Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

History of Cannibalism in China

Posted by w_thames_the_d on August 19, 2014

I wondered why my last dish of Kung Pao chicken tasted gamey. Check this out on the history of cannibalism in China and then don’t forget to greet your new made-in-China neighbor with all the respect he or she deserves….


Descriptions of cannibalism appear repeatedly in Chinese history, in numerous historical writings and literature, and most recently during the Cultural Revolution in the testimony of Cheng I, the Chinese film producer and writer who fled to Hong Kong in the spring of 1992 and sought asylum in the United States in 1993.

In his book Shokujin Enseki – Massatsu sareta Chugoku Gendaishi (Cannibal Banquet – Modern Chinese History Erased) (Tokyo: Kodansha Kappa Books, 1993), Cheng I describes in detail how, as a young Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution in south China, he witnessed hundreds of children, women and men classified as Counter-revolutionaries killed and eaten by the perpetrators, with such comments as “human meat tastes better when broiled than boiled.”

In the recently published collection of studies Chugoku Igaishi,historian Okada Hidehiro quotes passages from the classic Ming dynasty (1368-1644) novel Water Margin, also known as All Men Are Created Equal, describing a group of villains who sell human meat as beef, as well as other characters who eat human flesh.

According to Okada, King Chu of the Ying dynasty (11th century BC) is alleged to have made salted meat and dried meat out of two feudal lords, as well as soup out of son of King Wen of Zhou, which he made King Wen eat.


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