The following is an interview given by Deng Xiaoping to the Italian Oriana Fallaci on August 21 and 23, 1980. I have included Deng’s original Chinese language version at the bottom. The English translation credit goes to People’s Daily of China. It gives very good insight to Deng.
Oriana Fallaci: Will Chairman Mao’s portrait above Tiananmen Gate be kept there?
Continue reading An Interview with Deng Xiaoping
Recently I had a chance to speak with Boi Boi Huong (mp3, audio play link below). Her family emigrated to Holland from Vietnam when she was young. While in college, she took a stronger interest in China, and in fact completing her thesis on the Great Leap Forward. The timing of her work was interesting, because this had been just couple of years following 1989. Western academia and press at that time were especially hostile to China and China’s political system. The Great Leap Forward has always being used in the Western press and academia to vilify Mao Zedong and his policies, especially with the millions of deaths coinciding that period. Once Huong found out a bit about the circumstances of that period, she was able to quickly figure out the dominant narratives in the West were flawed. (Make sure to also read Ray‘s excellent post, “Another Look at the Great Leap Forward” and Allen‘s robust analysis of the death numbers, “Did Millions Die in the Great Leap Forward: A Quick Note on the Underlying Statistics.”)
As many Hidden Harmonies readers who are of Chinese descent likely could identify, having everything related to ‘China’, be it culture, history, people, ideas, companies, government, or whatever constantly cast in negative light really represses a bit of who we are. We may be citizens of whichever country we live in, but we should be allowed to feel proud about our heritage just like everyone else. To the Chinese, Mao was a symbol of modern China. Under his leadership, ordinary Chinese were finally freed from imperialism, invasions, and centuries of miserable life. Mao is more than the mere mistakes he has committed. Nor is he any of that exaggerated sins pinned against him in the West.
Click on the play button or right-click on the link to save the podcast for local listening: link. Please bear in mind English is not Huong’s primary language.
If you were ask to give a short narrative for those two very important historical figure, what words were to come into your mind?
Abraham Lincoln was consistently voted by US scholars as the greatest US president. He was even immortalized in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. However, don’t the ill informed Americans know he is the greatest mass murderer in US history? During his term of presidency, the US fought the most destructive and bloodiest war ever, WWII caused less destruction than the US Civil War. 3% of US population died in combat, starvation or even mistreatment in prisoner of war camps. Lincoln exercised his authority to suspend habeas corpus, arresting and temporarily detaining thousands of suspected secessionists without trial. Continue reading Comparing Lincoln to Mao
For me personally, the Mainland’s grandparents and great-grandparents are China’s most interesting generation. As soon as I could string a few sentences together I was trying to get our neighbours to tell us about their stories and experiences. But Xinran, the authour of China Witness: Voices from a Silent Generation, being Chinese, can go light-years farther in an interview than I can with my novice Mandarin, mere beginner’s cultural understanding, white face and 大鼻子。
Continue reading (Letter from Joel) Mainlanders and their pasts, Mainlanders and their selves
The vast majority of Chinese favor and support the “opening up and reform” period started in 1978. But many are also very nostalgic for the Mao era, a time when equality was guaranteed, a time when socialism in China was far more than just a hypothetical. One simple example is translated below.
This article has been spread around numerous Chinese forums, actual origin not clear. (原贴)
I was born in 1954, in a village in Shandong province. I have a sister, and our parents are also peasant farmers. I want to start by talking about the prices of agricultural goods, starting with wheat as an example. From 1970 – 1980, the market price for wheat was: 0.35 RMB/shijin (ed: 0.5 kg), later growing to 0.35 RMB/shijing. The cost of things didn’t really change, it was very stable during this period. So the problem I want to discuss is, when a farmer sells a half kilogram of wheat on the market, what can he do with that money?
Continue reading Prices in the Mao era – a peasant's view