Death as liberation in china

Discussion in 'China' started by Ray, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    DEATH AS LIBERATION IN CHINA

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    Chinese communists carry placards bearing pictures of Stalin as they celebrate the first anniversary of the new regime in China



    Revolutions repeat themselves. First time as violence and every subsequent one as even more violence. The Terror introduced by Robespierre in the French Revolution was practised with even greater vehemence by Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin in Russia, in the course of the Russian Revolution and in the years following it. In China, in the process of “liberating’’ the people, millions died. Frank Dikötter’s gripping narrative recollects the early years of the revolution in China in gory but gripping detail.

    The end of the Second World War also brought to an end a bloody civil war within China. And by 1949, Mao Zedong had unfurled the red flag over Beijing. This was hailed by the Chinese Communist Party and by communists across the globe as a great triumph and a significant step towards building a more just and equitable world. The real story was one of terror, violence and death. Dikötter unearths this story from newly opened archives, from memoirs and interviews. Even today, after all that has been revealed about communist regimes — from the brutalities of Stalin to the killings of Pol Pot — it is difficult to stomach what was unleashed in China in the name of communism, in the name of liberation.

    As the communists tried to win back the country from Chiang Kai-shek and the nationalists, they, as a matter of strategy, laid siege to one city after another, and starved them to submission. Changchun, in the Manchurian plains, north of the Great Wall of China, was under siege for five months in 1948. Lin Biao, the commander in charge of the communist troops, ordered that Changchun be turned into a “city of death’’. The city was surrounded and starving civilians were prohibited from leaving even to search for food. The city was bombarded day and night. At least 1,60,000 people died of hunger, disease and starvation. Other cities surrendered to escape prolonged blockades.

    The hope of liberation was mired in death. In rural China, land reforms followed the coming of the communist regime. Violence was an indispensable part of land distribution: the majority became implicated in the elimination of a “carefully designated minority’’. Dikötter writes, “Work teams were given quotas of people who had to be denounced, humiliated, beaten, dispossessed and then killed by the villagers who were assembled in their hundreds in an atmosphere charged with hatred. In a pact sealed in blood between the party and the poor, close to 2 million so-called ‘landlords’, often hardly any better off than their neighbours, were liquidated. From Hebei, Liu Shaoqi, the second-in-command, reported that some of them had been buried alive, tied up and dismembered, shot or throttled to death. Some children were slaughtered as ‘little landlords.’’’

    Less than one year after the “liberation’’, came a Great Terror unleashed by Mao, who handed a killing quota of one per thousand. But in many parts of the country, two or three times more were executed on the most trivial of pretexts. Children were not spared: they were tortured. Villages were burnt to the ground. Cadres picked up people and killed them to meet their quotas. People were shot during public rallies, but, most often, away from the limelight, in forests and ravines. By the end of 1951, nearly 2 million people had thus been eliminated and many more imprisoned. This was the triumph of the revolution.

    In 1952, the business community was made the target. Entrepreneurs were dragged to denunciation meetings. In Shanghai, in two months, more than 600 entrepreneurs, businessmen and traders had committed suicide. All existing laws were abolished and a legal system inspired by the one prevailing in the Soviet Union was introduced. In the countryside, collectivization proceeded apace. Farmers lost their tools, their land and their livestock. They became bonded labourers at the beck and call of the party cadre. The regime itself admitted that in 1954, peasants had a third less food to eat compared to the years before the “liberation”. Starvation stalked rural China.

    Next was the turn of the intellectuals. In a drive to eliminate dissent and opposition, half a million intellectuals were sent to the gulag.

    Side by side, there was the “re-education’’ (read brainwashing) of the people. They were taught to learn the right answers, the right ideas and the right slogans according to the diktats of the party.

    Yet, Dikötter argues, at the micro level there were benefits: a dam worked somewhere, somewhere else there was a prison where the inmates were treated well and so on. But these individual acts or programmes cannot be seen in isolation from the overall horror and the State-driven violence. It was a mockery of civilization in the name of freedom, justice and equality.

    It was this regime that was deified in the 1960s by communist and left intellectuals across the world, just as Stalin’s Russia had been in the 1930s and 1940s. Dikötter’s books should shame such people and discredit the books and articles they wrote. One day historians will have to explain the process through which Marx’s vision produced monsters like Lenin, Stalin and Mao and the regimes they gave birth to.

    RUDRANGSHU MUKHERJEE

    Death as liberation in China

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    This is a review of DEATH AS LIBERATION IN CHINA, the book authored by Frank Dikötter.

    Frank Dikötter is a Dutch historian and author of Mao's Great Famine. The book won the 2011 Samuel Johnson Prize.[2] Dikötter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, where he teaches courses on both Mao Zedong and the Great Chinese Famine,and formerly a Professor of the Modern History of China from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Interesting that our battery of Chinese poster cannot give their opinion so that we have an even handed view.

    It appears that the book is true and the Chinese posters are too embarrassed to admit that it is so.

    Normally, they are Jack in the Boxes for everything!
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Wid Swans: Three Daughters of China.


    Few books have ever had such an impact as Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. Since its first publication it has been published in 37 languages and sold more than 13 million copies (while still banned in mainland China). Through the story of three generations of women in her own family – grandmother, mother and daughter – Jung Chang reveals the whole tragic history of China’s twentieth century.
    Jung Chang’s grandmother’s feet were bound as a child, and she was given to a warlord general as a concubine. As the general lay dying, she fled with her infant daughter. That daughter grew up to become active in the Communist movement during the civil war against the Kuomintang. Following the Communist victory in 1949 she and her husband became senor officials. Jung Chang, their daughter, was raised in the privileged circles of China’s Communist elite, but was to take the unimaginable step of questioning Mao himself. Her parents were denounced and tortured, and she herself was exiled to the edge of the Himalayas.

    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China is a tale of extraordinary cruelty and bravery, of death and survival. Breathtaking in its scope, unforgettable in its description of China’s long nightmare, it is both an important work of history and a remarkable human document.

    - See more at: Jung Chang 張戎/张戎 ~ The Official Website of the International Best-Selling Author. 网站. 網站. ~ Books ~ Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

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    Marathi

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    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

    Chang's Grandmother's story

    The book starts by relating the biography of Chang's grandmother (Yu-fang). From the age of two, she had bound feet. As the family was relatively poor, her father schemed to have her taken as a concubine to a high-ranking warlord General Xue Zhi-heng, in order to gain status, which was hugely important in terms of quality of life. After a wedding ceremony to the General, who already had a wife and many concubines, the young girl was left alone in a wealthy household with servants, and did not see her "husband" again for six years. Despite her luxurious surroundings, life was tense as she feared the servants and the wife of the General would report rumors or outright lies to him. She was not even allowed to visit her parents' home.

    After his six year absence, the General made a brief conjugal visit to his concubine, during which a daughter, Chang's mother, was conceived. General did not stay there for long, even to see his daughter but he named his daughter Bao Qin meaning precious zither. During the child's infancy, Chang's grandmother put off persistent requests for her to be brought to the General's main household, until he became very sick and it was no longer a request. Chang's grandmother had no choice but to comply. During her visit to the household, the General was dying. The general had no male heir, and Chang's mother was very important to the family. Realizing that the General's wife would have complete control over her life and her child's, when he would die, Chang's grandmother fled with her baby to her parents' home, sending false word to her husband's family that the child had died. With his last words, the General unexpectedly proclaimed her free at age twenty-four. Eventually she married a much older doctor (Dr. Xia) with whom she and her daughter, Chang's mother, made a home in Jinzhou, Manchuria. She was no more a concubine, but a true, beloved wife.

    Chang's Mother's story

    The book now moves to the story of Chang's mother (Bao Qin/De-hong), who at the age of fifteen, began working for the Communist Party of China and Mao Zedong's Red Army. As the Revolution progressed, her work for the party helped her rise through the ranks. She met the man who would become Chang's father (Wang Yu/Shou-yu), a high-ranking officer. The couple were soon married but Communist Party dictates meant they were not allowed to spend much time together. Eventually, the couple were transferred to Yibin, Chang's father's hometown. It was a long and arduous trek. Chang's mother traveled on foot because of her rank, while her father rode in a Jeep. He was not aware that Chang's mother was pregnant. After arrival at Nanjing, Chang's mother undertook gruelling military training. After the strain of the training coupled with the journey, she suffered a miscarriage. Chang's father swore to never again be inattentive to his wife's needs.

    In the following years Chang's mother gave birth to Jung and four other children. The focus of the book now shifts again to cover Jung's own autobiography.

    Chang's story

    The Cultural Revolution started when Chang was a teenager. Chang willingly joined the Red Guards though she recoiled from some of their brutal actions. As Mao's personality cult grew, life became more difficult and dangerous. Chang's father became a target for the Red Guards when he mildly but openly criticised Mao due to the suffering caused to Chinese people by the Cultural Revolution. Chang's parents were labeled as capitalist roaders and made subjects of public struggle meetings and torture. Chang recalls that her father deteriorated physically and mentally, until his eventual death. Her father's treatment prompted Chang's previous doubts about Mao to come to the fore. Like thousands of other young people, Chang was sent down to the countryside for education and thought reform by the peasants, a difficult, harsh and pointless experience. At the end of the Cultural Revolution Chang returned home and worked hard to gain a place at university. Not long after she succeeded, Mao died. The whole nation was shocked in mourning, though Chang writes that: "People had been acting for so long they confused it with their true feelings. I wondered how many of the tears were genuine". Chang said that she felt exhilarated by Mao's death.

    At university Chang studied English. After her graduation and a stint as an assistant lecturer, she won a scholarship to study in England and left for her new home. She still lives in England today and visits mainland China on occasion to see her family and friends there, with permission from Chinese authorities.
     

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