The term is used to label malignant ideas and people who

  • distort the ‘four histories’ of the Party, New China (i.e. since 1949), ‘reform and opening’ and socialism
  • defame past Party leadership, guiding thought or main policy direction
  • slander heroes and martyrs
  • deprecate or devalue traditional Chinese, revolutionary or advanced socialist culture

It is blamed for the collapse of the Soviet Union, starting with Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin. ‘Document No. 9’, a 2013 Party directive, called for combatting seven ‘perils’ in the ideological struggle: constitutional democracy, universal values, civil society, neoliberalism, free press, historical nihilism and questioning Chinese-style socialism.

A Party history education campaign launched 20 Feb 2021 ahead of the Party centenary planned for July targeted historical nihilism with renewed intensity.