Randy Rummel: “Mao murdered 77 million Chinese”

That’s a hefty claim, but Randy Rummel, author of China’s Bloody Century, says it’s a fact in a post all you Chang and Halliday readers will want to see. Rummel, who boasts some extraordinary credentials, had originally discounted the 40 million or so who died during the great famine, believing they were unintentionally killed and thus didn’t meet his criteria for “democide.” Now he’s had a change of heart, thanks to that book we all need to read.

From the biography of Mao, which I trust (for those who might question it, look at the hundreds of interviews Chang and Halliday conducted with communist cadre and former high officials, and the extensive bibliography) I can now say that yes, Mao’s policies caused the famine. He knew about it from the beginning. He didn’t care! Literally. And he tried to take more food from the people to pay for his lust for international power, but was overruled by a meeting of 7,000 top Communist Party members.

So, the famine was intentional. What was its human cost? I had estimated that 27,000,000 Chinese starved to death or died from associated diseases. Others estimated the toll to be as high as 40,000,000. Chang and Halliday put it at 38,000,000, and given their sources, I will accept that.

Now, I have to change all the world democide totals that populate my websites, blogs, and publications. The total for the communist democide before and after Mao took over the mainland is thus 3,446,000 + 35,226,000 + 38,000,000 = 76,692,000, or to round off, 77,000,000 murdered. This is now in line with the 65 million toll estimated for China in the Black Book of Communism, and Chang and Halliday’s estimate of “well over 70 million.”

This exceeds the 61,911,000 murdered by the Soviet Union 1917-1987, with Hitler far behind at 20,946,000 wiped out 1933-1945.

For perspective on Mao’s most bloody rule, all wars 1900-1987 cost in combat dead 34,021,000 — including WWI and II, Vietnam, Korea, and the Mexican and Russian Revolutions. Mao alone murdered over twice as many as were killed in combat in all these wars.

If true, that’s quite a bit of blood to have on one’s hands. Hitler comes across as a two-bit amateur. And still, Mao’s creepy portrait looms over us at Tiananmen Square, and his statues adorn every university campus. What an eerie anomaly. But let’s not forget, he was 70 percent good.

The Discussion: 38 Comments

Those are BIG, sobering numbers, especially the comparison with all 20th century war dead. It is very hard to get my head around measurements describing that level of intentional killing, to really sense the scale.

Just out of curiousity, I would like to see the same figures as a percentage of total population pools affected. I bet if you slice it this way, Pol Pot comes out “ahead” of Mao.

Anyway you tote up the numbers, it’s still death on a mind-numbing, marrow-chilling scale.

November 30, 2005 @ 12:59 am | Comment

Cspan has an hour video of Jung Chang & Jon Halliday giving a lecture and taking questions here: http://tinyurl.com/9dmx9

“Description: Jung Chang and Jon Halliday have explored the life of former Chinese premier Mao Tse-tung, as well as the history of 20th century China in their book, “Mao: The Unknown Story.” The authors write that Mao’s rise to power and his communist strategy had less to do with personal ideology than with political ambition and with his being at the right place at the right time. They also examine his personal friendship with former Soviet leader Josef Stalin, a relationship that dated back to the 1920s. “Mao” is the result of five years of research and includes interviews with each living American president who had interacted with Mao.”

Richard: If this has been posted elsewhere in your blog, go ahead and delete it.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:11 am | Comment

yes. many chinese told me that Mao is 70% good. they also know that millions of chinese were killed by starvation during the “nature disater period of 3 years”. they also know that Mao should be blamed for his relentless policy over agriculture. but they are so superstitious in Butcher Mao that they haven’t seen Mao’s darkest side(this is due to CCP’s propaganda machine. they have been advocating Mao’s the saver to all chinese).
I could not help thinking that if murderring 30 millions of chinese is “30% wrong”, then, in mathmatical, what is the “100 wrong?” butchering 0.1 billion are “100% wrong?”
“The Internationale” says “there is no saver in the world at all times”. almost every CCP member knows this song, almost every common chinese people were taught how to sing this song. but, why these people haven’t understood this lyric? it’s very ridiculous that the people singing “there is no saver in the worlds at all times” treat Mao as “saver”.. very ridiculous..

fortunately, more and more chinese have been getting a clearer and clearer understanding of the reality of Mao. his darkest side, his lies, his notorious legacy, his “achievements” to china and chinese people. although some left-wing guys are trying to honor him, but the tide is irresistible. i bet more historical facts decrypted, more people will help throwing this butcher to the PILLAR OF SHAME.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:24 am | Comment

first, mao did terrible things that is unforgivable.

but to count japanese invasion dead on him?
and to use the widely discredited Jung Chang book as a source?

like the taishi/guardian fiasco (though not as bad), this is hurting the credibility of those who critize the crimes mao committed.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:34 am | Comment

I can’t say the Chang-Halliday book has been “widely discredited.” Criticized and questioned isn’t the same as discredited. The Hitler Diaries were discredited.

That said, I agree that counting the deaths from the Japanese invasion on Mao seems a bit goofy at first glance.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:39 am | Comment

the most saddest thing in china is, you could not find one reliable and trustworthy channel to analyze this country, and then improve country. the goverment will hide anything, to outside world and its people. so you could not offer necessary evidences to convice others of that it is good or it is bad.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:46 am | Comment

ohhh….he quoted this challenge in his blog, saying he couldn’t resist the quote, but he did not respond to it.

maybe he would in his next post, maybe not.

November 30, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment

I actually got a copy of Jung Chang’s “Mao” sent to me on the mainland. It got through the Chinese mail. The friend who sent it to me from America, took off the dust jacket and replaced it with a dust jacket from a travel book about the South Pacific, to get it past the postal inspectors…. 🙂

(I have intelligent friends.)

November 30, 2005 @ 2:16 am | Comment

it seems rummel did not attribute all the death of WWII to Mao, perhaps only the japanes soldiers and co-operators killed in the war.

but still quite murky about responsibility.

and his conclusion may be right, but couldn’t he use a proper historical source than that of the notorious jung chang? e.g. dig into chang’s source and verify them himself, as a historian would do.

November 30, 2005 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Who knows, maybe the Chang-Halliday book is emerging as the definitive book of our times on the Great Helmsman. I haven’t read it yet and can’t say. Have you?

November 30, 2005 @ 2:38 am | Comment

One word IRONY

Many of the millions of Chinese who died during the Japanese invasion of China died when they were forcefully expelled from the towns and cities into the countryside (Japan didn’t have the manpower to subjegate or feed full cities, so it disperced people). They died of exposure, starvation, a lack of medcine, and through being worked to death.

When Mao took over, he did EXACTLY the same thing, he disperced people to the countryside, he disrupted supply lines and it forced city folk to become farm laborers. They died of exposure, starvation, desease and over work.

China counts its war dead as having having been murdered by the Japanese and makes no distinction between those who who died from exposoure and disease brough on by the invasion and those who were directly kiled by soldiers. Yet when people died in this way under Mao’s rule, they are not counted as having been murdered.

It doens’t matter whether people died under Tojo or under Mao, if they died the same way then their deaths should be counted in the same way.

Tojo and Mao brought death to China through the front door. Let their crimes be recorded likewise.

November 30, 2005 @ 5:48 am | Comment

sun, richard is right. The book has not been “widely discredited” at all. Flaws have appeared, yes. But don’t exaggerate so blatently. You seem to have a real chip on your shoulder about Jung Chang, so I suggest you focus on her husband more – even she stressed that he did more work, though he’s too modest to admit it.

Richard – hmm, perhaps. It’s a good book for “cutting away the crap” – previous books on Mao have felt the need to at least show that “he wasn’t such a bad chap in some ways”. Even if it isn’t perfect, it might provide inspiration for other historians to be more direct in the future.

November 30, 2005 @ 5:55 am | Comment

I’m in the camp that says that the JC+JH book is full of useful information, but stretches at points and is rather clumsily written.

I think the biggest shock to me, reading about Mao in recent years, was not the Great Leap Forward (which Becker covers very well, including Mao’s cupability – the new book is really just icing on the cake there, apart from the issue of bringing it to Western popular attention) or the Cultural Revolution (where the more interesting questions are not the top-down moves of Mao, but the bottom-up madness that seized a people), but that the whole ‘heroic Communists against the Japanese’ thing was more or less fictional – not that individual Communists didn’t fight, but that Mao’s policy was to avoid fighting, sign *deals* with the Japanese, and spend the war running opium to fund CCP operations and prepare for the fight with the Guomingdang.

November 30, 2005 @ 6:09 am | Comment

70 percent good and 77 million dead

R.J. Rummel, author of China’s Bloody Century has changed his mind on the number of dead that can be attributed to Mao thanks to two books: Wild Swans: Two Daughters of China by Jung Chang, and Mao: the Unknown Story by Jung Chang and her husband, Jon Hal

November 30, 2005 @ 8:45 am | Comment

Mao did some great things and some bad things. I’m not a big fan of what I’ve seen out of Jung Chang and some of the advances I’ve read from the book. My local library has an unbelievable number of holds on the book so I’m still waiting (no way I want this book on my bookshelf). There are a lot of questions/problems with this book and thats to be expected. I’m sure over the next few years it will be picked apart even more. The real truth is somewhere in between and I don’t think the majority of people inside CHina will ever be convinced Mao is a butcher and was evil because of all the good he did.

November 30, 2005 @ 9:34 am | Comment

“all the good he did”

Correction – the good the CCP did and Mao took the credit for.

November 30, 2005 @ 10:38 am | Comment

Mao gets first place for absolute, shear, numbers killed.

Pol Pot gets first place for highest % killed. Again it was the same means – driving city people out to the country side.

So why the fixation on Hitler? Because he took the most modern economically developed state on contintental Europe, a constitutional democracy modeled on principles of the enlightenment, Christian morality, and the rule of law and turned it into a monster by legal means in a very short period of time with wide degree of participation from the population.

Russia, China, Cambodia were all backward states. Germany was not. If you live in a modern state you cannot be secure.

November 30, 2005 @ 11:31 am | Comment

Also, I don’t think the average Chinese young nationalist would give a damn if Mao killed one billion people, as long as he ‘unified China.’

Notice how the historical propaganda machine pushes the First Emperor, Genghis Khan (a true Chinese hero!), etc as admirable figures …

November 30, 2005 @ 2:03 pm | Comment

Ivan- Did your friends tear out those photos too when they sent you that book? One lok at those and they’ll automatically know it’s no South Pacific travel book, especially the when they see those of Liu Shaoqi and the last one taken of Mao.

November 30, 2005 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

JC’s book is perhaos new to foreigners. but the worse of mao is already well documented in Chinese works — especially among Chinese dissidents abroad.

All JC added was her own biased and subjective views which took rumours and fictions as facts.

I do believe Mao is responsible ultimately for the 32M lives in Great Leap Forward. I just thought JC’s book contributed more confused than adding knowledge to our understnding of history. It does nothing than hurting the credibility and works performed by other Chinese dissidents overseas.

November 30, 2005 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

Rwanda gets the prize (shudder) for the fastest kill rate. France and Belgium supplied the guns that kept the regime in power long enough to broadcast the words that would precipitate the genocide. Machetes supplied by the middle kingdom. You know, internal affairs and all.

November 30, 2005 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

“I actually got a copy of Jung Chang’s “Mao” sent to me on the mainland.”

Ivan, since you have the book, you got to read chapter 29. It is just so hilarious. The author tried to prove General Hu is a communist. If General Hu is not a communist, this book basically portrayed Mao as a genius. I am always suspicious of CCP’s propaganda on Mao’s achievement. This book seems to tell me that CCP does not lie, at least on this account.

By the way, General Hu’s son is currently the Taiwan ambassador to Singapore and has strongly protested about chapter 29.

November 30, 2005 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

Sun Bin

Put your money where your mouth is: “already well documented in Chinese works”. OK then … show me. Name titles, places of publication, dates, authors. I want the full bibliographical details so I can go find them. I am NOT talking about publications OUTSIDE of China which happen to be written by Chinese people, but Chinese written and published works, available in PRC libraries or bookshops. Where are they? (You know as well as I do that books published by dissidents abroad get little readership in China.)

November 30, 2005 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

“OK then … show me. Name titles, places of publication,”

FSN9, let me help you out. In china, there is a publication call “wen shi zi liao”. It is labelled as internal document, but most people can borrow it. My Dad is a college professor and usually borrowed this journal home.

If you can find this journal published around mid-80s, most of those so called “Mao’s crime” is well documented there, from famine number to Mao’s negligence and power struggle. Most of account by oversea dissident is just a re-play of that journal, with some exaggerations.

November 30, 2005 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

Good thing Mao wasn’t Japanese. If he was, he probably would have pissed a lot of Chinese people off.

November 30, 2005 @ 7:17 pm | Comment

Steve, could you print the characters for wen shi zi liao or tell me the meaning of the pinyin you’ve written. i am in the mainland and would like to check this out. ditto sun bin, if you’d like to tell us the names of books or journals easily available to the common man in china, i’d love to obtain them.

November 30, 2005 @ 9:33 pm | Comment

Maybe you can upload this book to one specific web site so we can download it.
I also would like take a look on it.

November 30, 2005 @ 11:39 pm | Comment


that is your mouth, not my mouth.
i said chinese dissidents overseas! i never said it is availble inside PRC libraries.

just google or baidu it. if you can’t a second source, then 99% of the chance JC’s word is not credible.

December 1, 2005 @ 1:08 am | Comment

i think wen2 shi3 zi1 liao4
literature-history-data (or archive)

December 1, 2005 @ 1:14 am | Comment

the problem for JC’s book.

a compilation that includes everything, including false and rumou so that you cannot distinguish which is true. but it pretends itself as history, even though it is bad journalism. (bad means it exaggerated rumour and did not caution reader about unverifiable info).

there is NO original research that is not covered by other prior writing (so a good way to identify rumour and lies is the stuff you cannot find in other literrature).

the good side, a one stop shop for all the bad things about mao, if you are too lazy to check out a number of different books.

December 1, 2005 @ 1:19 am | Comment

Chuckles and laowai,

i tried to slice the pie in another direction and showed something similar to your observations


December 1, 2005 @ 1:21 am | Comment


I’ll ask you again – why do you keep focusing in on Chang? What about her husband’s contribution, that was supposedly more than her’s?

Also I’m curious as to why her main point, that Mao deliberately exported food during the famine, is automatically wrong? Why are you so sure that she’s wrong there?

Finally why did you try and compare the democide figures to overall populations to get a percentage? A human being killed is a human being killed. Although it helps to work out if genocide has been committed, otherwise it’s not very relevant. Unless you’re trying to argue that it doesn’t matter so much that tens of millions died in China because it was a relatively small percentage of the overall number.

December 1, 2005 @ 2:56 am | Comment

“wen2 shi3 zi1 liao4”

Si, sun bin has provided the tone.

A WARNING. This document is readily vailable to high level cardres and intellectuals. However, this journal carried “internal document, keep secret”. It implies not showing to foreigners.

If you are monitored by public security, such as foreign journalist or associated with high profile dissidents, I would strongly advise you against asking anyone borrow the book for you. You could land him in jail. Otherwise, the risk is small.

December 1, 2005 @ 3:06 am | Comment

Steve … useful information. Thanks.

Sun Bin … as I thought … you’re full of hot air, and have got nothing to show for it.

December 1, 2005 @ 6:42 am | Comment


i was a lazy typist. make it Chang and her husband. in fact, the only trouble i have is that the book was used as an academic source. i have no poblem if it is a journalist report. (with the caution that it represetns one view and not neccesarily verified)

she might well be right in many points, including food was exported. she is just incrudulous because she made some obvious lies elsewhere in her book. therefore, i am not sure if mao ‘deliberately’ exported food.

i believe in some counties there were reserve food in the barn but was not given to the farmer, those officials are guilty of the death (mao indirectly responsible as well). i read about that many years before Chang ever started writing her book.

comparing democide? to show how horrible it was. rummel showed the total number, i showed the numbers killed per murderer.
no, this does not make the % small for china, it is from 6-10%….i commented, ‘immense for such a huge country’

December 1, 2005 @ 2:12 pm | Comment

hot air filthy 9,

you are extremely lazy.

there are a few hundred pages in this search, all about Mao and Great Leap Forward


December 1, 2005 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

No, Most of adult Chinese which age exceed 40 feel Mao was 70 percent good because they had been befooled by CCP.Modern Chinese do not think so because we start to analyse Mao in historical angle eventually.Mao has some contribution for Chinese, After defeatd Japanese on 1945,China has a lot of opportunities to establish a democratical republic country,but Mao and Jiang made it impossible due to their personal ambitions,both of 2 guys were dictators so Chinese get into another tragedy,the civil war last 3 years and millions of people died in that nonsensial war. no matter who in charge of authority.China could not enter democratical society because the dictator were exsiting. Mao was good at military, But he should not respected by Chinese people.He was a politican.a rascal.a dictator. He was similar with Emperior ,he did a lot of atrocities aginst chinese to maintain his rule. He leanrd amount from Stalin and Sadam Hussein learn a lot from him too. He will be thrown into shit pool after 50 or 60 years. All of those posted by a Chinese!!!

December 4, 2005 @ 2:02 am | Comment

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