China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 2/4

September 1, 2011

The other factors that may have contributed to China’s so-called Great Famine will be listed in order of influence with the most damaging factor listed first and the least damaging last.

The first factors that may have contributed to the famine were droughts, floods and general bad weather.

In 1959 and 1960, the weather was less favorable, and the situation grew considerably worse, with many of China’s provinces experiencing severe famine.

Droughts, floods, and bad weather caught China completely by surprise, and in July 1959, the Yellow River flooded in East China and directly killed,either through starvation from crop failure or drowning, an estimated 2 million people.

In 1960, at least some degree of drought and other bad weather affected 55 percent of cultivated land, while an estimated 60 percent of northern agricultural land received no rain at all. Source: Great Leap Forward – Climate Conditions and famine in China (Wiki)

In fact, droughts and famine are common in China. Between 108 BC and 1911 AD, there were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China or one nearly every year in one or another province.

In the West, most if not all of what we hear about Mao is that he was a brutal monster responsible for the deaths of about 30 million people during the Great Leap Forward as if he pulled the trigger and ordered others to deliberately kill people by the millions as Hitler and Stalin did.

However, the facts do not support this claim.

The first time I heard that droughts and extremely bad weather also played a role in the so-called Great Famine was early July 2011 while I was researching another topic for this Blog and stumbled on that mostly unknown fact by accident.

Then I discovered another more insidious factor when I started working on this post, which may have contributed significantly to the early deaths of millions in China and no one in China was responsible for this one.

This factor was influenced by both American and Chinese paranoia generated by the Korean War (1950 – 1953), America’s involvement in Vietnam (1955 – 1975), McCarthyism‘s Red Scare (1947 – 1957) and the Cold War with Communist Russia (1945 – 1991).

Continued on September 2, 2011 in China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 3 or return to Part 1

View as Single Page

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.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.

Playing Politics for Simple Minds

October 30, 2010

Shikha Dalmia writes for Forbes and says, China Bashing is for Losers. My first thought was, who is this sensible person?

After all, China bashing is a popular sport in America and ranks slightly below basketball, baseball and football. Whenever Americans lose jobs or there is a national election, it is China bashing season— before China it was Japan or some other country or race or religion.

I discovered that Dalmia is a senior policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank. She is also a columnist at Forbes and won the first 2009 Bastiat Prize for Online journalism for her column in Forbes and Reason magazines.

What she says about China bashers is true. Since I started writing iLook China, I’ve discovered that most of my critics know little to nothing about China and base their flawed opinions on stereotypes that should have died with Mao in 1976.

Instead, ignorance rules the day and politicians love that because it leads to votes from people who shouldn’t vote.

However, Shikha Dalmia knows what she is talking about. She points out that protectionism doesn’t work.

Dalmia provides evidence to make her point.

She writes that between 2005 and 2008, the yuan rose 21% but the trade divide, instead of going down, went up by $66 billion because while a strong yuan increases the dollar price for Chinese goods, it also lowers the yuan price of foreign raw materials.

She then uses the iPod as an example. The iPod, Dalmia says, is designed in America and its 451 parts are made in dozens of countries. When all those parts arrive in China to be assembled, that adds only $4 to the price if a $150 item.

This means if the US punishes China by erecting trade barriers, people lose jobs all along the manufacturing line, which starts in the US at Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

Dalmia concludes by stating a truth few know—that Republicans and Democrats are sowing the seeds of their own destruction, which will lead to more suffering when the US economy drops lower. 

I suggest you read Dalmia’s piece at Forbes to understand why global trade is too complex for simple minds to understand.

Learn more about the Chinese Stereotype Alive and Rotten in America


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

If you want to subscribe to iLook China, there is a “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar.