Dikköter’s Mao’s Great Famine vs. Yang’s Tombstone

I recently started reading Frank Dikköter’s book Mao’s Great Famine, The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 and am about halfway through. Reading it is not a pleasant experience. Nothing about the Great Leap Forward makes for pleasant storytelling. You can feel the author’s rage on every page, even while his style remains calm and restrained. It is clear he sees the GLF not only as a man-made calamity, which it was, but one for which Mao deserves nearly all the blame. It is a crime that Dikkoter believes ranks with the Holocaust, one that Mao supported with full awareness of its consequences, and even with malice.

The other famous book on the GLF, Yang Jisheng’s Tombstone (discussed in an earlier post here) takes a more measured look at the nightmare years, and is not so quick to accuse Mao of intentionally and maliciously wreaking suffering on his people. Or so at least we are told in this superb book review by Xujun Eberlein, one of my favorite bloggers and someone I had the pleasure to meet in Chongqing a few years ago. Everyone who reads this blog will want to see this side-by-side comparison. She clearly sides with Yang Jisheng.

“Understanding the complexity of human behavior in times of catastrophe is one of the aims of the book,” Dikötter states, and he does a good job fulfilling that goal in terms of ordinary people. But when it comes to the behavior of Mao and his colleagues, he has a tendency for simplification and caricature. The Mao under his pen is simply one of history’s most sadistic tyrants; consideration is not given to the complexity of his behavior. The reader gets the impression that Mao knew about the famine all along, but either deliberately let people starve, or was indifferent to their fate. Dikötter’s indignation toward Mao is understandable, but this representation is neither factual nor insightful.

In contrast to Dikötter, Yang Jisheng, despite his sorrow and resentment over the catastrophe, does not let personal sentiment get in the way of factual reporting and serious exploration. Aptly casting Mao as “China’s last emperor,” Yang nonetheless provides a more complete portrait.

Mao’s policies were the main cause of the famine, and nothing can excuse him from that responsibility. But the catastrophe was not a deliberate act of mass murder like the Holocaust, as Dikötter suggests. Rather, it was the result of policy failures from a governance system based on the control of ideology and information. Culminating in the Great Leap Forward in 1958, the utopian policies, enthusiastically shaped and promoted by the entire leadership, were intended to bring about China’s high-speed development. They instead resulted in the collapse of the nation’s economic pillar: agriculture. The central government’s inflated production targets and export quota led to unreasonably high procurements of grain from the peasants, while local governments under political pressure responded with inflated grain production statistics. The two types of inflation fed each other to form a vicious cycle that exhausted agricultural capacity, while the backyard steelmaking that took workers away from the land further worsened the grain shortages. After the famine started, it was prolonged because bad news was blocked from feeding back to top policy makers. Mao, thus, went through a long period of delusion and denial before, in late 1960, making a partial concession: “I myself made mistakes, too; I must correct.”

So perhaps Mao’s saving grace is that when he actually did recognize the tragedy of his policies in 1961 he took steps to reverse them. Either way, epiphany or not, Mao must assume the lion’s share of the blame, especially considering how he purged anyone who dared question his revolutionary plan to modernize China. And he didn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. Only a few years later he would seek to rehabilitate himself by launching a new campaign, one that equaled the GLF in terms of insanity, cult worship and suffering.

Like the Holocaust, the GLF is a subject of endless fascination for me, making me wonder how men can surrender their critical faculties and their humanity. And no, I am not saying the GLF equals the Holocaust.I’m not say Mao has blood on his hands the way Hitler does. But both featured certain key ingredients: blind obedience and blind faith, an ideologically twisted leader who assumed cult status, and an unfathomable lack of compassion for the suffering.

After reading this remarkable review I’m keen to read Tombstone, though the fact that it’s 900 pages in two volumes might be beyond my stamina. It is set to be published later this year. Luckily, Xujun has broken the books down to at least give us a taste of both. Read the review, and tell me how two brilliant researchers/writers could come to such different conclusions.

Update: Please note that Xujun’s excellent blog has moved to this address. You can read the sad story of how she lost her domain name here. Maddening.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 119 Comments

The divergence of opinion revolves around Mao’s intent. Given that it’s been 50 years hence and all the players are dead, if his intent could not be definitively ascertained previously, it is doubtful that it could be unearthed now.

I do like her characterization of this as “mad man” vs “incredibly stupid policy”. If it’s the former, then it simply adds to the further posthumous desecration of Mao…and that’s an oft and well-travelled road. If it’s the latter, then there is indeed something to be learned from history…though it’s not a difficult one and it’s bewildering that Mao didn’t figure it out himself.

February 4, 2012 @ 7:51 am | Comment

I like the point that the catastrophe was not a deliberate act of mass murder like the Holocaust,Rather, it was the result of policy failures from a governance system based on the control of ideology and information.

Unfortunately due to the Communist Party’s refusal to have frank discussion on its policies failure,this point has seldom been made publicly,especially in China.Instead,the average Chinese only know that it was all lies fabricated by the West.

February 4, 2012 @ 11:46 am | Comment

History is one part social science, one part art. The part that is art is always subject to one’s interpretation and perception. Historians can mostly agree on the facts, but the causes and effects are always a matter for ones interpretation.

February 4, 2012 @ 12:58 pm | Comment

I can’t wait for Shaun Rein’s book on this subject, in which he will explain that the deaths associated with the Great Leap Forward were the fault of corrupt local officials.

February 4, 2012 @ 2:29 pm | Comment

It has to be very clear that under Mao,”corrupted local officials” did not exist,and that is the absolute truth.

February 4, 2012 @ 2:44 pm | Comment

Without access to the archives from the period, it’s going to be really difficult to actually figure out who exactly was to blame for the Great Leap Forward. Leaving that question aside, though, it’s interesting to see what lessons the Party has drawn from that experiment.

More than anything else, the GLF demonstrated that revolutionary fervor is no substitute for professional expertise in creating rapid industrialization. The GLF marked the start of the Chinese shift to a technocracy, which Mao tried (and nearly succeeded in) counteracting with the Cultural Revolution.

February 4, 2012 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

At his heart, I would say Mao was a theorist who refused to adapt his theories to reality. While his grand strategy for winning the Chinese Civil War (hold the countryside and win the peasantry) proved remarkable, his grand strategy for Chinese economic development, not so much. If he is guilty of anything, it is guilty for refusing to adopt his theories to fact. This, and designing a system where policy disputes were much likelier to escalate into full-blown political life-or-death struggles, than, say, in a liberal democracy.

If there is anything I can’t excuse, it’s Mao’s 1966 reasoning that because elements of the CCP were rolling back some of his 1950s economic policies, they planned on removing him from power (and consigning him to a fate of death, or worse.) While it is obvious this sort of mentality arose out of surviving and later leading the brutal CCP purges of the 1930s, Mao’s inability to forge a new mentality once he held most of the reins of power is a most unfortunate lapse in judgment.

February 4, 2012 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

From my readings, Mao was a narcissist who wasn’t much interested in governing. Yet the idea of losing power was unacceptable to him. The GLF happened because utopian economic policies were ill-suited to the real world, first, and no one wanted to report this honestly, second. It started with local officials exaggerating crop yields and productivity because they were afraid of not meeting quotas (and/or they wanted to be promoted), and this went up the chain so by the time the information reached the top, it bore no relationship to what was actually going on. There is a wonderful, terrible anecdote in the autobiography of a Thai girl who went to live with the leadership in China, specifically with Zhou Enlai, for various diplomatic reasons, and her bringing home a sample of “backyard steel” to show Uncle Zhou. He saw it and was appalled. The great tragedy of Zhou Enlai was that he generally understood what the consequences of these misguided policies were, but was unable/unwilling to stop them.

Anyway, my take on it was that Mao didn’t intend to kill millions of people in the GLF, but he didn’t much care about the consequences of his unbridled egotism either. The People were but a blank sheet of paper, after all, for him to write his will upon.

February 4, 2012 @ 6:11 pm | Comment

Personally I find it ridiculous to state that Mao “didn’t know” about the famine’s extent at the time. Communist party during those years had informers just about everywhere, and knew every little detail of people’s daily life through the communes they created.

Of course the highest leadership was also aware of that people was starving to death. At the same time food was rotting away in the granaries throughout the country. It would have been so easy just to open them if…you didn’t have to confess your failure at the same time.

Mao and his clique did actually take people’s lives this way – starving people to death or gas them, a slight difference only.

February 4, 2012 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

“Given that it’s been 50 years hence and all the players are dead . . .

I think this is something we must start getting used to. Even ten years ago the discussions as to who was responsible for the GLF, the Cultural Revolution etc. had some currency to them. Now, even though they are still under censorship, they are beginning to slip into that part of the past remembered only by the retired. The average university student at this point is the child of people born after 1966.

Within China, the white-washed version of Mao’s rule portrayed by the present government may well outlast the version that was actually experienced by millions of often hungry and bewildered people.

February 4, 2012 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

And please guys, given the inevitable trolling this thread will receive, couldn’t you, yer know, just not reply to it?

February 4, 2012 @ 9:20 pm | Comment

t_co, Yang had extraordinary access to official documents from the time. That is what makes his book so valuable.

Mao’s inability to forge a new mentality once he held most of the reins of power is a most unfortunate lapse in judgment.

“Most unfortunate.” What an understatement. More like tragic, or catastrophic. He destroyed so much of China.

FOARP, agree about feeding the trolls. I will try to be more diligent policing this thread.

Joe, I tend to agree. Mao was warned many times, and of course he blamed the messenger. Communism was perfect; if it wasn’t working it was the fault of class enemies and rightists. Peng Dehuai warned him right at the start and got purged. Mao shoulders a lot of blame, but so do many of his top lieutenants at the time. Mao cannot be forgiven. The GLF was a wholly avoidable tragedy, manmade and a perfect demonstration of the follies of a top-down one-party state led by a power-drunk ideologically crazed strongman.

Chaon, good one.

February 5, 2012 @ 2:02 am | Comment

Which great leader in the world does not have some blood on their hands? Tell me a great leader memorialized by the world who did not kill a few hundred thousand at least? Mao, Stalin, George Washington, Genghis Khan, Louis 13, Hitler, etc.

The question is not whether it’s “moral” or not”. Using “morality” to judge great men is the business of nerds and professors, the most useless bunch in the world.

Once you are a winner, then what you do IS the definition of morality. You get to define morality.

In life, you gotta have a winner mentality.

February 5, 2012 @ 5:45 am | Comment

Yeah, everybody does it. What’s the big deal? 35 million here, 35 million there…. And who are we to judge the likes of Hitler as not being moral? We shouldn’t judge him for his lack of morality, even if it led to the death and torture of tens of millions. Hard to say whether that was immoral or not. Right.

February 5, 2012 @ 6:58 am | Comment

To 13:
At least 3 of the 6 you listed would not qualify as “great leaders”. Ruthless, certainly. Maniacal? Probably. Great? Not so much.

Let’s take your premise for a second: “winners” define morality. OK. Well, since we’re questioning Mao’s morality, it seems he didn’t really end up in the “winner’s circle”, did he? Sure, he kept power until his death, and was certainly a “winner” when it came to ruthlessness and egotism. But his morals clearly don’t have the credentials to stand the test of time.

And you might start to actually think about the jingoistic rah-rah phrases you espouse. You can have a “winner mentality” that isn’t an amoral one.

February 5, 2012 @ 8:10 am | Comment

I have to agree with Richard on Dikotter here: the book is pretty harrowing, I started reading it in August of last year and I’ve had to continue in piecemeal fashion since then due to the unpleasant nature of the content.m

It is a well-researched book, and the access to the archives given almost unprecedented. Frank Dikotter did an extremely thorough job on perhaps the worst period of China’s history.

That said, occasionally his obvious (and justifiable) personal dislike for Mao leads to what appears to be stretching the truth. Sometimes the author makes little assumptions on poor or no evidence at all, and during my reading I felt there was more than a little narrative licence being employed.

Nevertheless, it’s an excellent account, if one that can only be read in a slow and deliberate fashion. One needs a stiff drink after a few pages to recover from the shock at the stupidity, narcissism and arrogance of the cadres starving ordinary people to death through their dogged adherence to the Party line.

February 5, 2012 @ 8:24 am | Comment

@Stephen King

Mao, Stalin, George Washington, Genghis Khan and Louis 13? Louis… 13? Are you sure you got your numbers right? Louis XIII was just kind of clueless, Richelieu ran France for him.

Also, what is Washington doing in that list. Maybe I’ve been brainwashed by Murkan propaganda, but I thought the man retired of his own free will after two terms, and was immensely happy to go back to his farm and focus on his budding distillery. This is an action hardly consistent with the behavior of a narcissistic psychopath. Not to mention that he was mourned in a great many places when he died: in the late 1700s the US was on the cusp of war with France and even the French Republic ordered 10 days of national mourning.

… and if I remember correctly, Mao, Stalin and Genghis Khan never retired to a respectable, peaceful, provincial position. I doubt they wanted to, but even if they did, it wasn’t really feasible…

Frankly, I don’t think that many people hated GW the 1st. Dude died of natural causes, even though he was pretty defenseless at Mount Vernon.

February 5, 2012 @ 9:04 am | Comment

Mao the last emperor? Isn’t the current system a development of the triumvirate? Had a glance at Wikipedia and found this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Excellencies. Seems to me that the current system is pretty much the empire run by appointed “excellencies”, none of whom are elected but appointed by the inner circle – regents, if you will.
One wonders how long this dynasty will last – I have heard all the arguments for it (heck, no end of CCP “agents” telling us so in every China story in every western news article and every sinological blog) but seems there is…..well, a discontentment.

February 5, 2012 @ 5:21 pm | Comment

Dikotter is not one to even bother pretending he’s almost somewhat evenhanded. His work on race in Ancient China is a similar joke, sourced by China-haters everywhere.

As for Mao, any “casualty” figure over 30 million is dubious, unless you blame him for floods. I still believe Mao was incompetent, but the idea that he’s somehow worse than Hitler or Stalin is utterly laughable.

Under Mao, population and life expectancy grew steadily. That’s not saying much considering China just started seeing some semblance of stability after nearly 100 years of war, but it just goes to show that the demographic pattern in China does not reflect Germany’s or Soviet Russia’s. During WW2 the Germans (and Japanese) annihilated entire communities in weeks, under Mao death rates were relatively high – but not as high as they were in other parts of the developing world.

February 6, 2012 @ 4:08 am | Comment

“I still believe Mao was incompetent, but the idea that he’s somehow worse than Hitler or Stalin is utterly laughable.”
—agreed. I don’t believe Mao had a similar malicious intent, the absence of which makes comparison to Hitler and Stalin invalid.

February 6, 2012 @ 5:01 am | Comment

No, Mao was not worse than Hitler or Stalin. But he was still pretty awful in terms of brutalizing his people. I think there was a greater degree of malice to the Cultural Revolution, which was largely about settling personal scores.

February 6, 2012 @ 5:25 am | Comment

To keep things in perspective India under the Raj had double “GLF”-like death rates for half a century. If we are to use the standards applied to Mao, the British are responsible for (a crude estimate) 300 million deaths.

February 6, 2012 @ 6:02 am | Comment

300 million? That would have been like 10 percent of the world’s population at the time. You have to document that.

But I’d rather the conversation sticks with China, and not the usual, “well, these guys did it, too.”

February 6, 2012 @ 6:06 am | Comment

THe GLF was a moronic move by Mao, but i wouldn’t characterize the result as being intentional in the sense that he didn’t set out expressly with the goal of killing millions of Chinese people. On the other hand, while he may have paved his road with good intentions, that road did nonetheless lead to a rather hellish place for millions. In the final accounting, this era might be a bit ambiguous.

The CR is a different story. I think you can invoke a lot more malicious intent on Mao’s part for that little exercise. That period of his reign could be characterized as being somewhat more Stalinesque. But Hitler still stands alone atop the list of mad men. Mao wasn’t in his league. I guess Chinese people of that era could at least be thankful for that.

February 6, 2012 @ 6:27 am | Comment

I don’t classify the GLF as intentional. As I said in my post, Mao’s saving grace is that once he finally acknowledged what a catastrophe it was he allowed it to be rolled back. The tragedy is that it took three years for this to happen despite copious evidence something was not right.

Mao can never be compared to Hitler, at least not in terms of blood on his hands. He and Stalin and Hitler all can be compared for creating personality cults with lethal consequences, but Hitler was the gold standard of pure evil. Stalin isn’t that far behind; his own famines in the Ukraine and Georgia were both intentional and malevolent. Mao is on a different level, but that doesn’t let him off the hook for creating, as SKC says, a hellish place for everyone.

February 6, 2012 @ 6:32 am | Comment

As bad as Hitler? Well, China fought a number of wars during his time in which China was accused of being the aggressor, but otherwise the Nazi regime was quite different.

As bad as Stalin? Well, given that Mao consciously modelled his government on Stalin’s, this should not surprise us. It should, however, be noted that real evidence of just how bad Stalin was only really became known to us because of Khruschev’s denunciation of him, and the later opening of most of the archives. Some parts of the old Soviet archives remain closed – notably that part dealing with the decision that the Soviet armies should stop outside Warsaw during the ’44 uprising – and without these parts of the archives being opened it is still impossible to say whether such decisions were intentional or merely negligent.

People have also mentioned the famine in the Ukraine in 1933. I think it should be pointed out that if we are to be as fair to Stalin as we are to Mao, then we would describe the GLF and the Ukrainian famine in the same terms, because the evidence for either event being intentional is at about the same level.

Given that Mao was never denounced in the way that Stalin was, it is not surprising that the details we know about Stalin (particularly his cold-blooded ruthlessness in having even his closest associates killed or consigned to the gulag) are not, to such a great extent, known about Mao. If they were known in their entirety, I don’t think there would be any question that Mao would be seen much more darkly in China than he is now. His treatment of Zhou Enlai indicates his character.

To put things in ridiculously simplified terms, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung and the rest of the grisly gang of mid-20th century communist dictators were all pretty much of a muchness.

Still, I think we need to start putting some perspective on the Mao years. His rise to power happened more than 70 years ago, his death almost 40 years ago.

February 6, 2012 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

Mao perhaps didn’t have any malicious intent (questionable), but he certainly showed a complete lack of caring for starving people when he found out what was happening. Comparisons to Hitler are difficult because it’s difficult to measure “evil” (especially when considering intent). However, if you only measure by number of deaths, Mao leaves Hitler in the dust.

“如果粮食不够吃,人民都会饿死。但让一半人饿死,另一半人饱食,总比让所有人饿死好的多”。
“When there is not enough to eat people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill.”

February 6, 2012 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

300 million? That would have been like 10 percent of the world’s population at the time. You have to document that.

A more relevant measure is the rate of deaths over a certain period. And whether this rate is higher than that which would normally be the case, had a certain factor or factors been removed.

For example the US has a crude mortality of 8around 9 deaths per thousand per year. This means over 20 years say, about 55 million Americans have died. But it is wrong then to say about one sixth of the US population has died. Or if we consider 10 years,one twelth the population has died. That would be an absurd way of describing things.

It is the rate of dying that is the important measure.

Cookie Monster could quite possibly correct with his 300 million excess deaths under the British over half a century. Some authors have calculated that British caused excess deaths in India between 1757 and 1947 to be as high as 1.5 billion. And 400 million from 1900 to 1947.

http://www.ivarta.com/columns/OL_060610.htm

But these estimates are probably exaggerated. Because they use a very low baseline mortality of 1/1000 per year.

But 100 million excess deaths is quite possible.

It is widely known that 20 to 30 million died at the end of the 19th Century in hideous famines in India, about 1.5 million in the Irish famine. Both the Indian and Irish famines vastly exceeded in extent and scope even the worst estimates of the GLF famine, if we take respective population sizes into account.

Here is a very rough calculation for India in the 20th Century

Crude annual mortality exceeded 40/1000 per year, on average over this period.
This is an absolutely horrific figure, even for its time.

Consider the fact that for Russia in 1917 it was about 30/1000 per year. And for China in 1949 (38/1000 per year). China during the years of the GLF was around (24/1000 per year).

It is reasonable to assume an average population size of 250 million over the period considered. Very crudely, assuming 30/1000 to be normal for a poor country (vs the actual of 40/1000 for India, that is 10/1000 excess deaths per year over 47 years.

Applying this to the average population of 250 million this comes to 250 x 47 x 10/1000 = 118 million excess deaths.

About 120 million excess deaths under British colonialism is surely a great crime against humanity.

February 6, 2012 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

However, if you only measure by number of deaths, Mao leaves Hitler in the dust.

We need to compare apples with apples. I think WWII caused over 40 to 50 million deaths in Europe alone, over a population base significantly smaller than that of China’s. These deaths would not have occurred had Hitler not launched his war.

Remember we are not just measuring deaths caused by bomb, bullets, and bayonets. If this was the case, Mao would be responsible for far fewer deaths.

February 6, 2012 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

I think it is quite unbelivable that Mao went ahead to deliberately cause mass starvation. What could he possibly have gained by it?

He wanted the Great Leap Forward to succeed, not to fail. He dreamed that there would be so much food that people would soon be able to eat for free (refer Xujun Eberlein’s review). What happend of course was quite the opposite.

Mao lost both prestige and power because of the famine. Hardly something he would have wanted.

Even at the time the CCP considered the GLF a disaster. Whereas if the Nazis had acutally succeeded in killing all the Jews (and many Slavs), they would hardly have considered that a disaster, but a major achievement. That’s a big moral difference.

Well, China fought a number of wars during his time in which China was accused of being the aggressor, but otherwise the Nazi regime was quite different.

Border clashes over some disputed land hardly equate to the invasion of vast lands for lebensraum. The US has also fought in many wars since 1945. But those who say the US is as bad as Nazi Germany because of Iraq and Vietnam are also being ridiculous.

February 6, 2012 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

Well if you don’t count the Chinese civil war then Mao didn’t really initiate any war outside of China… so to speak anyawy, it’s hard to say that the Korean war or even China’s entrance into it was really their fault.

The other major war China had during the PRC era outside of China happened a couple years after his death (the one with Vietnam, though there was also some really messy politics in there)

He’s far from a saint obviously, but most founders of a major dynasty had plenty of crazy shite going for them as well, I don’t think Mao’s more crazy (or bloody) then say… the Ming dynasty founder at least.

February 6, 2012 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

@RW – All depends who you ask. The Indians claim the PRC attacked them. So did the Soviets. Korea was a war of choice – particularly the latter phase in and around Seoul. The attack on Kinmen in ’49 could be said to be an extension of the civil war, but that in ’54 was an act of aggression. Of course we shall not mention a particular Himalayan theocracy.

We could also add to this the various disasterous movements Mao supported world-wide, which included everyone from the Khmer Rouge to Robert Mugabe. The guy didn’t exactly keep savoury company.

Are all dynasty-openers crazed dictators? I guess good arguments can be made for the Han, Ming, and Qing, as well as most obviously the Yuan. The Tang? Song? Don’t know – my history obviously isn’t good enough.

February 6, 2012 @ 7:20 pm | Comment

Daniel, I agree, I don’t think Mao set out to kill millions through starvation or that their deaths were comparable to those who did in the Holocaust or under Pol Pot. I do think he could have cared more and listened at the beginning to what his people were telling him.

February 6, 2012 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

“I think it is quite unbelivable that Mao went ahead to deliberately cause mass starvation. What could he possibly have gained by it?

He wanted the Great Leap Forward to succeed, not to fail.”

The exact same could be said of collectivisation under Stalin, Pol Pot also wanted his “Year Zero” policy to work, nor could the Kims have intended millions to die in the famine during the 90′s due to their “Juche” and “Songun” policies. The thing that all these people have that tied them to gether was a desire to impose inhuman ideology on the real world and to smash anything and everything that got in the way of this.

February 6, 2012 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

We could also add to this the various disasterous movements Mao supported world-wide, which included everyone from the Khmer Rouge to Robert Mugabe.

You are certainly right in respect of Pol Pot.

As for Mugabe, I’m not too sure how much help he actually received from Mao. But remember it has only been over the past ten years or so that Mugabe has been viewed as a corrupt and evil despot, even in the West. Many sympathised with him during his fight against white-minority rule, and he was even awarded a knighthood by the British at one stage. So supporting Mugabe during his guerilla years would have been hardly something that many people, even in the West, would have seen as morally questionable

As for your mention of the ‘Himalayan theocracy’, it should be borne in mind that Chiang would likely have done the same had he been in power, and perhaps even threatened Mongolia. In fact as early as 1943, the US had assured the then Nationalist government that they recognised Chinese sovereignty over Tibet. One can argue the rights and wrongs of Tibet as part of China, but I think the ‘invasion’ would have happened under any Chinese government of any political stripe, with the means to carry it out. Both the PRC and ROC considered Tibet all along as part of China.

The scrap with the Soviets was over a bit of territory (Zhenbao island) which has since been returned to China. As for the Sino-Indian war, it was quite clearly provoked by the Indians.

February 7, 2012 @ 12:06 am | Comment

The thing that all these people have that tied them to gether was a desire to impose inhuman ideology on the real world and to smash anything and everything that got in the way of this.</i

Xujun Eberlein makes a similar point, although she is rather more forgiving of Mao:

"Looking at Mao’s denial and the failure of his government to correct its disastrous policies in a timely fashion, I find more parallels to the financial crisis of 2008, the sovereign debt mess in Greece, and the Iraq war than to the Holocaust. Denial is commonplace among politicians and other leading players, especially those ideologically driven, and this is what a good governance system should guard against."

Cookie Monster has made a good point however. The demographic patterns in China under Mao are simply different to those of the Cambodians under Pol Pot, the Hereros under the Germans, the Congolese under the Belgians, the Irish in the 1840s, and of course the Jewish population under Hitler. They show significant declines in mortality, birth rate, and increases in life-expectancy over the period of his rule, all three factors contributing to the most explosive growth in China's population in history. Dikotter though is right in one respect—Mao never had complete control over the party as Stalin had over his (except perhaps in the very final years). And this perhaps somewhat limited the damage he would otherwise have caused.

February 7, 2012 @ 12:31 am | Comment

Correction:

“They show significant declines in mortality, birth rate, and increases in life-expectancy over the period of his rule, the first and last factors contributing to the most explosive growth in China’s population in history”

February 7, 2012 @ 12:34 am | Comment

@Daniel – Fair enough about Mugabe. The Indians and the Russians obviously say differently about who did what first, but this doesn’t mean they are automatically right.

Chiang most likely would have tried to get Tibet back, and given his later-years craziness (asking the US for nuclear weapons to spearhead an invasion of the mainland) it’s not out-of-bounds to suggest that he would have used violent means to do so.

There’s always the question of whether a KMT mainland government would have been worse or better than a CCP one. The history of the KMT on Taiwan suggests that there might have been some pretty vicious periods of repression, but that economic reform might have come earlier. It is, however, also entirely possible that victory in the civil war would have prevented the kind of soul-searching that went on after their defeat, and that reform might have been slower than it was in real life.

What we can say is that not even the poorest of Taiwanese I spoke to duing my time there had stories to match those that my older acquaintainces on the mainland had to recount.

One guy I knew, an ex-member of the Nanjing police force, and a brilliant cook, used to talk about the days during the early 60′s when he used to risk severe punishment by going out to Anhui, catching a smallish fish, strapping it to his belly, and then smuggling it back into Nanjing to sell for a few Jiao. He, however, described himself as fairly lucky during that time compared to others.

I remember the same guy once said to me that, on my mentioning the Jewish religion, “Ah! The Jews! Of all the world’s peoples they have suffered the most – even more than us Chinese!”. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bit of an exaggeration to even compare the sufferings of the Jewish people to those of the Chinese, but then I thought that, from his perspective, the comparison probably wasn’t so much of an exaggeration.

The person most responsible for this was Mao.

February 7, 2012 @ 12:45 am | Comment

@Daniel
He wanted the Great Leap Forward to succeed, not to fail. He dreamed that there would be so much food that people would soon be able to eat for free (refer Xujun Eberlein’s review). What happend of course was quite the opposite.

That’s only half the story. Peng Dehuai was ruthlessly purged for criticizing Mao’s mistakes in the GLF. Instead of spending his years reflecting and accounting for his mistakes, Mao launched a bloody political comeback in the form of a long cruel and unnecessary catastrophe: The Cultural Revolution. Even if we gave Mao the benefit of doubt for all his “good” intentions about the GLF, the Cultural Revolution revealed the hideous face of a vicious and unrepentant power hungry monster who was willing to plunge the country into untold suffering and violence to preserve his own position and power.

February 7, 2012 @ 1:56 am | Comment

Richard
300 million? That would have been like 10 percent of the world’s population at the time. You have to document that.

I said “half a century”. They didn’t all die at the same time.

Chip
However, if you only measure by number of deaths, Mao leaves Hitler in the dust.

No, he doesn’t. If you want to be asinine, Mao is responsible for negative 400 million or so deaths. Hitler killed, actually murdered, 25-30 million people in Europe. They didn’t starve, they were shot or burned or bombed or gassed or run over with by tanks. The people who died of starvation and exposure as a result of the Third Reich’s aggression were not counted.

February 7, 2012 @ 5:23 am | Comment

FOARP
The Indians claim the PRC attacked them.

Every Western intelligence agency says otherwise. The Indians were posturing and an attack was inevitable. Lets not even go into the absolute ridiculousness of their territorial claims nor their underhanded annexation of Sikkim.

February 7, 2012 @ 5:25 am | Comment

Hitler killed a couple million Jews and the Germans are never allowed to forget it. Mao killed a couple million Chinese, no one really cares, not even the Chinese. The Jews murder several million gentiles in the Holodomor, down the memory hole it goes.

The Jews are accomplished masters of the cult of victimology and the power it wields over others.

February 7, 2012 @ 5:27 am | Comment

Bit of a stretch to suggest that “no one really cares, not even Chinese” when it come to the deaths Mao was responsible for. Perhaps the Mao worshippers would rather people not care.

Dead is dead, I suppose. But even I wouldn’t equate what Mao did with an Auschwitzian gas chamber, so I’m curious why you guys like to invoke Hitler and Nazis so often. I guess if you really want to make Mao look good, Hitler is the only flattering comparator available to you.

February 7, 2012 @ 6:14 am | Comment

To SP,
agreed. Mao can get a pass on “intent” for the GLF. He certainly has to pay full freight on the CR. So if one were to look at his entire reign, the accounting definitely looks even less flattering than an assessment of GLF alone.

February 7, 2012 @ 6:17 am | Comment

I don’t know where you get your history from, Jing, but you’re way off the mark. The Holodomor was instituted by a cabal made up of Jesuits, Masons and Rotarians under the leadership of Tallulah Bankhead.

Tallulah Bankhead, as we all know, was an agent of the Great Han Conspiracy. It’s goals; to stop the world from hurting the feelings of the Chinese people and to get western women to admit that they find Han men the most attractive.

OPEN YOUR EYES, JING!!!

February 7, 2012 @ 9:02 am | Comment

SK Cheung
He certainly has to pay full freight on the CR. So if one were to look at his entire reign, the accounting definitely looks even less flattering than an assessment of GLF alone.

In a similar way, you can blame him for “creating” 400 million Chinese people and doubling their life expectancies. Hitler didn’t do any of that for anyone, even his precious bubble Empire.

February 7, 2012 @ 10:33 am | Comment

Cookie, Hitler did amazing things for ordinary Germans, far more impressive than anything Mao ever did. At least, that is, until about 1941. Look into his Hope through Joy program, his incredible triumph over unemployment and depression, and restoring Germany from battered housewife to world superpower. Of course, it was largely through deficit spending, especially for the military, but there is no doubt Hitler would have been remembered as Germany’s savior had he died in, say, 1938. So I would be cautious in claiming Hitler didn’t do incredible things for the Germans — though, alas,the cost was utterly catastrophic. Mao may have done lots of dandy things for the Chinese people as you maintain — but at what cost? Both Hitler and Mao, while not in the same category, as I stress in my comments above, wreaked havoc on their own people.

Jing, I am wondering if you are now a full-fledged troll. I remember when you used to be a decent guy, one I respected. What happened? Bizarre.

February 7, 2012 @ 11:03 am | Comment

Can’t just blame the leaders, mind. Given the scale of what happened, there was the whole apparatus staffed by men and women who did the killing as a day job. I recall there was an album published somewhere showing concentration camp workers enjoying themselves after hours – everything was so chilling in that the pictures showed totally innocent past times like swimming, Christmas, etc.
As your trolls show, Richard, there’s no limits to the degradation of the human mind. Even the killings of millions of people can be overlooked and quickly forgotten with the right education. One could say the CCP learnt well from the Turks….

PS – Mussolini is still revered in parts of Northern Italy – he is widely credited with making the trains run on time!

February 7, 2012 @ 11:16 am | Comment

In a similar way, you can blame him for “creating” 400 million Chinese people and doubling their life expectancies. Hitler didn’t do any of that for anyone, even his precious bubble Empire.

There it is. Merp’s famous “The millions of deaths caused by the GLF don’t matter because the general population increased at the same time” argument. Pathetic.

February 7, 2012 @ 11:57 am | Comment

That’s one way to dismiss the point of my argument, which is that your tooth-gnashing about Mao sounds equally absurd.

Richard
Hitler did amazing things for ordinary Germans, far more impressive than anything Mao ever did.

I think you are simply understating China’s situation after the end of WW2. It was nothing but a burning husk. Germany was never pushed nearly as far.

February 7, 2012 @ 12:11 pm | Comment

Read up on Germany after WWI, and the chaos after the crash of 1929. Blood on the streets, near total anarchy. Direct comparisons are stupid, but it’s safe to say Germany faced an existential crisis unlike any other, without which there never would have been a Hitler. Anyway, next subject….

February 7, 2012 @ 12:24 pm | Comment

That’s simply because you don’t appreciate how bad things were in China. You have a history of consistently diminishing how much the typical Chinese civilian suffered at the hands of not only the Qing, and the Communists, but under a corrupt KMT, the Japanese, Europeans and Americans.

February 7, 2012 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

To 46,
Your “logic”, as usual, is truly bizarre. First of all, what exactly did Mao do to “create” hundreds of millions of Chinese people? And yes, Chinese life expectancy increase correlated with Mao in power…but what did he do to directly contribute to that increase? Now, let’s assume he and he alone is responsible for chinas population growth and health improvement. But wasn’t he the leader? Wasn’t that his job? Even if you choose to give him full credit for those things ( which in itself is bizarre), he was doing his job. So, what part of his job description entails killing hundreds of millions of his people, intentionally or not?

And what’s with the constant fascination with hitler? Yes, Mao was better than hitler. If you want to damn Mao with the faintest of praise imaginable, well, ok, whatever floats your boat.

February 7, 2012 @ 1:58 pm | Comment

“There it is. Merp’s famous “The millions of deaths caused by the GLF don’t matter because the general population increased at the same time” argument. Pathetic.”

I don’t think that was Cookie Monster’s meaning, to be fair.

If one said that Mao was responsible for the deaths of a whole bunch of people, but that did not matter because people made up for it with a whole lot more babies, then yes, Cookie Monster’s statement should be condemned out of hand.

But the point is the population in China doubled during Mao’s time, not because of women having more babies (Chinese women would on average give birth to about six children in 1950, by 1976 this had fallen to about 3.5), but simply because mortality declined rapidly during this time, more rapidly in fact than in many other developing countries –although I would doubt this amounted to anything near Cookie Monster’s 300 or 400 million fewer deaths – how does he quantify that?

The worst period for mortality was during the GLF. The deaths during the GLF were wholly unnecessary, given the remarkable drop in mortality between 1949 and 1957. So the ‘excess’ deaths are measured against what had been achieved in terms of mortality just before the GLF, not measured against the very high mortality rates prior to 1949 (when there was war and revolution).

But again the point has to be made. These deaths did not have to occur. It was peacetime (part of the reason for the drop in mortality before the GLF), and after the policies which led to mass starvation were stopped, mortality rates quickly resumed their downward trend again -indicating that it was indeed these same policies which were largely responsible for the huge number of excess deaths. So it could be argued that the improvements in the PRC under Mao happened in spite of him, not because of him. And without him, perhaps 30 million less people would have died.

Simply saying the mortality rates during the GLF were typical for developing countries of the time, or whatever, or not as bad as before 1949, may have some truth; but the salient point is the deaths simply did not have to occur. Millions of people who should have been alive in 1961 who were not.

But was the GLF China’s greatest ever catastrophe, as Dikotter puts it?

I would say far from it. Deaths caused by invasions of the Japanese and other Western powers, and the very high excess mortalities sustained over several decades resulting from these invasions (imperialism to be blunt) were a real catastrophe for China. Death of family members, of half ones brothers and sisters are a fact of the GLF in some parts of China, but even more so for the 1930s and 1940s and throughout most parts of China.

So those who argue that the CCP killed more than the Japanese, say, are being ridiculous. If we hold Mao and the CCP responsible for all ‘excess’ deaths during the GLF, similarly we should hold the Japanese invaders responsible for all ‘excess’ deaths caused by their military invasions of China. The accounting has not been done, but the Japanese net effect on China’s population would be horrendous. China’s population growth rate during this period was about four or five times slower than during the Mao period—in spite of higher fertility rates before 1949 than after 1949.

And then these is the moral perspective, again. The Japanese caused deaths through military invasion. Mao through stupidity and arrogance.

February 7, 2012 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

“Read up on Germany after WWI, and the chaos after the crash of 1929. Blood on the streets, near total anarchy”

Yes. But China in 1949, was as Cookie Monster said a ‘burning husk’ with almost zero industrial base, appalling life expectancy, literacy, and in per-capita GDP terms one of the poorest countries in the world.

Even by looking at pictures of Germans in the 1920s and comparing these with Chinese say in the 1940s,there is simply no comparison in terms of who are more well fed, better dressed, etc. Germany in the 1920s was still for its time a modern industrialised state as can be seen from photos of the era.

Germans might have had to pay for a loaf of bread with a wheelbarrow of banknotes at one stage, but they never had poverty like this?
http://tinyurl.com/849996v

February 7, 2012 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

Cookie, China isn’t the only country to have suffered. That’s all I’m saying. I have always acknowledge the horrific suffering the Chinese experienced, which reached its apex in the GLF and the CR, or at least one of its apexes. The Jews suffered throughout much of history, too, reaching its apex under Hitler. The fact that they suffered the worse then doesn’t take away from how much they suffered at the hands of others.

Daniel, no doubt there was suffering aplenty under the Japanese, and at other times in China’s history. That doesn’t diminish in any way the horrors of the GLF. Worst thing that ever happened to China? Hard to quantify. But let’s say it was, oh, the third worst thing. That would still make it abominable enough.

February 7, 2012 @ 11:30 pm | Comment

To Daniel #49,
Well said, especially here : “improvements in the PRC under Mao happened in spite of him, not because of him. “

February 8, 2012 @ 1:17 am | Comment

Oops, #54.

February 8, 2012 @ 1:25 am | Comment

@Daniel
So those who argue that the CCP killed more than the Japanese, say, are being ridiculous. If we hold Mao and the CCP responsible for all ‘excess’ deaths during the GLF, similarly we should hold the Japanese invaders responsible for all ‘excess’ deaths caused by their military invasions of China. The accounting has not been done, but the Japanese net effect on China’s population would be horrendous. China’s population growth rate during this period was about four or five times slower than during the Mao period—in spite of higher fertility rates before 1949 than after 1949.

And then these is the moral perspective, again. The Japanese caused deaths through military invasion. Mao through stupidity and arrogance.

Invaders are enemies, no one in their sane mind would expect enemies to be all lovey-dovey when they captured a certain place. For countrymen to be killed by their own leaders (intentional or otherwise) is not only abhorrent but ridiculous because leaders are supposed to protect their people from harm and do things for their best interest. Mao, as the leader,had the duty and obligation to promote the welfare of his people while enemies like the Japanese Imperial Army had none of those. That is precisely why Mao’s deadly deed in the GLF was even more glaring because he couldn’t even fulfill the basic requirement of a leader.

Moral perspective? Let’s not kid ourselves. If Mao himself had any decent “moral” perspective, he should hold himself accountable to the people, resign and retire from politics altogether after the GLF and solemnly apologise to the whole nation. He did none of those. Instead, he launched another murderous campaign in the form of the Cultural Revolution to revive his political fortune, disregarding the bloodshed, cruelty, chaos he plunged China into. That’s how “moral” Mao was.

February 8, 2012 @ 2:23 am | Comment

SK Cheung
Now, let’s assume he and he alone is responsible for chinas population growth and health improvement.

I’m going to ignore the part where the point went right over your head, and just address this. If we don’t “assume he and he alone is responsible” for China’s population growth, why pin all the blame for deaths on him? Exactly. As much as I dislike Mao, I still recognize the need to be consistent.

Richard
Cookie, China isn’t the only country to have suffered. That’s all I’m saying.

The notion that anyone thinks this is a myth. I’m well aware what has gone on around the world in the last 100 years. I agree with Daniel in that Mao caused excess deaths that would not otherwise had happened. My argument is that we should apply equal standards. If we use the standards used to judge Mao, the British Empire easily killed hundreds of millions in India, Hitler is probably responsible for at least 40, 50, 60 million deaths (in a very short time period) and the Japanese possibly even more.

Yet the “headline figure” for each of these lovely entities is far below what they should be given credit for, if we are to be consistent. The idea that Mao “murdered” 70 million people has largely been popularized by cold warriors and conservative loons everywhere who want to equate Nancy Pelosi or Barack Obama with Hitler. Its been hijacked by frankly anti-Chinese zealots, and now Mao is not really seen for what he really was in history but as a prop and a boogeyman or something to browbeat “the Chinese” with on the international arena.

February 8, 2012 @ 3:38 am | Comment

” why pin all the blame for deaths on him? ”
— because the exercise of the GLF was his little baby, and resulted in all those excess deaths, albeit possibly unintentionally. And the misadventure of the CR was another one of his mutant kids, but the deaths therefrom are much more intentional, and his culpability is more blatant than for the GLF. The “consistency” point you’ve yet to address is that the “assumption” is itself unfounded, and was merely made to establish a point of comparison. As I posed in the two questions directly preceding the assumption, the amount of credit Mao should be due for those good bits is still highly debatable. You really should read the entire comment before you respond.

The other bit with being consistent is that, as I said, Mao doing some good (assuming he did) should be expected. But Mao killing millions of Chinese (intentionally or otherwise) is…um…somewhat unexpected, methinks. At least for a guy who was supposedly leading his country. I doubt his mandate was to go and off millions.

February 8, 2012 @ 7:24 am | Comment

Mao alone can’t be blamed for all of the excess deaths under either the GLF or CR. He takes a lot of it, but you can’t really blame him for floods and droughts, nor the behavior of some Red Guards that went completely out of control.

Likewise I would attribute the rise in living standards and population to a “normalization” after 100 years of upheaval, but the CCP can take some credit for keeping the nation from falling apart and handling outstanding territorial disputes peacefully.

February 8, 2012 @ 7:42 am | Comment

Most people will acknowledge that the CCP under Mao’s leadership did accomplish a lot. What is a bit surprising is that the excesses and brutality are conveniently airbrushed out.
Another thing I am a bit unsure about is the numbers bandied around. This increase in Chinese population – is it due to more people or due to more counting? Are the statistics true? Why are these numbers uncontested and yet the numbers of deaths hotly so?
Indeed, why are people still arguing the point? Mao did kill millions by his actions and words. So did Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill, Leopold II et al. All also did much to enrich the lives of their people – doesn’t make them saints.

February 8, 2012 @ 7:59 am | Comment

Cookie, under your logic you can’t blame America for the “bad apples” in Iraq who committed atrocities — I do blame America, because we we created the environment for it. Just as Mao created the environment for Red Guards to run amok and torture and kill, and just as he created the culture of terror and blind obedience that led to the horrors of the GLF. No, I don’t blame him for floods or other natural phenomena. But that still leaves him with some accountability for the deaths of millions killed by unnatural circumstances (starvation communes, tools taken away and melted, slave labor, grain confiscated, etc.). No, not murder; I’m not saying Mao murdered them. But he was accountable for them, millions and millions of them who weren’t killed in floods but starved to death in their homes. The CR, on the other hand, is closer to murder, or at least incitement to extreme violence that led to murder; you can’t blame floods for that. That was Mao’s baby, and he owns it.

February 8, 2012 @ 8:46 am | Comment

Mike, you would really put Churchill in the same sentence as Stalin, Hitler and Leopold? The other three carried out murder from their plush offices with malice. They not only condoned torture, mutilation and mass murder, they institutionalized it. Is Churchill in that category? Just asking.

February 8, 2012 @ 8:48 am | Comment

Hi Richard – there’s a typo here. It’s Yang Jisheng, not Yang Jinsheng. Best,

February 8, 2012 @ 9:23 am | Comment

@ Mike. Leopold 11….”All also did much to enrich the lives of their people”. I’m wondering who benefitted from this life enrichment stuff. The Belguim royal family or the limbless ones in the Congo?

Churchill enters the death race, and I expect a Dresden reference any minute now.

Just wonder how many here read Dikkoters text, or his previous The Age of Openness which functions as a backdrop.

All these experts? What no Jasper Becker?

Keep in mind, that Dikkoter’s book would have been edited to within an inch of its life, so it would have lost a bit of its nuance. Think of it also a Sino-study similar to something written by Antony Beever….popular readership fodder.

I suspect a lot of commenters here write, but don’t read.

February 8, 2012 @ 9:46 am | Comment

Thanks, Massbless, I will correct it.

Tubby, as I said in my post I’m half-way done with the Dikotter book now. The Beever comparison may fit, but then, we need historians like that or most people would never know history.

I have read Becker, too. So depressing.

February 8, 2012 @ 9:48 am | Comment

Looks like people are busy comparing Mao vs Hitler and Stalin. As a Chinese, we certainly think Mao is the evilest. Also we really hate Stalin because if not Stalin’s support of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao and his gangs would never had the chance to take over China.

There’s one thing I see people miss here when tabulating death tolls on these three people. All three killed millions of people, and brain washed even more. But Hitler’s propaganda very quickly faded, Stalin couldn’t even control his successors and got denounced immediately after death, while Mao is still being honored by the China authority – we know how much hatred Deng Xiaoping had against Mao, but Deng couldn’t do what Kruschev did. Mao is more fond of crushing a person’s spirit than his flesh. In under just 27 years, the Chinese were transformed to a population without any faith, full of cheating, hatred, disrespect and apathy. It need a lot of years to repair.

February 8, 2012 @ 9:51 am | Comment

Each of these top-down disasters, be it Pol Pot, Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Gulag or the GLF had their own internal dynamics and logic. All this comparativism is of little value in explaining any or all.
When you think about it, the compare and contrast strategy so evident in many of the above comments is exactly the one always employed by the HH crowd.

February 8, 2012 @ 10:02 am | Comment

KT, you point me to one thread over there that you feel compares to this one. Please, don’t ever compare this site to theirs.

Comparisons are nothing unusual. Historians make them every day. Alan Bullock wrote his classic Hitler and Stalin comparing the two. It is human nature and it is historically valid. No leader exists in a vacuum, and all are judged based on their relation to others.

February 8, 2012 @ 10:24 am | Comment

@Cookie
I agree with Daniel in that Mao caused excess deaths that would not otherwise had happened. My argument is that we should apply equal standards. If we use the standards used to judge Mao, the British Empire easily killed hundreds of millions in India, Hitler is probably responsible for at least 40, 50, 60 million deaths (in a very short time period) and the Japanese possibly even more.

Very good cookie for that “we should apply equal standards”. So it is time for the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government to step out bravely to do any of the following which it had failed to do for the past five decades since the end of the GLF.

In India, Queen Bows Her Head Over a Massacre in 1919
http://www.nytimes.com/1997/10/15/world/in-india-queen-bows-her-head-over-a-massacre-in-1919.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Murayama Danwa (村山談話)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_occasion_of_the_50th_anniversary_of_the_war%27s_end

German Chancellor’s kneeling at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Memorial
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warschauer_Kniefall

Instead of doing all these, Mao is still being honored and idolized with his gigantic portrait overlooking TSM. His victims on the other hand, doesn’t even have a proper memorial while Beijing spends millions of dollars to preserve Mao’s corpse. Equal standards are probably in your wet dreams.

February 8, 2012 @ 10:52 am | Comment

All a matter of what side of the fence you sit on. Many would place Chuchill in the “evil” camp because of what happened to them due to his policies and views. He was all for gassing Kurds, remember – Saddam did that and it wasn’t used in his defense in the media….

KT, very few limbless ones in Belgium due to Leo.

Massbless, until recently, my wife would say openly she loved Mao. What she was taught. He’s on the banknotes and his body lies embalmed and is visited reverentially by, well, millions, I guess. There are many who miss Stalin, so I read and Hitler still has many admirers – even in Israel, funnily enough (old news article on neo-Nazis there. I’m sure one can find them online).

I also wonder about the worth of comparisons – it’s basically Top Trumps on evil which doesn’t mean much. What should be focussed on is the apologetics who use these comparisons to justify the sanctity of their “idol”. It’s that sort of thing which I think led to the killings in the first place. If one can condone the actions of the leaders after teh events, I shudder to think what they’d have done at the time.

February 8, 2012 @ 11:04 am | Comment

@Dan: “There it is. Merp’s famous “The millions of deaths caused by the GLF don’t matter because the general population increased at the same time” argument. Pathetic.”

I don’t think that was Cookie Monster’s meaning, to be fair.

Merp/Ferin has made the same argument a few times in the past. I base my judgement of the latest comments on those.

February 8, 2012 @ 11:34 am | Comment

Richard
Cookie, under your logic you can’t blame America for the “bad apples” in Iraq who committed atrocities — I do blame America, because we we created the environment for it. Just as Mao created the environment for Red Guards to run amok and torture and kill, and just as he created the culture of terror and blind obedience that led to the horrors of the GLF.

I would blame Mao and his supporters in both cases – this is something difficult for many purists (not accusing you) to accept. They don’t want to believe that many Chinese citizens are at least partially responsible for what happened. Your point on the Red Guards is well taken, but I still don’t think Mao could have done much about the floods that ravaged Northern China during the GLF even if he weren’t incompetent.

Dogboy
Merp/Ferin has made the same argument a few times in the past. I base my judgement of the latest comments on those.

I wouldn’t exactly trust your memory on this. My argument was the same as the one here, blame Mao for every excess death under his reign, then you should blame him for “excess births”.

Do you need to have your hand held?

sp123
Instead of doing all these, Mao is still being honored and idolized with his gigantic portrait overlooking TSM. His victims on the other hand, doesn’t even have a proper memorial while Beijing spends millions of dollars to preserve Mao’s corpse. Equal standards are probably in your wet dreams.

The successors of the CCP did more than “bow” or offer worthless lipservice, or make pointless gestures. They lifted a few hundred million out of poverty, wiped out illiteracy, increased GDP tenfold, brought electricity and running water to the majority of households, and gave internet access to 400 million.

So yeah, not exactly equivalent to some crusty old figurehead bowing in acknowledgement of just one out of countless many atrocities the British Empire committed.

Personally, I could care less if they cremated Mao and took his portrait down.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

But that’s just me being shallow, he is physically repulsive. If he lost 50 pounds and put on a toupee I would be far more approving.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

@Richard. I definitely was not comparing your site to those nitwits at HH, and you insult me by suggesting as much. (Anyway, they hate my guts over there, and now probably more so since I equated them with the Mansion Family because of their attitudes to Black African culture)

I was referring to their mode of argumentation. For example, mention something remotely critical of China and they always wade in with references to the destruction of Indian culture or the inprisonment of Japanese American citizens during WW11 or similar.

IE. Off topic with compare and contrast counter-examples.

I was also specifically referring to an historians methodology, when explaining big picture issues such as the Gulag, the GLF etc. Its always internal dynamics and logic, plus the cultural context which shaped and organised the Mao, Stalin personality in question.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Comment

King Tubby
For example, mention something remotely critical of China and they always wade in with references to the destruction of Indian culture or the inprisonment of Japanese American citizens during WW11 or similar.

Perfectly valid arguments, considering your main angle is the supposed “inferiority” of Chinese people and culture to all others. That’s your dig and your obsession. They just cut the BS for your convenience.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

KT sorry for misunderstanding you. Comparing this thread to that other site struck a nerve.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:13 pm | Comment

Careful Ferins. You are treading on thin ice.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:15 pm | Comment

KT, very few limbless ones in Belgium due to Leo.
@ Mike. You are being flippant. Coopers/Cascade: I’m cutting you off, until you undergo a struggle session.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

I can’t say Mao was fat?

February 8, 2012 @ 12:20 pm | Comment

The successors of the CCP did more than “bow” or offer worthless lipservice, or make pointless gestures.

Hahaha. And you wonder why a simple gesture of apology is just so damn bloody difficult for your extremely competent CCP. LOL. What a shame.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:26 pm | Comment

@CM. You’re probably a new chum in the reasoned argument department. I’ve defended aspects of Chinese culture in the past, notably on ChinaDivide ages ago.

Your ilk, Jing, Wayne etc should keep your Black race denigration off the record. Its unpleasant to say the least. It also tends to negatively impact on anything slightly reasonable you may have to offer the world of internet discussion.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:30 pm | Comment

sp123
Hahaha. And you wonder why a simple gesture of apology is just so damn bloody difficult for your extremely competent CCP. LOL. What a shame.

Its respectable not to kowtow to moaning non-entities such as yourself.

King Tubby
some whining chip on the shoulder talk

You run your mouth, you get what you deserve.

February 8, 2012 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

@CM I know its deeply unpopular in this age of political correctness, but you are providing arguments for those who believe in eugenics.

How about some reasoned argument, rather than schoolyard insult.

February 8, 2012 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

To #62:
of course I don’t blame him for floods and droughts. However, he is certainly responsible for the lack of preparedness for disasters beforehand, and the ineffectual response afterwards. And that’s related to his GLF policies, however well-intentioned they may have been. And again, he gets no such partial absolution for the CR.

Yes, Mao and the CCP put an end to the wars. That is certainly a prerequisite to population growth and improved life expectancy. But that’s not policy. He happened to be in charge when population grew and life expectancy increased, but he did nothing to bring it about. On the other hand, he certainly brought about GLF and CR. Therein lies the difference.

February 8, 2012 @ 1:52 pm | Comment

To KT,
comparing apples and oranges is what they do at that “other site”. Were it not for invalid comparisons and crappy logic, they’d have nothing to say. Someone sent me a snippet from a thread that had something to do with the US constitution. It was quite amusing. We were trying to come up with the name of the logical fallacy in play. In fact, that site should be rebranded as “name the logical fallacy”.

February 8, 2012 @ 1:57 pm | Comment

Its respectable not to kowtow to moaning non-entities such as yourself.

Haha, Cookie has finally spoken: Those demanding apologies for millions of victims of GLF and CR are “moaning non-entities”. Cookie’s utterance is truly that of a hanjian wang ba dan (汉奸王八蛋) as he spit at the faces of those whose lives were brutally cut short by the CCP from 1958-1976.

February 8, 2012 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

“Cookie’s utterance is truly that of a hanjian wang ba dan (汉奸王八蛋)”

A 汉奸is one who sells out his country to a foreign power.

Cookie has not said anything to indicate he has done this or would do this. So he is not a 汉奸.

In fact Hitler caused the deaths of many Germans. He is not a traitor. So did Vlad Tepes kill many of his own people. But as the definition of traitor or 汉奸 stands, he was not the Romanian equivalent of 汉奸.

February 8, 2012 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

A 汉奸is one who sells out his country to a foreign power.

不是汉奸王八蛋也是赤色朝廷的走狗,保皇党的婊子。

February 8, 2012 @ 4:16 pm | Comment

On a side note, this Japanese PM is probably Cookie’s idol because he too thought that “it is respectable not to kowtow to moaning non-entities” LOL.

China strongly protests against Koizumi’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine
http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200608/15/eng20060815_293170.html

February 8, 2012 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

“So yeah, not exactly equivalent to some crusty old figurehead bowing in acknowledgement of just one out of countless many atrocities the British Empire committed.”

Agreed. The British de-industrialised and pauperised both India and China. China was probably the poorest country in the world in 1950, with India only slightly better off. Indeed the famine scholar Cormac O’Grada says that China was always vulnerable to famine given she was so extremely poor, and her poverty exacerbated the effects of poor policy and climate problems during the leap.

Yet in the 1820s China accounted for about 32% of world GDP, India 16%. Europes share was 26.6%.

The excess deaths caused by the Opium Wars, late 19th Century British engineered famines in India, the eight powers intervention in China etc etc has yet to be fully accounted for.

Rudy Rummel, a conservative, anti-communist scholar, estimates 20th Century deaths caused by European colonialism to be 50 million at a minimum. And he does not even count excess deaths resulting from super high mortality rates under colonial rule.

One researcher has estimated 1.5 billion Indians killed under British rule.
http://www.ivarta.com/columns/OL_060610.htm

This researcher uses a very low ‘normal’ mortality rate of 1% per annum to calculate ‘excess’ deaths. So he is probably being unfair to the British.

But then perhaps not. Because that is the rate that Dikotter also uses to calculate GLF ‘excess’ deaths.

So some would argue that by getting rid of China’s colonial overlords and uniting the country, Mao on net balance saved many lives. The problem is however, he could have ‘saved’ tens of millions more but for gross stupidity and arrogance.

February 8, 2012 @ 4:29 pm | Comment

So some would argue that by getting rid of China’s colonial overlords and uniting the country, Mao on net balance saved many lives.

Under this kind of warped and twisted notion, even Qin Shihuang can qualify for saving many lives because by uniting the seven warring states and building the Great Wall against the nomadic tribes, Qin on balance saved many lives too. Hahahahaha.This is just cheap comedy.

February 8, 2012 @ 4:36 pm | Comment

He happened to be in charge when population grew and life expectancy increased, but he did nothing to bring it about.

He does deserve some credit. The barefoot doctors scheme, widely praised even in the West, was his initiative. So were mass movements which did actually save lives, such as the campaign against schistosomiasis. This probably inspired him to get people to kill all the sparrows – which was disastrous.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18453723

February 8, 2012 @ 4:40 pm | Comment

The British de-industrialised and pauperised both India and China..

You mean China and India were “industrialized” in the 1800s? Hahaha, if China was industrialised in the 1800s, it will be the Brits who would be defeated in the Opium Wars lol and the Mughal Emperor would have been the overlord of Queen Victoria. Thanks for your deranged fantasies, Daniel Xu.

February 8, 2012 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

KT, 81
His people, not his property. I was not being flippant, merely making a distinction.

Daniel Xu
You’re making assumptions, like the people you quote. No one can know there’s no parallel universe we can access that showed the events to the contrary to history. Could be the British killed so many Indians, could be that the British saved many – we can’t say one way or the other, all we can say is what happened. Same with Mao – maybe by killing 50 million he saved more, maybe by killing 50 million he didn’t. All we can say is that he killed 50 million.
Excess deaths by the “opium war” could also be accounted for by the effects of the Taiping wars – as I have read this was more a civil war with one set of Chinese fighting another set.
I was also under the impression Mao was fighting the KMT – the Chinese nationalist republicans who overthrew the Manchus who, by then, could hardly be called a colonial power having assimilated into China and become Chinese. By diverting Chiang Kai Shek’s troops who could have been used to fight the Japanese, one could say Mao prolonged the Japanese occupation and all the deaths due to that.

We will never know – all we have are what happened and even the best academics can only also make educated guesses.

Please stick to facts, not conjecture.

February 8, 2012 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

Apologies for spellings too – iPad….

:-)

February 8, 2012 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

Mike Goldthorpe:

Look carefully at this chart. The impact of imperialism on China and India was frankly horrendous.

http://acminc.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/Untitled7.png

If a country is smashed into the depths of poverty by a foreign power, that foreign power has the excess deaths that inevitably arise from this counted against their name — using exactly the same logic that the GLF deaths are attributed to Mao.

I suggest the excellent ‘Late Victorian Holocausts’ by Mike Davis. Mao’s crimes next to those of British imperialism, pale in comparison. And worse still the British colonial holocausts were criminally intended, with no good intentions to speak of, behind them —except of course to enrich the ruling elites of the British empire.

February 8, 2012 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

Mao’s crimes next to those of British imperialism, pale in comparison. And worse still the British colonial holocausts were criminally intended, with no good intentions to speak of, behind them —except of course to enrich the ruling elites of the British empire.

Between British imperialism and Maoist totalitarianism, many Chinese people have voted for the former over the latter with their feet.

“But after the Chinese communist victory in 1949, the policy changed. At that time, a huge flood of refugees poured into Hong Kong. About 1.3 million Chinese entered the territory between 1945 and 1949, doubling the size of the Hong Kong population within a few years. In reaction to the influx, the Hong Kong government closed the border and imposed immigration control on the Chinese in the early 1950s. But this did not stop the inflow of Chinese immigrants. For three decades after 1949, the Hong Kong government enacted the so-called �reach base� policy, that is, if the Chinese illegal immigrants were not caught at the border and managed to reach town, they were permitted to stay.

Then in the late 1970s, when China started its economic reform and open door policies, the influx of Chinese illegal immigrants into Hong Kong reached a crescendo. In 1979, some 89,940 illegal immigrants were arrested upon entry, and a further 102,826 were estimated to have evaded capture. In response to the worsening situation, the Hong Kong government abandoned the �reach base� policy in 1980 and implemented a strict policy of immediate repatriation of all illegal immigrants no matter where they were caught. Subsequently, illegal immigrants caught in employment were further subject to imprisonment before repatriation.”

http://www.unesco.org/most/apmrnwp7.htm

February 8, 2012 @ 5:22 pm | Comment

@Daniel Xu. Mike Davis. The best American historian writing today, no if’s and no but’s.

Thanks for drawing that to my attention. My last visitation was Buda’s Wagon and his previous City of Quartz, which I have linked many times, and which was all about the Aryan dream for California and screw the non-whites.

Good one.Someone who reads a book.

February 8, 2012 @ 5:56 pm | Comment

Apologies. To continue. Not that a good book reference lets Mao off the hook. Obsessed with maintaining power (his favourite bed time reading being dynastic histories – lessons to be learnt about maximum leader maintenance), he never brushed his teeth, fornicated with a significant percentage of procured female peasantry and experienced significant constipation for the entirety of his life. Probably best described as a shit house rat who didn’t give a rats beyond his own personal pleasures and power plays. On top of that, he had a taste for tigers flesh…also true.

February 8, 2012 @ 6:19 pm | Comment

I’m surprised sp has never been banned. Oh wait, no, I’m not.

sp123
You mean China and India were “industrialized” in the 1800s? Hahaha

They were partially industrialized, and moving forward, stupid.

February 9, 2012 @ 12:28 am | Comment

@Cookie
They were partially industrialized, and moving forward, stupid.
As usual, you just have to take your hat off to the way how Cookie ridiculed, insulted and ranted against the stupidity of the Chinese Communist Party. All the following were sources from the CCP and in Cookie’s words, the CCP was just plain stupid to not acknowledge that China was “partially industrialized, and moving forward” in the 1800s. Sit back and enjoy how cookie exposed the supposed imbecility of the CCP for not claiming that “partially industrialized, and moving forward” during the 1800s . Hahahahaha.

From the CCP’s central research office history website

http://www.zgdsw.org.cn/GB/218989/15962007.html

中华民族是一个勤劳勇敢智慧的民族,在漫长的历史发展与演进中,曾以辉煌灿烂的文明遥遥领先于世界其他民族。但到了近代,中国却落伍了。当古老的“中央帝 国”还处在闭关锁国、妄自尊大的状态时,西方国家先后爆发了资产阶级革命,完成了工业革命,推动了社会生产力的迅猛发展,也激发了资产阶级与资本主义的对 外扩张。

  以“天朝上国”自居的清王朝对世界的发展大势懵然不知,对西方先进的科技成果不屑一顾。

English translation

“The Chinese nation is one that is industrious, courageous and wise. In the long history of development and evolution, it was once a glorious civilization far ahead of the other peoples of the world. But in modern times, China was behind the times. When the ancient “Middle Kingdom” was in a state of isolation and arrogance, Western countries had undergone the bourgeois revolution, industrial revolution which not only promoted the rapid development of social productive forces, but also stimulated the external expansion of the bourgeoisie and capitalism.

The Qing dynasty, which prided itself as the “celestial kingdom”, was completely ignorant of the trend of global development and disdainful of the state-of-the-art scientific and technological achievements of the West.”

From人民网 people

http://military.people.com.cn/GB/172467/16892433.html

截至清朝中叶,中国人对于发生于西欧的以工业化、全球化为标志的现代进程基本上是隔膜不知的,

English translation
Up till mid-Qing period, with regards to the modern process of industrialization and globalization that happened in Western Europe, the Chinese people were completely not in the know.

From the Communist Party of China News, 中国共产党新闻网

http://theory.people.com.cn/GB/14675970.html

近代以来,随着西方资本主义文明的兴起,古老的中华文明逐步走向衰落。西方资产阶级的思想解放与中国封建主义的思想禁锢,西方近代科学技术的黎明与中国传统科学技术的黄昏,西方市场经济机制的确立与中国自然经济状态的延续,西方产业革命的高歌猛进与中国农业发展的停滞不前,种种差距使中华民族落在了时代的后面。

English translation
In modern times, with the rise of Western capitalist civilization, the ancient Chinese civilization gradually declined. Western bourgeois emancipation of the mind contrasted with the rigidity of Chinese feudalist thought. The dawn of modern Western science and technology contrasted with the dusk of traditional Chinese science and technology. The consolidation of the Western market economy mechanisms contrasted with China’s natural state of the old economy. The rapid advancement of the Western industrial revolution contrasted with the stagnant of agrarian development of China. All these various gaps led to the Chinese nation’s backwardness.

February 9, 2012 @ 2:31 am | Comment

Daniel, while I don’t for one minute dispute China’s economic position in history, I do dispute the idea that the demise of the lofty position held by China and India can be solely due to a small island off the Atlantic coast. Something was rotten within to allow the rapid collapse of the regime. Britain’s participation (and it was not only Britain – we’re not THAT big!) was merely a catalyst.
I dare say Mao’s crimes next to those committed during the various rebellions in China (I gave teh Taiping one as an example) pale in comparison, just as Hitler’s crimes pale in comaprison to those committed in the Thirty Years War. Regarding India, I have read a piece that described the British take over as more benign than that of the Mughal take over (I can try and find that, if you wish), suggesting that crimes committed by the Mughal would make British ones pale in comparison.
Again, though, what is historically mentioned are merely conjecture – educated, yes, but conjecture. You yourself above have mentioned that the GLF, despite all the deaths, resulted in more people. In India’s case, British involvement resulted in a unified (until 1948, then 1971) country, a thriving democracy and successful industries. In China’s case, one could say that the involvement of European and Asian powers in China’s affairs resulted in the ending of a moribund dynasty and cessation of isolationism that was leading to stagnation. Who knows, maybe the blood letting by Euro-Asian powers also prevented a greater blood letting if the power struggle and regime change occuring in China at the twilight of the Ching dynasty.
We don’t know – we only have one time-line to see. Other scenarios are extrapolations and conjecture, even if tempered by academic qualifications. From where I’m sitting, in 2012, I can see a vibrant India and a vibrant China – given their past histories, I’d conclude the period that they look back on with embarrassment were the catalysts to turn them from their spiral of descent.

February 9, 2012 @ 4:25 am | Comment

http://www.newstatesman.com/200606260025
Perhaps unfortunate I was taught by Larry James in history at school…

February 9, 2012 @ 4:44 am | Comment

“I’d conclude the period that they look back on with embarrassment were the catalysts to turn them from their spiral of descent.”

Mike Goldthorpe. Describing the Taiping rebellion as a ‘crime’ is like describing the English civil war as a ‘crime’. It is an absurd analogy.

History develops in a contingent way. Every historical event has unintended spin-offs, some good, some bad.

Perhaps if the Holocaust had not happened the Jewish people would not have been impelled to unite and fight for and creat the state of Israel. In fact many Jews do say that the Holocaust was a catalyst for this.

So using your logic, Mr Goldthorpe, Israeli Jews should be grateful to Hitler?

“I have read a piece that described the British take over as more benign than that of the Mughal take over”

With mortality rates far worse than the GLF, over a century, the worst famines in human history, I would hardly call that benign.

“just as Hitler’s crimes pale in comaprison to those committed in the Thirty Years War”

This statement lacks moral perspective.

Thanks for the linked article. It is quite a good article. Again, I heartily recommend Mike Davis. King Tubby also likes Mike Davis. So he must be good ;)

February 9, 2012 @ 5:49 am | Comment

By the say sp123.

Think of the definition of 汉奸.

Then look in the mirror.

February 9, 2012 @ 5:52 am | Comment

Mike Goldthorpe
Who knows, maybe the blood letting by Euro-Asian powers also prevented a greater blood letting if the power struggle and regime change occuring in China at the twilight of the Ching dynasty.

Perhaps they were really so kind, and all the former colonized peoples of the world should return the favor with a lesser blood letting of the West.

February 9, 2012 @ 5:56 am | Comment

When did I ever “denigrate” the black man? Is it offensive to state facts, such as that Martin Luther King was a debauched mediocrity? Is he your messiah?

As for eugenics, what is wrong with it? Humanity has spent thousands of years cultivating plants and animals for desired traits, why not ourselves?

February 9, 2012 @ 5:57 am | Comment

To Jing,
I had no plans to liken you to a plant, or an animal. But maybe you’re onto something there. And given that it’s 2012, no need to bother with cultivation. You should start headlong into the process of genetically modifying yourself forthwith.

February 9, 2012 @ 6:12 am | Comment

Dan, I used crime as people use it to describe the GLF and benign as a camparative – I know the Raj wasn’t the cosy picture of G&T and polo matches with happy natives. But, as you say, “Every historical event has unintended spin-offs, some good, some bad.” so yes, I did dispense with morality in my post and just posited a hypothesis.
I shall try and find that Davis book – do like history and, as I said, I was taught by one of the Empire’s apologists.

February 9, 2012 @ 6:26 am | Comment

Oh, and the Hitler remark – Thirty Years War pretty much killed off a good 1/4 to 1/2 of people in the German states. I’ll admit the death was not quite of the industrial variety of the Holocaust, but it was effective nonetheless. And all, seemingly, for the sake of deciding what was the true faith….among other things.

But in the long run, does any of it matter? Crimes against humanity (is the use of “crime” here too mild?) still exist and yet, even as they occur, there are apologists for them, even here in this blog. As you can see, the ways of justifying the most murderous of genocides by the consequences shows why arguments about which was worse and who did what worse are pretty pointless…..in my personal view, anyway.

February 9, 2012 @ 6:39 am | Comment

Wow! Where did Daniel (You’re misinterpreting Cookie & you’re the real hanjian) Xu spring from?

@Jing: When did I ever “denigrate” the black man?”

Did you run into walls a lot when you were a kid, Jing?

February 9, 2012 @ 7:55 am | Comment

“Think of the definition of 漢奸”

那些為極權主義者護駕、狡辯的奴才跟漢奸王八蛋名稱不同,但沒有實質的區別。因為它們都是聽主子去咬人民的狗。哈哈,好像說到一些共匪的心坎去,真是不好意思!呵呵

February 9, 2012 @ 8:46 am | Comment

@Daniel
Perhaps if the Holocaust had not happened the Jewish people would not have been impelled to unite and fight for and creat the state of Israel. In fact many Jews do say that the Holocaust was a catalyst for this.

So using your logic, Mr Goldthorpe, Israeli Jews should be grateful to Hitler?

Hahaha, Daniel has just slapped Chairman Mao’s face because Mao was indeed grateful to the Japanese! LOL. What a hilarious drama.

Mao Zedong’s quotation 2: “I once have talked with the Japanese friends. They said sorry that the Japanese Imperial Army had invaded China. I said, no! If your Imperial Army didn’t invade most half of China, the Chinese people cannot unite to cope with Chiang Kai-shek, and the CCP can not seize the power. Therefore, the Japanese Imperial Army is a good teacher for CCP, also can be said it is great benefactor, the great savior. “– July 10, 1964, Mao’s speech in Beijing in meeting with chairman of the Japan Socialist Party Sasaki and Kuroda Hisao ((Pick from “Long Live Mao Zedong Thought”.533-534 pages)

Mao Zedong’s quotation 3: “The Japanese Imperial Army occupied most half of China in the past, so the Chinese people have accepted the education. If there is no Japanese invasion, we are still in the mountains; you and I cannot watch the Beijing opera here. It is precisely because the Japanese Imperial Army occupied most half of China; let us establish many anti-Japanese base areas for the future victory of the liberation war created the conditions. Japanese monopoly capital and the warlords have done the `good deed’ to us, if there is a need to say thanks, actually I want to thank the Japanese Imperial Army invading China.” — On January 24, 1961, Mao talked with Japanese Socialist party congressmen Kuroda Hisao ands so on. (Pick from “Mao Zedong Diplomacy Literary selections”, edited by the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Central Committee of the CCP Literature Institute, Central Literature Publishing House, in 1994)

February 9, 2012 @ 11:02 am | Comment

Amazing the number of Mao apologists who prefer the ‘failure of administrative machinery’ to explain away the horrors of the famine. The many years Mao’s traumatic and blood soaked history must necessarily be anesthesia that de-sensitised brutality of unimaginable proportions, even when against his people. Such dehumanized psychology is well documented in battle scarred communities, in the darkest chapters of human history.

February 13, 2012 @ 11:08 am | Comment

As a Southeast Asia Chinese, let me say something about it Cold War part 2? Hahahahaha No nfefose of course. That depends on the leaders of both nations, can they co-operate? can they be friendly to each other?What I know so far, is that China don’t do imperialism or station troops outside its border unless invaded. Don’t let the Tibet issue be seen as a problem, Manchuria China already got Tibet as its belongings.You do know that The western alliance forces invaded Beijing during the late Manchurian China, the whole population got worry like hell. Modern China become strong so that such thing will not happen again and intended to become a force to anti such thing; and also to gain respect from others.We Chinese are proud people, unless you trigger us pass our limit, we will not threaten you, that’s our culture.So far, USA made itself the prime rival and target of the world because of pressing its influence upon other nations, directly or indirectly. It became worry to so many others. For example, Osama Bin Laden issue. Since Malaysia is Islamic country, we become a suspect of Osama’s allies, we were joking among ourselves what happen if your bomber airships come, we can go back to stone age.Some set back made you people feel worry, I can understand that, it’s a common human thing. Some professional analyzed that USA’s policies on finance kind of stuff is actually flaw, now the flaw has come to realize.Don’t worry, China got enough problems on its own, no danger will come to realize in our life time. Our children’s era, I don’t know, no one knows.BTW, cosmic rule says no nation will stand tall forever and none will lay down forever. Was this answer helpful?

March 23, 2012 @ 12:17 am | Comment

[...] A History of the Chinese Revolution, 1945-57, Frank Dikotter, a harsh critic of Mao in his earlier book on the Great Leap Forward’s unnecessary famine, demolishes the myth of Mao’s golden years. He maintains instead that was a time of [...]

September 13, 2013 @ 8:57 am | Pingback

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