Xi Suppresses Mao’s Starvation of Tens of Millions of Rural Chinese

(p. A9) Mr. Xi’s recasting of China’s history has left less and less room to reflect on traumas like the tens of millions who starved to death across the country from 1958 to 1960. That worries scholars who believe that the calamities of that time still offer lessons for China.

Harvests fell drastically short of the miraculous yields that officials had promised in the Great Leap Forward, a feverish campaign to propel China into communist plenty. As hulking collectivized farms failed, the government seized grain from peasants who were accused of hiding supplies. Starvation spread. So did persecution of peasants accused of resisting grain seizures.

Xinyang suffered worse than nearly any place in China. Out of eight million residents, about one million died of undernourishment and other abuses, according to secret official reports at the time.

In Gaodadian Village in Xinyang, two mounted stones stand etched with the names of 72 people who starved to death in this settlement of around 120 residents. The memorial, half hidden among bushes, is the only one around here, or perhaps anywhere in China, for victims of the Great Leap famine.

. . .

Mr. Wu’s son, Wu Ye, 51, helped his father build the famine memorial in their home village. He said he grasped the enormity of the suffering only after he moved to the United States and read a Chinese-language book about that era, “Man-Made Catastrophe,” published in Hong Kong in 1991.

“On the internet there’s all those people who say that it’s nonsense, that so many people couldn’t possibly have died,” the younger Mr. Wu said in a telephone interview from Buffalo. “I wanted to somehow prove that this happened.”

For the full story, see:

Chris Buckley. “Xi Lauds ‘Red’ Heritage in Land Brutalized by It.” The New York Times (Tuesday, October 1, 2019): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 30, 2019, and has the title “‘Xi Extols China’s ‘Red’ Heritage in a Land Haunted by Famine Under Mao.”)

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