Amazon reviewer W Y Lu of Hong Kong said, there is absolutely no evidence the atrocities Dikotter mentions were ordered from the top. In fact, quite the opposite – they were often uncovered, even by Dikotter’s own admission, by investigatory teams sent out by the central authorities (Note — and later by members of Mao’s personal bodyguard sent to verify the claims of starvation Mao was hearing from Party members, which he doubted at first.)
Lu says, the fact is, even using Dikotter’s figures (grossly inflated as they are), China’s mortality during the Great Leap Forward (GLF) was in fact slightly lower than that of India’s at the end of British rule – just 9 years earlier.
“The calculation is very simple,” Lu says. ‘Excess’ deaths are calculated by counting all the deaths that happen in one year, and subtracting them from a mortality the researcher assumes would have been the case had the GLF not happened. ”
Dikotter adopts a ‘normal’ crude mortality in China of 10 per 1000 people annually. He then counts deaths above this number as the excess deaths caused by the GLF.
facts about extreme poverty and hunger
Lu then points out that Dikotter also increased (inflated) the mortality numbers by 50% to allow for under-reporting and came up with an average annual mortality of around 27.3 per 1000 during the GLF.
However, Lu then says, “A crude mortality of 27.3 per 1000 in the late 50s & early 60s was in fact quite typical for developing countries. ”
Lu then points out that India and Indonesia’s mortality rates were 23 and 24 per 1000 respectively, and China’s mortality in 1949, just 8 years before the Great Leap Forward was 38 per 1000 (Source: China’s Changing Population by Judith Banister).
In her book, Banister mentions evidence that a famine did take place in China at this time and that the famine reduced fertility rates but says the fertility rate rebounded at least one year earlier than would be expected on the basis of grain production statistics, which can only be explained if supply and distribution of food improved considerably during 1961 as the government imported grain (from Canada and Australia—both allies of the US that broke ranks with the complete American embargo of China) and tried to ensure minimum supplies in famine areas.
Continued on November 15, 2011 in Mao’s ‘alleged’ Guilt in the Land of Famines – Part 5 or return to Part 3
Recommended reading on this topic for those who seek the unblemished truth: From the Monthly Review, Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball
From Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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