In what is seen as a danger signal to the nation's intellectuals, a prominent Chinese writer has been criticized strongly for his screenplay for a banned film that portrays the political persecution of an artist during the Cultural Revolution.
The military's influential newspaper, Liberation Army Daily, accused writer Bai Hua of trying to blacken the image of the nation, the Chinese Communist Party and the late chairman Mao Tse-tung in his screenplay for the controversial movie "Unrequited Love."
The film, also known as "Sun and Man," was privately shown to party officials late last year and quickly withdrawn after the Central Committee published new guidelines requiring artists and writers to tone down their criticism of Mao and produce works that serve the socialist cause.
Observers point out, however, that Bai Hua, an Army member who has written numerous plays, novels and volumes of poetry, probably will escape further punishment. A passage in the article calls on him to correct his thinking and devote himself to work that benefits the nation.
The newspaper accuses him of showing contempt for his country and party by writing the movie story of an oil painter who left precommunist China for America, where he found wealth and fame. Returning home after the communist takeover, the artist, who once was filled with patriotism, suffered badly during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s.
One movie scene the Army paper found especially offensive took place during the Cultural Revolution when the artist, despite being persecuted by Red Guards, tried to talk his daughterout of leaving China, giving her a lecture on patriotism.
In the emotional high point of the film, which had been seen by only a handful of Western reporters at a special showing in December, the daughter replied, "You love your motherland. But does your motherland love you?"
"The author is saying that the new society is not as good as the old society, that the Communist Party is not as good as the [defeated] Nationalist Party, that socialism is not as good as capitalism and that the socialist motherland not only has nothing to love but is frightening," the Army paper said.
Bai Hua also drew criticism for several flashbacks of Buddha worship during the movie hero's youth in China, a device the newspaper said was intended to attack "spirtual slavery" of the Chinese people during Mao's later years and "the bitter fate of the people under the sun."
During the Cultural Revolution, Mao was described as "the sun." Bai Hua's movie originally was named "Sun and Man" but the title was changed after Cultural Ministry officials complained that it was a blatant attack against the party's founding father, sources said.
Claiming that the movie's mistakenly confuses Mao with old Chinese emperors, the newspaper said Bai Hua "has slid into a position in opposition to the party and people of China."