Sat, Jul 02, 2005 - Page 9 News List

Mao, the false god

An estimated 70 million or more people have died since the 1940s in the "New China" the CCP is so proud of, and blame can be laid directly at Mao Zedong's feet. So why is he still venerated?

By Shaw Sin-ming

ILLUSTRATION: YUSHA

Should Mao Zedong's (毛澤東) huge portrait still hang above the front gate of Tiananmen Square? Should China's ruling party still call itself communist?

These are not idle questions. Unless and until China's leaders answer both questions with a simple "No" they will continue to have blood on their hands and a tainted legitimacy. Many Chinese do not accept communist rule precisely because the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) denies its past, and remains unapologetic about its cruelty.

This is one reason why China has a Taiwan "problem." The Chinese Communists insist that being Chinese means accepting the political reality of a sole communist sovereign. Indeed, many Taiwanese think that, if being Chinese means accepting all that goes under the name of Mao and the CCP, they will gladly deny their "Chineseness" than assume some of that shame.

Similarly, while a recent poll found that 70 percent of Hong Kong's people are proud of being ethnic Chinese, a similar percentage are ashamed of the conduct of the mainland government. Their message to the government in Beijing is this: you cannot take away our ethnicity but you have soiled our dignity through your barbarism. For Hong Kong, the defining symbol of the communist government is the killing of students with abandon on June 4, 1989.

Enshrined in the CCP's Constitution are the following words: Mao Zedong, the party's chief representative, created Mao Zedong Thought, which has been proven correct by practice and based on what the Communist Party developed as the basic system of socialism economically, politically and culturally after the founding of the People's Republic.

But how "correct" was Mao?

In her devastating new book Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang (張戎), author of the international bestseller Wild Swans, exposes startling new details that prove beyond doubt that Mao was a tyrannical, cruel hypocrite whose disregard for human lives and suffering surpassed that of even Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Her catalogue of Mao's "correct practice" is numbing in its immorality and bloodthirstiness.

To help finance his communist movement in the 1930s, Mao squeezed poor peasant families with any assets in the "Red" zone he controlled. Many counter-revolutionary families were forced out of their homes to live in buffalo sheds so that their meager assets could be requisitioned. While hiding out in the caves of Yenan, Mao became a distributor of opium. Contrary to myths that he and his insurgents lived frugally during the Yenan days, they lived well on trading profits.

After the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government collapsed in 1949, Mao's "New China" emerged. Almost immediately, he launched another campaign that was intended to suppress "counter-revolutionaries," berating one province for "being too lenient, not killing enough.

Killing "enemies" was not the sole purpose. Mao wanted to instill obedience by having as many people as possible witness the terror. As he put it in 1951, "many places don't dare to kill counter-revolutionaries on a grand scale with big publicity. This situation must be changed.

In Beijing millions of inhabitants were ordered to witness some 30,000 sentencing and execution rallies during the early 1950s. Indeed, in 1950 and 1951 an estimated 3 million people perished by execution, torture, or suicide. Masses of Chinese were sent to work camps, where prisoners endured harsh physical labor to "reform" their "bourgeois" habits and thoughts. In any given year, roughly 10 million such "laborers" existed. During Mao's rule, an estimated 27 million died in the camps.

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