Comptent criticism of the sources: PRC leaders and the dating of speeches

Cambridge historian G. R. Elton once wrote (in The Practice of History): “Knowledge of all the sources, and competent criticism of them – these are the basic requirements of a reliable historiography.” What his observation entails (and what some of the difficulties turn out to be) when it comes to citing and using the written legacies of senior PRC leaders is illustrated by the following exchange surviving in one transcript (but not in all extant transcripts!) of a speech by Vice-Premier Xie Fuzhi:

Xie Fuzhi: What’s today’s date?

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