Mao Zedong’s Legacy: Part 2 of 2

July 4, 2018

Before I get to Mao’s Cultural Revolution, I want to point out a few of Mao’s achievements. In the “Land of Famines”, China’s last famine was in 1958-62. For the first time in China’s long history, there hasn’t been a famine since 1962, fourteen years to Mao’s death in 1976 and another forty-two years since then.

The Mao era started in October 1949.  Mao said the People’s Republic of China would be free of inequality, poverty and foreign domination. The population of China was 541,670,000. Women were given new rights at work and in marriage, and foot binding was abolished. To deal with disease, Mao launched programs to improve health care that never existed before, and most of the people were inoculated against the most common diseases. When Mao died, the average life expectancy had increased from 35 to 55, and it is now 76.

When Mao died, the population had increased to more than 700,000. Extreme poverty had been reduced by about 14 percent. Since his death, poverty was reduced to where it is today at 6.5 percent of the population.

With a poverty rate of about 95-percent, Mao had promised land reforms to divide the land more equally. In 1950, with Mao’s blessing, rural property owners were judged enemies of the people by the rest of the rural people and hundreds of thousands were executed for their alleged abuses and crimes against the people that denounced them.

Soon after discovering that the famine was real, Mao ended the Great Leap Forward and publicly admitted he had been wrong and stepped aside to let someone else run the country. The large communes were abandoned, and the peasants returned to their villages and were given land again.  At the time, Mao was popular with the people but he still resigned as the head of state.

Then Mao wrote his infamous “Little Red Book” and used it to start the Cultural Revolution.

Zhang Baoqing, an early Red Guard member in Beijing, said, “Chairman Mao started the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) to keep up the momentum for change. We thought if we followed Mao, we could not go wrong.”

Millions, mostly teenagers, willingly followed Mao’s advice.

The Cultural Revolutions stated goal was to preserve ‘true’ Communist ideology in the country by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society and to re-impose Mao Zedong Thought as the dominant ideology within the Party.

Britannica.com says, “Mao pursued his goals through the Red Guards, groups of the country’s urban youths that were created through mass mobilization efforts. They were directed to root out those among the country’s population who weren’t ‘sufficiently revolutionary’ and those suspected of being ‘bourgeois.’ The Red Guards had little oversight, and their actions led to anarchy and terror, as ‘suspect’ individuals—traditionalists, educators, and intellectuals, for example—were persecuted and killed. The Red Guards were soon reined in by officials, although the brutality of the revolution continued. The revolution also saw high-ranking CCP officials falling in and out of favor, such as Deng Xiaoping and Lin Biao.

“The revolution ended in the fall of 1976, after the death of Mao … The revolution left many people dead (estimates range from 500,000 to 2,000,000), displaced millions of people, and completely disrupted the country’s economy.”

Return to or Start with Part 1

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China

Advertisements

Mao Zedong’s Legacy: Part 1 of 2

July 3, 2018

Mao ruled China as its head of state from 1949 – 1959. To understand what Mao faced, it helps to know what life was like in China before 1949.

China had few railroads. Before 1949, there were 6,835 miles in service and most of those rail lines were in the northeast and coastal areas of China.

China did not have a paved highway system, did not have an electric grid linking every village and city. In fact, most of the electricity was only generated in a few cities like Shanghai and Beijing where wealthy foreigners lived. There was no telephone system in rural China and most of the cities where wealthy foreigners didn’t live. The average lifespan was 35. The literacy rate was only 15-to-25 percent, and poverty was worse than it was in 1981 when it was 88 percent. In 1949, when Mao became China’s leader, extreme poverty was closer to 95 percent.

China had just emerged from more than a century of wars: the Taiping Rebellion (about 20 million killed), the two Opium Wars started by England and France, the Boxer Rebellion, the chaos and anarchy after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, the long Civil War between the Chinese Communists and the Nationals (1927 – 1950), World War II (15 – 20 million killed by Japanese troops), the Korean War (180,000 Chinese troops killed), the failure of Mao’s Great Leap Forward that resulted in what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine, and the ravages of his Cultural Revolution.

Britannica.com says, “The disorganization and waste created by the Great Leap, compounded by natural disasters and by the termination of Soviet economic aid, led to widespread famine in which, according to much later official Chinese accounts, millions of people died. …”

“The official Chinese view, defined in June 1981, is that his leadership was basically correct until the summer of 1957, but from then on it was mixed at best and frequently wrong. It cannot be disputed that Mao’s two major innovations of his later years, the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution, were ill-conceived and led to disastrous consequences. His goals of combating bureaucracy, encouraging popular participation, and stressing China’s self-reliance were generally laudable—and the industrialization that began during Mao’s reign did indeed lay a foundation for China’s remarkable economic development since the late 20th century—but the methods he used to pursue them were often violent and self-defeating.”

Before anyone blames Mao’s policies on what’s known as Mao’s Great Famine, 1958-62, you should know about China as the “Land of Famines.”

The Oxford Research Encyclopedias says, “The fall of the Qing and the birth of China’s new Republican government in 1912 did not reduce the number, severity, or impact of famines. Destroying the imperial system of government that had lasted for two millennia proved far easier than building a new system. In the first decades after 1912 the collapse of central political authority, constant fighting between rival warlords, increasing foreign domination, and unprecedented environmental decline undermined efforts to prevent successive natural and manmade disasters from resulting in famines. … Xia Mingfang estimates that more than 15.2 million people died in ten major drought famines that struck during the Republican period (1912–1949), and another 2.5 million Chinese perished in thirty serious floods. Major disasters struck so frequently that many Chinese observers joined Western relief workers in calling China the ‘Land of Famine’.”

Continued with Part 2 on July 4, 2018

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

Where to Buy

Subscribe to my newsletter to hear about new releases and get a free copy of my award-winning, historical fiction short story “A Night at the Well of Purity”.

About iLook China


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 6 of 6

March 22, 2015

It’s no secret that millions of rural people starved to death in China during the famine of 1959 – 1960, but it was a “great” tragedy caused by a complex series of circumstances and blunders—it was not a deliberate mass murder ordered by Mao or the CCP.

In addition, the actual number of deaths was significantly lower than what has been claimed in the West.

The CCP’s lofty goal was to prove to the world that the Party ruled China successfully by boosting crop yields and industrial output.

Another reason the CCP set such unrealistic goals for the five-year plan that contributed to the tragedy that was Great Leap Forward was because of Taiwan, which was recognized by the world as the official government of China and still held its seat in the United Nations.

It wouldn’t be until 1971 that the U.N. recognized the People’s Republic of China instead, and the United States wouldn’t switch diplomatic relations with China from Taipei to Beijing until 1979, finally recognizing the Communist Party as the legitimate ruler of China.

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, and from Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor

In addition, more than one book has examined this topic from a scholarly perspective—instead of inflammatory unsubstantiated and inflated claims—but Mao’s Western critics have mostly ignored this work.

In China: Land of Famine (published in 1926 by the American Geographical Society) by Walter H. Mallory, casts doubt on the inflammatory claims, which have been popularized in the West about the post-1949 Mao era. Mallory offers another perspective for understanding what really might have happened during Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

Then from Stanford University Press, in the Economic Cold War by Shu Guang Zhang (August 2002), “the author argues that while the immediate effects (of the complete American embargo of China) may be meager or nil, the indirect and long-term effects may be considerable; in the case he reexamines, the disastrous Great Leap Forward and Anti-Rightist campaign (The Cultural Revolution) were in part prompted by the sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies.”

My wife then mentioned some memoirs published in Chinese and written by soldiers from Division A-341 of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that guarded Mao when he lived in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

These memoirs of a revealed that when Party members told Mao that rural Chinese in a few provinces were starving due to droughts and low crop yields, Mao didn’t believe what he was told.

To discover the truth, Mao sent people he trusted—troops from PLA Division A-341 who came from rural China—to their villages to investigate the claims of a famine.

When Mao’s trusted bodyguards returned from their home villages to Beijing in late 1960/early 1961 and reported the claims were true, Mao acted swiftly, cancelled the five year plan for the Great Leap Forward two years early and sent the peasants back to their villages from the collectives, and directed the Party to seek help from other countries to feed China’s starving people.

In fact, Roderick MacForquhar wrote in The Origins of the Cultural Revolution that in May 1961, China entered into long-term arrangements with Canada and Australia to insure grain supplies until production in China recovered in addition to imports of American grain laundered through France to avoid the complete American embargo.

Even Henry Kissinger, in his book, On China, wrote,  “The Great Leap Forward’s production goals were exorbitant, and the prospect of dissent or failure so terrifying that local cadres took to falsifying their output figures and reporting inflated totals to Beijing.”

In conclusion, do you remember how many droughts and famines China has suffered from for more than 2,000 years? The answer is in Part 2 of this series: There were no fewer than 1,828 major famines in China or one nearly every year in one or more province. What I find really interesting is that the U.S. government and the traditional private sector U.S. media hasn’t reported this information, and the impressive fact that since 1961, there have been no famines in China for the first time in China’s history. In addition, in the last thirty years, China is responsible for 95% of all poverty reduction in the world.

Return to Part 5 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 5 of 6

March 21, 2015

The droughts, floods and other severe weather arrived soon after the five-year plan to modernize and grow strong enough to resist another war was implemented and set the stage for a tragedy caused by nature and supported by America’s “economic warfare” in the form of a “complete embargo” of China.

Due to quotas set by Mao’s agricultural policies, no one wanted to be seen as a failure and/or unpatriotic and this generated boastful claims about output that were followed by more boastful claims of incredible crop yields.

Nobody—least of all the central government in Beijing—knew the real output figures. There was a sense of general euphoria in Beijing that China was succeeding.

While rural farmers and local party bosses lied about crop yields, Beijing started exporting rice and wheat to other countries as a source of revenue, because Beijing thought there was a bumper crop. The result was that urban areas suffered with reduced rations but with still enough food to survive.

Food shortages were bad throughout the country. However, the provinces, which had adopted Mao’s reforms with the most energy, zeal and with the most fake bragging, such as Anhui, Gansu and Henan, suffered the most.

In fact, Sichuan, one of China’s most populous provinces, known in China as “Heaven’s Granary” because of its fertility, is thought to have suffered the greatest absolute numbers of deaths from starvation due to the energy that provincial leader Li Jinquan undertook Mao’s reforms.

Once the central government in Beijing discovered the truth, the Chinese Communist Party acted quickly to correct the errors in national agricultural decision-making, to conserve food, and to save as many lives as possible implementing drastic measures to feed those in need and to restore agricultural productivity.

Grain exports were stopped, and imports from Canada, France and Australia (in spite of America’s complete embargo) helped to reduce the impact of the food shortages. Library Index.com

The final question is: Would Mao’s Great Leap Forward have been more successful if there had been no drought, no floods and no “complete (U.S.) embargo”, and the provincial party bosses had not lied about crop yields to Beijing?

Continued in Part 6 on March 22, 2015 or return to  Part 4

View as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 4 of 6

March 20, 2015

While people were starving in China, and US officials were waiting for Communist China to collapse, Washington D.C. had no idea how much suffering the Chinese people were capable of, and that even with the drought and famine, most Chinese were still better off than they had been for centuries.

How bad was life in China before 1949? Field-studies in the 1930s revealed that in all parts of China, large numbers of landless laborers lived in tremendous poverty, and their situation had not changed since the sixteenth century.China for all.info

The evidence that the quality of life was improving in China started in 1949. When Mao came to power, life expectancy in China was 35, but by 1960 life expectancy had improved to age 60, while the population of China had increased by 19.5% with child mortality rates improving dramatically.

We might never know how much of an impact America’s economic warfare against China crippled its ability to import food to feed its starving people in a time of drought and famine. In fact, this may have also influenced Mao’s decisions to have the world see China as strong and capable of feeding itself.

The last damaging factors that might have led to millions of deaths due to famine and starvation was the statistical lies of rural farmers and local party bosses reporting crop yields in rural China and Mao’s impossible goals to create a miracle in five years to impress the world.

Mao’s five-year plan for the Great Leap Forward set quotas (goals) to develop agriculture and industry so China would catch up to America and the other Western nations that had invaded China during the 19th century (England, France, Japan, Germany, Russia, America, etc.) starting with the Opium Wars that forced China to allow the foreign powers to sell opium to its people alongside an invasion of Christian missionaries who were allowed to go wherever they wanted to convert the Chinese heathens.

That might be why Mao believed that both agriculture and industry had to grow fast  to make China strong enough to resist another invasion—after all, China was still surrounded by enemies and wars against Communism were being waged in Korea and Vietnam, two countries on China’s doorstep.

Industry could only prosper if the workers were well fed, while the agricultural workers needed industry to produce the modern tools for modernization.

For this to happen, rural China was reformed into a series of giant communes.

Continued in Part 5 on March 21, 2015 or return to Part 3

View as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 3 of 6

March 19, 2015

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, and it was an accident. 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 that may have contributed to the deaths of millions of Chinese, who starved during what is known as the Great Famine.

This insidious factor I’m talking about was influenced by America’s paranoia with Communism caused by the War in Korea (1950 – 1953), McCarthyism (1947 – 1957), Vietnam (1955 – 1975), and the Cold War with the USSR (1945 – 1991) set the stage for what may have contributed to mass deaths by starvation in China during the Great Leap Forward.


The US embargo on China was a “complete embargo” that must have contributed to the death toll of the Great Famine, a factor never mentioned before.

During the McCarthy era (1947 – 1957), thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.

In 1950, because China fought alongside North Korea against allied UN forces under the leadership of the US, the United States implemented a “complete embargo” that forbade all financial transaction with Communist China.

The US also convinced many of its allies to join this “complete embargo” to cut China off from the world.

After the Korean war, the United States did not lift this embargo for the next twenty years (1949-1969), with a goal to disrupt, destabilize, and weaken China’s communist government by causing the people to suffer and this “complete embargo” was one of the tools to achieve this.

Sources in the U.S. government have admitted that the objective of the economic warfare was aimed at causing a breakdown of Communist China. The thinking was that problems in the Chinese economy would lead to loss of support from the people causing the collapse of the Communist Republic. China for all.info and Asia for Educators – Columbia.edu

This embargo was lifted in 1969, when Richard Nixon was President, but by then it was too late—millions of Chinese suffered and died during the Great Famine. Washington Post.com

Continued in Part 4 on March 20, 2015 or return to Part 2

View as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline


China’s Last Great Famine: Part 2 of 6

March 18, 2015

Before I started researching this series of posts, I believed that Mao’s agricultural reform policies were mostly responsible for the famine, and then I learned that drought and severe weather also played a role in the famine.

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.

In 1959 and 1960, the weather was less favorable due to droughts and floods in some provinces, and the situation grew considerably worse, with several of China’s provinces experiencing a 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—through starvation from crop failure or drowning—an estimated 2 million people.

In 1960, at least some degree of drought and more bad weather affected 55 percent of cultivated land in China where only 10 percent of the land area is arable, while an estimated 60 percent of northern agricultural land received no rain at all. Great Leap Forward – Climate Conditions and famine in China (Wiki)

In addition, it helps to know that 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 more province.

Continued in Part 3 on March 19, 2015 or start with Part 1

View as Single Page

_______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the lusty love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Finalist in Fiction & Literature – Historical Fiction
The National “Best Books 2010” Awards

Low-Res_E-book_cover_MSC_July_24_2013

Honorable Mentions in General Fiction
2012 San Francisco Book Festival
2012 New York Book Festival
2012 London Book Festival
2009 Los Angeles Book Festival
2009 Hollywood Book Festival

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline