Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

How China Deals with Bad News

Posted by w_thames_the_d on February 22, 2011

Here is an excerpt from “The Party” (Richard Mcgregor) where he describes the massive cover up or lack of information regarding China’s great leap forward in the late 50’s and all the deaths that ensued.

‘There was no war. No disease. The weather was quite normal. But 35 to 40 million people just disappeared. Incredible!’ Yang said. ‘This is a rare thing in history, but the authorities have somehow covered up such an important event, so that not many people know about this piece of history. People have passed the story down, but young people these days find it hard to believe.’ The central government had sent investigative teams to some localities during and after the famine to study the disaster, but to this day Beijing has not produced an official public report of the tragedy and its death toll. ‘We already knew that a large number of people had starved to death because we had read internal reports from local officials about it,’ said Wang Weizhi, a demographer who accumulated his own store of evidence about the mass loss of life. ‘But there was no major investigation by the centre.’ Even to ask the question itself was political dynamite, because of where the answer would lead–to Mao and his fellow leaders, and their direct responsibility for the deaths of tens of millions of their citizens.

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