In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2009. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag, S. 7–18
The development of the archival system of the People’s Republic of China was largely conditioned by the merging of indigenous notions of archives with Soviet archival practices during the 1950s. In the former USSR as well as in China, the combination of historical determinism and centralized political control lent exceptional importance to the national documentary legacy and to the organization of a comprehensive archival system. The political centre of the People’s Republic of China legitimizes itself by a certain presentation of the past. The centralization of historical information in state archives and strict control over archival holdings allow a supervised, hierarchical and highly selective distribution of historical knowledge for the implementation of orthodox history: In China, "unified thinking", a homogenous collective memory is believed to be a major precondition to national stability and unity. However, the process of liberalization and commercialization, set in motion by the CCP in the 1980s, entails an unintended dynamic which undermines the prevailing concept of memory management and has given rise to an unprecedented openness. This paper focuses on current regulations on secrecy, informal rules governing the opening or prolonged classification of certain files, and current trends in the archival system of the People’s Republic of China.