The Illusion of Freedom – Part 4/4

May 10, 2012

The McCarthy era started in the late 1940s and lasted to the late 1950s.

It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party.

However, for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous. Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. The hunt for ‘sexual perverts’, who were presumed to be subversive by nature, resulted in thousands being harassed and denied employment.


HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 4

In fact, in 1954, a Gallup poll found that 50% of the American public supported McCarthy, while only 29% had an unfavorable opinion of the senator. In addition, Earl Warren, the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, said that if the US Bill of Rights had been put to a vote it probably would have been defeated.

McCarthy bullied, threatened and abused witnesses while he accused them of Communist sympathies. However, in the late 1950s, public opinion turned against McCarthy.  He was forced out of public life and died several years later an alcoholic.

Then there is sedition—another restriction on so-called freedom of speech in the US.

In July 1798, Congress passed and the President signed, the Sedition Act – a bill that made it a crime to speak or write anything against the government. A person charged under the Sedition Act was subject to a maximum of two years in prison and a $2,000 fine. The 1798 Sedition Act would be repealed in 1801. However, after the US entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signed into federal law the Sedition Act of 1918.  The law made it illegal to speak out against the government, the war or to discourage anyone from enlisting in the military.

By the time the law was repealed in 1920, more than 2,000 people had been prosecuted.


HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 5

According to Cornell University Law School, today, federal law says, “Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.”

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Return to  The Illusion of Freedom – Part 3 or start with Part 1

______________

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.

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

Advertisements

The Illusion of Freedom – Part 3/4

May 9, 2012

For another example of restrictions of freedom of speech in the United States, in times of war there may be reasons to restrict US First Amendment rights because of conflicts with national security.

We also do not have a constitutional right to tell lies that damage or defame the reputation of a person or organization and obscene materials do not enjoy First Amendment protection.

In addition, distribution of information should not impede the flow of traffic or create excessive noise levels at certain times and in certain places, and the Supreme Court expressed that public school administrators ought to have the discretion to punish student speech that violates school rules and has the tendency to interfere with legitimate educational and disciplinary objectives.

In Hazelwood, the Court relied heavily on Bethel to uphold the right of school administrators to censor materials in a student-edited school paper that concerned sensitive subjects such as student pregnancy, or that could be considered an invasion of privacy…

Public schools can limit speech based on a reasonable expectation that it will cause a material and substantial disruption of school activities or invade the rights of others and prohibit obscene or vulgar language.

Schools can also limit speech if it’s in the form of a threat. Not just any expression is a threat, though. Threats must be perceived as a threat by others; be clear and convincing, causing others to believe it will be carried out and cause other students to fear for their safety.

 
HBO Documentary of Freedom of Speech in five parts – Part 3

How about the private sector workplace?

The Chicago Tribune reported that freedom of speech at work is not protected by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution, and reported, “You may be shocked to learn that a constitutionally protected freedom of speech for government workers doesn’t extend into the private-sector workplace.

“‘A private-sector employer has a lot of latitude as to what’s permitted or not with respect to political speech, or pushing any view for that matter,’ advises Brian Finucane, an attorney at Fisher & Phillips in Kansas City.”

Federal free speech protections apply only to the government. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, for example, does not regulate private employers. However, it does come into play with respect to government employers.

Employers also may demand loyalty at the workplace. For example, an employee cannot avoid discipline in the name of free speech by being rude to customers, or by denigrating the employer’s business to customers while working.

Although the First Amendment is supposed to protect the right to speak freely without government interference and that people have the right to publish their own newspapers, newsletters, magazines, etc., one of the most glaring violations of this so-called right was called McCarthyism.

What do you consider freedom and does it really exist?

Continued on May 10, 2012 in The Illusion of Freedom – Part 4 or return to The Illusion of Freedom – Part 2

______________

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.

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


The Politics of Fear – Part 2/5

September 15, 2011

In America, there is a “BIG” dollar sign driving the “Politics of Fear”, and this dollar sign has generated much hate and distrust of China (and a few other countries) in the United States.

There are BIG lies and little lies that drive the “Politics of Fear” and some are subtle.

McCarthyism is an example of a BIG lie and another “BIG” lie by President Johnson (LBJ) led to the Vietnam War (at a time when most neo-conservatives still belonged to the Democratic Party).

Most of the lies that drive the “Politics of Fear” are not planned, and it is not a plot (a political/religious ideology drives the Politics of Fear).

Instead, the architects of these lies take advantage of events as they happen and mold the public’s opinion mostly with the little lies waiting for the “BIG” moment that leads to wars such as the one in Iraq.

Creating fear and loathing of China to justify “HUGE” military expenditures in the US also may explain the criticism of a recent rail accident, which I wrote of in High Speed Rail Tragedy in China Reveals Small Minds in the West (an example of a little lie).

To create an atmosphere of fear, first there must be distrust and loathing, which is the job of the little lies. That way it is easier for the American public to accept the BIG lies when they arrive.

In addition, we learn from Information Clearing House.info that President Harry Truman (33rd President of the United States – 1945–1953) set out, as Arthur Vandenberg advised, to “Scare the Hell out of the American people.”

However, fear to manipulate public opinion did not start with China. The US government first generated fear to manipulate the citizens of the US and Europe through the CIA‘s Operation Mockingbird (1948) soon after the end of World War II at the start of the Cold War with Soviet Russia.

Eventually, in the late 1970s, many neoconservatives moved from the Democratic Party to Ronald Reagan, the Republican hawk that promised to confront Soviet expansionism. Source: Rejecting the Democratic Party

But, soon after launching Operation Mockingbird, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) enacted the Fairness Doctrine, which was a deterrent to control of the media and success of operations such as the CIA’s Mockingbird.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the FCC (introduced in 1949) that required the holders of broadcast licenses (radio and TV) to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced, which wasn’t the goal of the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird or President Reagan‘s neo-conservatives.

To rid America of honest, equitable and balanced media reporting, in 1987, President Reagan defeated the Fairness Doctrine when he vetoed legislation intended to make it a federal law, and there were not enough votes to override his veto.

The House of Representatives had voted earlier that month with 302 votes in favor while 102 voted no. However, in the Senate, the vote was 59 to 31, less than the two-thirds necessary to override a presidential veto and President Reagan did away with the only protection the public had to hear both sides of every controversial issue, which was the end of any assurance that the news would be honest, equitable and balanced.

Consortium News.com says, “A rule of thumb in journalism is that there are almost always two sides to a story, but that rule is often ignored by the U.S. news media in the heat of some conflict when the United States is involved. Then, the real motivations of the U.S. adversary are widely ignored in favor of demonization.”

However, if the Fairness Doctrine were a law, demonizing countries (such as China) in the media would be a challenge, because the public would hear both sides of every issue making fear difficult to generate.


After the Fairness Doctrine was vetoed by President Reagan, conservative talk radio boomed.

A Media Use and Evaluation by Gallup.com of the trust and confidence the American public had of the mass media says that in 1976, 72% of the people had a great deal/fair amount of trust in the mass media, such as newspapers, TV, and radio.

By 2009, however, 57% of the people did not trust what they heard or read in the media due to smear campaigns against the media that it was controlled by ‘godless’ liberals (notice the use of language to cause fear and loathing).

In addition, the Pew Research Center said that in 1985, 55% (already down 17% from 1976) of the people felt news organizations had the facts straight, but by 2009 that trust had dropped to 29% and 63% felt the news was often inaccurate, which represents a great victory for the Politics of Fear.

How can a democracy function when the citizens are not honestly informed of both sides of an issue?

Since 1976, the public trust factor of the media has declined almost 30%, which may be because Internet Forums and Blogs, radio talk shows and TV programs may claim anything without proof and without worry, because in the United States today, freedom of expression also means freedom to lie and manipulate.

Who has benefited the most from the absence of a Fairness Doctrine in the United States designed to insure balance and honesty in the media?

Continued September 16, 2011 in The Politics of Fear – Part 3 or return to Part 1

______________

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, click on it then follow directions.


China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 3/4

September 2, 2011

The War in Korea (1950 – 1953), Vietnam (1955 – 1975), McCarthyism (1947 – 1957) 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.

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, since 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.


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

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

This embargo was lifted in 1969, when Richard Nixon was President. Source: Washington Post.com

However, 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 enduring and that even with the drought and famine, most Chinese were better off than they had been in centuries.

The evidence that the quality of life was improving was the fact that in 1949 when Mao came to power, life expectancy in China was 35, and by 1960 life expectancy had improved to age 60 or almost double what it had been in 1949, while the population of China increased by 19.5% with child mortality rates improving dramatically.

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. Source: China for all.info

If you want more evidence, I refer you to Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth”.

We may 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 since he wanted the world to see China as strong and capable of feeding itself.

If anyone pulled a trigger on China’s people, it was not Mao. It was Washington D.C. fueled by fear of everything Communist caused by the Korean War, Vietnam, McCarthyism’s Red Scare and the Cold War with Communist Russia.

Continued on September 3, 2011 in China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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.


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.


The Roots of Madness (viewed as single page)

January 28, 2010

I found this information from a 1967 documentary conceived and written by Theodore H. White to have half-truths about Imperial China. It is understandable that any American film from that era would be flawed since McCarthyism’s Red Scare took place in the US the decade before. Even today, Sinophobia infects almost half of America.

Author Theodore White lived in China for seven years and said that foreigners who lived in China during the crises often remembered it differently as if his opinions were correct and they were wrong.

The Roots of Madness unwittingly documents the lies and deceit that demonized the Empress Tsu Hsi when the narrator calls the empress evil. To discover the truth about the empress, I suggest reading Dragon Lady by Sterling Seagrave, who revealed the lies and deceit of Western journalists.

Nothing in China’s ancient culture could guide the Chinese to become part of the modern world.

Instead, China would experiment with different forms of government—a process that is still going on.

Although “China: The Roots of Madness” is a flawed production, there is enough accurate history to show why China is the way it is today.

British and American power controlled the wheels of industry in Shanghai, Nanking, Hankow and Chunking. In the steaming south, peasants, working like beasts, plant rice and speak languages most Chinese do not understand.

At the turn of the century, a three-year-old child was the emperor and the throne sat empty. On October 10, 1911, a riot took place that couldn’t be controlled.

Five weeks later, the Imperial government collapsed. The Qing Dynasty vanished and two-thousand years of Imperial tradition was gone.

The Chinese call this time the “Double Death”.

The British and Americans could not control what replaced the Qing Dynasty.

Students without weapons rioted in the streets.

Warlords that controlled armies divided China and the chaos and anarchy grew worse.

Life became so cheap, that death was like a bloody circus.

However, while the Chinese people suffered and starved, the foreigners live in luxury and controlled China’s industry while being protected by the Western military.

Chinese students demanded a revolt and Sun Yat-sen called on China to slay the dragon of Imperialism. He said China must start with nationalism, then democracy and finally socialism. The only country that offered to help was Soviet Russia.

Death claims Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925) after he has accepted support from Soviet Russia. Soon, General Chiang Kai-shek (1887 – 1975), with help from the Communists, consolidates power in southern China.

Chiang is known to Westerners as a fiery nationalist and revolutionary. He mobilizes an army under Sun Yat-sen’s flag and marches north with a few divisions.

Meanwhile, the warlords have gathered half-a-million troops to stop him. Outnumbered, Chiang sends an advance group of nationalists and communists to call the peasants and workers to join his army.

Among those peasants and workers is Mao Tsetung (1893 – 1976).

While moving north, Chiang’s army raids foreign concessions, burns foreign buildings and tears down foreign flags.

Leftist leaders of the Kuomintang distrust Chiang Kai-shek and some want to assassinate him but others disagree.

In Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek, now a dictator, strikes first on April 12, 1927. His troops kill anyone suspected of being a Communist.

In December, there is a Communist uprising in Canton. A battle rages for two days between the Communists and Kuomintang ending in the executions of most Communists, but Mao escapes and goes into hiding.

Chiang Kai-shek’s army is not ready when Japan invades Manchuria. He doesn’t have tanks, the artillery is old and the Chinese are learning about airplanes.

Meanwhile, the Communists that Chiang thought he had destroyed are back. Mao knew the peasants lived in horrible poverty. He promised land reforms and by 1932 has millions of supporters.

The language in this documentary describing Mao is not flattering.

Yes, when Mao ruled China, he was a dictator but that ended in 1976 when he died. Since then, China has had several presidents that the 1982 Chinese Constitution allows to lead China for two five-year terms and there is an impeachment clause.

However, Chiang Kai-shek was also a dictator. The only difference between Mao and Chiang is that Chiang converted to Christianity in 1929, and the West called him the president of China—not a dictator.  Chiang Kai-shek was never elected by the people of a democracy to rule China or Taiwan.

Instead, he ruled Taiwan under martial law until he died then his son became president without a popular vote by the people.

Instead of fighting Japan, Chiang’s army bombs villages that Mao controls killing tens of thousands of noncombatants. Mao takes his ninety thousand troops on the famous thousand-mile Long March.

A year later, only a few thousand remain. Mao calls for unity to fight Japan.

One of Chiang’s generals, Zhang Xueliang, forces the Nationalist dictator to sit down with the Communists where Chiang Kai-shek agrees to fight Japan. As soon as Chiang returns to his capital, he breaks the agreement and throws Zhang in prison.

Meanwhile, Mao’s troops in the hills of Yunnan grow their own food. His army, dressed in shabby clothing wearing straw sandals, doesn’t look like a fighting force. Mao says the people are the sea and guerrillas are like fish that swim in the sea. Within a year, Mao’s army grows to 200,000.

Chiang Kai-shek’s army loses battles and cities to the Japanese. To continue fighting, his government and army moves to the deep mountain city of Chongqing in Sichuan province.

In 1939, the Japanese start bombing Chongqing 24/7.

When asked about the Japanese threat, Chiang says that the Japanese are a disease of the skin, but the Communists are a disease of the heart.

Then on December 7, 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor and America enters the war.

War supplies start to trickle to China through India and across the Himalayas to Chiang Kai-shek’s four-million-man army.

However, his government is corrupt, his troops are poorly fed and morale is low. In fact, the  peasants do not trust Chiang’s
troops or him.

Chiang Kai-shek is accepted as an equal among the West’s leaders while Mao works to keep up the moral of his Communist troops through political training—something Western leaders don’t understand and criticize.

Theodore H. White tells of an incident with Chiang Kai-shek’s troops when a Nationalist officer lies to peasants saying he belongs to Mao’s Communist army. When White asks why lie, he is told the peasants would not help if they knew the truth.

In fact, regardless of the suffering from Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, this loyalty never wavers.

Joseph Stilwell, the commanding US general in China, is not happy with Chiang since he is not fighting Japan.

Chiang says he needs his troops to fight the Communists.

In 1945, America invites representatives from Chiang’s government to take part in Japan’s surrender on the battleship Missouri but ignores the Communists under Mao.

An American ambassador urges Mao to join Chiang in a unified government. To bring this about, America offers Mao protection and there are face-to-face negotiations between Mao and Chiang.

During the negotiations, in secret, Chiang moves his troops to launch an assault on the Communists in Manchuria.

America urges Chiang to win the people by implementing Sun Yat-sen’s promised reforms.

Instead, Chiang’s war to destroy the Communists causes run-away inflation. Essential goods become too expensive. The people want peace, and Mao offers the peasants what they want—land.

In 1948, Mao attacks when his army leaves the caves and captures Manchuria

When Chiang Kai-shek’s northern army surrenders, modern American weapons and equipment falls to Mao’s troops.

Mao demands total surrender, but Chiang’s army boards ships for Taiwan taking China’s wealth and historical treasures.

In fear, western businessmen and missionaries flee China.

By 1967, when this documentary was produced, Mao had ruled China for 18 years and was still an inigma to most in the West. Nixon wouldn’t visit China for several more years.

Protected by America’s military and navy, Chiang was still in Taiwan serving as president for life (a dictator). He also had six-hundred thousand Kuomintang troops armed by the US, and the island people lived under martial law.

Theodore H. White says America does not understand Communist China. America could not predict the “Great Leap Forward” or the purges that followed.

White says the quality of life for the peasants had not improved (which is not true since the World Bank has reported that even under Mao the quality of life improved over what it had been), but they still had to work hard.

White’s documentary ends with words of fear for the world’s future because China has nuclear weapons.

There is no mention that America has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the earth a hundred times over and used two of them on Japan killing hundreds of thousands.

This revised post first appeared as an eight-part series starting June 8, 2010 at Roots of Madness – Part 1

______________

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.

To subscribe to iLook China, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


China’s Great Famine (1959 – 1961) – Viewed as Single Page

January 28, 2010

In America and the rest of the West, most people believe that Mao was a monster worse that Adolf Hitler or Stalin and is responsible for killing at least 30 to 60 million people during what is known as China’s Great Famine.

In fact, many Chinese also believe that millions died of starvation during The Great Famine (1958 – 1961) due to Mao’s demanding agricultural production goals during China’s Great Leap Forward.

Until recently, I also believed this without doubt since that is all I have ever heard.

The details that may have caused this famine are not common knowledge and it appears that no attempt by the Western media has been made to reveal them.

However, after discovering what happened in China and the world during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, what was once a certainty (at least to me) is now a mystery and possibly another hoax equal to the hoax that Tibet was never part of China before 1950 and there was a massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which Wiki Leaks recently proved wrong.


No mention of drought, floods and severe weather that cut crop yields, and the number of deaths quoted in the video cannot be supported with evidence. In addition, evidence that does exist supports far fewer deaths.

Why Mao may have become scapegoat or victim of a hoax is worth examining.

The reason I say this is because in 1949 when Mao came to power, life expectancy in China was about 35, and then in 1960 life expectancy improved to about 60 or almost double what it had been in 1949, while the population of China increased by 19.5% with child mortality rates improving dramatically.

If Mao’s policies were responsible for these improvements in life expectancy and population growth, how could he also be the monster responsible for causing a famine that may have killed millions?

If a famine did occur, my research revealed that other factors may have contributed to the deaths and all but one of those factors did not deliberately cause people to die of starvation.

After learning of these other factors and completing the puzzle, it is obvious (at least to me) that Mao and the Communist Party did not order the deaths of 15 to 70 million people (the numbers quoted in the West vary widely because different people have made different claims without valid evidence to support those claims. There is evidence that supports the lower number.).

Before I started researching this post, 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.

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).

The War in Korea (1950 – 1953), Vietnam (1955 – 1975), McCarthyism (1947 – 1957) 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.

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, since 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.


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

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

This embargo was lifted in 1969, when Richard Nixon was President. Source: Washington Post.com

However, 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 enduring and that even with the drought and famine, most Chinese were better off than they had been in centuries.

The evidence that the quality of life was improving was the fact that in 1949 when Mao came to power, life expectancy in China was 35, and by 1960 life expectancy had improved to age 60 or almost double what it had been in 1949, while the population of China increased by 19.5% with child mortality rates improving dramatically.

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. Source: China for all.info

If you want more evidence, I refer you to Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth”.

We may 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 since he wanted the world to see China as strong and capable of feeding itself.

If anyone pulled a trigger on China’s people, it was not Mao. It was Washington D.C. fueled by fear of everything Communist caused by the Korean War, Vietnam, McCarthyism’s Red Scare and the Cold War with Communist Russia.

The last damaging factors that may 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.

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.)

Mao believed that both agriculture and industry had to grow to allow the other to thrive.

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

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

However, the droughts, floods and other severe weather arrived soon after this five-year plan was implemented and set the stage for a tragedy caused by nature and supported by American “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 so 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 and nobody was trying to find out. Instead, there was a sense of general euphoria in Beijing that China was succeeding.

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

However, the situation was different in the areas that lied the most and resulted in mass starvations largely confined to rural China, where, because of drastically inflated production statistics, very little grain was left for the peasants to eat.

Food shortages were bad throughout the country. However, the provinces, which had adopted Mao’s reforms with the most energy, zeal and the highest boasts, such as Anhui, Gansu and Henan, tended to suffer disproportionately.

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 vigor with which 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 and Australia (in spite of America’s complete embargo) helped to reduce the impact of the food shortages. Source: 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 people had not lied about crop yields?

It is 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 was not murder.

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

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 right of the screen.

Note: This post first appeared as a four-part series on August 31, 2011 as China’s Great Famine – Part 1