On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 3/4

December 17, 2011

In 1994, a year before his death, Dr. Li Zhisui published his memoir of Mao, The Private Life of Chairman Mao: The Memoirs of Mao’s Personal Physician.

Li based the book’s contents upon his own memories of Mao several decades after the actual events, as he had burned all of his personal diaries during the Cultural Revolution in case something he wrote about Mao might get him in trouble with the teenage Red Guard.

In 1988, Dr. Li left China for good with Lillian (his wife), who was suffering from kidney trouble, and joined their sons, Chong and Erchong, and daughter-in-law Mei, near Chicago.

His decision to set down his account of Mao’s private life was not easy since he had destroyed the 40 notebooks of his private diary during the Cultural Revolution—almost thirty years earlier.

It wouldn’t be until after Dr. Li’s wife died of kidney failure in 1989, that he would start writing the memoir. “In her last days in the hospital, before she slipped into a coma,” says Li, “she urged me to write this book…”

One of Li’s collaborators involved in editing and revisions of the memoir, the western historian Anne F. Thurston, noted that because of this, Dr. Li’s claims were “fallible” and might “be wrong”.

One of the many critics of Li’s memoir was Qi Benyu, a former member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China that was connected with the left wing of the Cultural Revolution Group and the red-guard power seizures of 1967.

Qi had no reason to love Mao since he was arrested and imprisoned at Mao’s order in 1968 and stayed in prison until 1986—a decade before Li wrote and published his memoir. Before prison, Qi spent several years near Mao and says he never heard any rumors of Mao having extra-marital affairs despite the fact that other senior Party members were known to have done this. Qi also said that most of the Cultural Revolution part of Li’s memoir consisted of information gleaned from newspapers, journals and other people’s writings.

Continued on December 17, 2011 in  On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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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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Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 2/4

June 30, 2011

Another fact that The Economist left out of Boundlessly loyal to the great monster was that Mao was not in charge of The Cultural Revolution. He started the movement to retain power then put his wife in charge. While she was busy dismantling the nation, Mao was hanging out inside the walls of The Forbidden City.

His wife put students in charge of the schools and made teachers victims.

Before that, Mao turned butchers and peasants into doctors without any medical education to guide them in the healing arts. These untrained doctors were known as bare-foot doctors with little to no training, which I wrote about at China’s Health Care During Mao’s Time.

However, as crazy as it may sound, the bare-foot doctors worked.  Life expectancy was about 35 when Mao launched this program and by the time Mao died, life expectancy had increased by twenty years.

The people that Mao liberated from feudalism know that Mao Zedong was also a poet long before he ruled China. The years of Civil War from the early 1920 to 1949, assassination attempts and broken promises by Chiang Kai-shek , and fighting the brutal Japanese during World War II must have changed Mao. For sure, The Long March was a bloody influence that possibly led to a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which tends to make one paranoid.

After all, fighting a Civil War for almost 25 years and living in caves had to have an impact on Mao.  If US soldiers come home with PTSD after one tour of combat, imagine more than two decades living a life of combat.

The Maoists that The Economist mentions mostly want to have the power back but not necessarily the purges and/or denunciations of The Cultural Revolution.

With nostalgia, this minority of Maoists remembers a different time from a different perspective since they may have been the peasant leaders of the adolescent Red Guard.

Many in the West probably do not know that the Red Guard and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were two different forces and the PLA for the most part was not involved in The Cultural Revolution.  In fact, several times the PLA stopped the rampaging Red Guard from some of its destruction of all things old in China.

Continued on July 1, 2011 in Keeping Mao Alive in the West – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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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.

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China’s Capitalist Revolution (Part 5 of 9)

July 3, 2010

Deng had the support of the reformers he had appointed to key positions. A struggle between the hardliners and the reformers begins.  The hardliners are afraid the reforms will threaten communism.

While Deng’s supporters debate the hardliners, Deng visits the nations and leaders of the world.  In the US, while on 60 Minutes, he says, “To get rich is glorious…Wealth in a socialist society belongs to the people. That’s why our policy won’t lead to a situation where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

During the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping was a victim. Mao sent the Red Guard to punish him for capitalist tendencies forcing Deng to work in a tractor factory on the production line. The Red Guard broke his son’s back, and he was permanently paralyzed. This caused Deng to realize that what Mao was doing was wrong.

Eight years into his leadership, Deng begins the next stage of his economic revolution by allowing Chinese entrepreneurs to start businesses. Red Hat capitalism was born. At first, only villagers were allowed to start enterprises. The hardliners were not happy. They wanted to end this, so the new Chinese capitalists were threatened.

Return to China’s Capitalist Revolution Part 4 or go to Part 6

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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.