One of the biggest problems I encountered as a journalism teacher in China was that students had no true understanding of history --  particularly their own. That's because for the past 60 years, the Party has carefully fashioned the narrative of China's history to its advantage, and it often has little to do with reality. The following is an exerpt from today's South China Morning Post about a dustup over the Party and historical truth -- at least the quest for historical truth.

<<A magazine publisher has been demoted and a journalist suspended after the publication of an interview with a Taiwanese historian who accused "Father of the Nation" Sun Yat-sen of trying to make deals with Japan and who criticised China for trying to stir up nationalist sentiment.

The question-and-answer-style story featuring Professor Tang Chi-hua from National Chengchi University in Taiwan was headlined, "The rising China must say goodbye to `revolutionary diplomacy'". It was published on July 25.

The reporter said officials from the group's editorial committee had visited the magazine on Monday to announce the decisions on Chen and Zhao. The officials also criticised the story as "anti-government and anti-Communist Party". They said Tang's comments about Sun were defamatory since Sun was a "true revolutionary pioneer".

Tang was quoted in the article as saying that Sun, having failed to win the support of warlords, suggested to Japan that he was willing to cede China's sovereignty over Manchuria and Hainan Island in exchange for Japanese officers leading the National Revolutionary Army against the Beiyang warlord government in Beijing. Later, to get Japan to send an army to help him, Sun offered to cede control of policing and taxation, and of Beijing, Tianjin and Inner Mongolia, Tang said.

These weren't the only points the committee took issue with. There were three others:

First, Tang said the historical narratives of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang might not be factual, and that they sometimes put party interests ahead of the country. >>

I think this last point speaks volumes.

A fascinating story in today’s South China Morning Post in Hong Kong about the mainland China censors putting the kibosh on any coverage of the train crash that killed about 40 people. The timing of the hypocrisy is exquisite: the country’s premier, Wen Jiabao, visited the crash site three days ago and vowed transparency and openness in investigating how and why it happened. A day later the government’s censorship department banned all reporting and publishing on the crash.

Specifically, the department wrote: "After the serious rail traffic accident on July 23, overseas and domestic public opinions have become increasingly complicated. All local media, including newspapers, magazines and websites, must rapidly cool down the reports of the incident.

"[You] are not allowed to publish any reports or commentaries, except positive news or information released by the authorities."

Mind you, this kind of censoring of the country’s newspapers, magazines and websites goes on every day, but this edict was so last minute that some newspapers had only a couple hours to find replacement material for seven or eight pages. It’s also a topic that’s been roiling the Chinese public. That public