God Is Red, but perhaps other factors besides government restrictions are in play. – Nathaniel is protesting Aug 9 '18 at 12:14
  • Yes, other persecuted Christians such as Lin Zhao (who was also executed) or Liu Yang Feng (who survived and moved to New York) were also rehabilitated after the Cultural Revolution, and I didn't find anything indicative of a monument on Lin's grave. Intuitively speaking (is there anything more about this in that book?) I would be skeptical that the Chinese government had anything to do with Wang's monument - seems more likely that his friends, family or supporters arranged for it. – Semaphore Aug 9 '18 at 12:30
  • @Semaphore The book definitely indicates that family/supporters played a role in the monument, but implies that the government and/or "revolutionary" looters were a risk, at least early on. Another possible factor is that perhaps Wang was one of the few whose family actually got his body back and was able to bury him. – Nathaniel is protesting Aug 9 '18 at 12:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.