Before I reveal new evidence to cast doubt on the claims of Mao’s critics in the West, two more books blame Mao for the loss of life due to the famine that took place during The Great Leap Forward (GLF).
In Mao’s Great Famine (September 2010), Frank Dikotter claimed, “that as many as 45 million Chinese died from starvation, execution, and maltreatment under forced labor.”
Then, in Eating Bitterness (February 2011), two editors that compiled this book claimed that some “30 million peasants died of starvation and exhaustion during the GLF”.
I find it interesting how two editors claim the loss life was from starvation and exhaustion while another author claimed it was from starvation, execution, maltreatment and forced labor with a difference of 15 million deaths, which is a huge disparity.
In addition, In Henry Kissinger’s On China (pg 184), he says, “The Great Leap Forward’s production goals were exorbitant, and the prospect of dissent or failure so terrifyhing that local cadres took to falsifying their output figures and reporting inflated totals to Beijing.” Then Kissinger says this led to the deaths of over twenty million people from starvation–twenty-five (25) million less than Dikotter’s inflated claim. Other’s have estimated the loss of life closer to 15 million.
Famines throughout the Ages: 19th to 21st Century
It appears, that as the false accusations and the fraud grows, so does the emotional language.
There is a name for books of this sort, and it is “Yellow Journalism” where writers take advantage of popular opinions and without valid evidence spread lies and exaggerations as if they were the truth. I’m sure those authors laugh all the way to the bank too.
Before I continue, I want to mention that in 1949, the average life expectancy in China was 36 and in 1960, it was 36.3 years of age, as you shall eventually see from a reliable source. It has been estimated that it took at least a decade for the Chinese Communist Party to establish a political/governmental infrastructure in all or most of China, which means goals to develop the country and improve health were not in full swing until about 1959.
As for how many starved, theories abound and cover a wide spectrum and all the higher numbers of deaths are easily challenged as two Amazon reviewers of Dikotter’s flawed and biased book demonstrate with impressive facts.
From these two Amazon reviewers, I learned something new I did not consider in my post of China’s Great Famine (1959-1961) Fact of Fiction.
Continued on November 14, 2011 in Mao’s ‘alleged’ Guilt in the Land of Famines – Part 4 or return to Part 2
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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