Mao Zedong, the founder of communist China, was responsible for the murder of tens of millions of his fellow Chinese. But not surprisingly, when the Chinese regime remembered the 120th anniversary of his birth on December 26, it was to celebrate, not condemn, his role in history.
Addressing a symposium held by the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping described Mao as “a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny,” and as a “great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist.”
However, Xi also stressed the need to have a “correct” historical view to evaluate a historical figure and even went so far as to acknowledge that Mao had made “mistakes" during his rule. While giving Mao credit for having led the revolution that brought communism to China, Xi also urged that Mao, whose image in China has been magnified into a larger-than-life persona, be viewed in more down-to-earth fashion:
Revolutionary leaders are not gods, but human beings. [We] cannot worship them like gods or refuse to allow people to point out and correct their errors just because they are great; neither can we totally repudiate them and erase their historical feats just because they made mistakes.
Xi and six other high-ranking Chinese leaders visited Mao's mausoleum, where they bowed three times to his statue and “jointly recalled Comrade Mao's glorious achievements,” according to a Xinhua release.
AFP quoted a statement made by Jiang Qi, identified as a 33-year-old construction company employee (and therefore, born after Mao died in 1976), that revealed the effectiveness of the Chinese propaganda machine in burnishing Mao’s image over the years: “Mao was a great leader of the Chinese nation; he was a perfect person and for us young people he is someone to learn from.”
AFP reporter Tom Hancock noted that “Mao's sometimes autocratic rule remains a divisive topic in China” (emphasis added) but did not stipulate when Mao’s rule was not autocratic.
Hancock does acknowledge, however, that “Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ is estimated by Western historians to have led to as many as 45 million deaths from famine, and his Cultural Revolution plunged China into a decade of violent chaos.”
Hancock’s figure of “as many as 45 million deaths” may actually be conservative. Author and professor emeritus of political science Rudy (R.J.) Rummel (Death by Government, etc.) posted a report entitled “Getting My Reestimate of Mao’s Democide Out” in his Democratic Peace Blog on November 30, 2005, in which he provided statistics indicating that Mao’s record was even worse than he had previously reported.
For some time, Rummel had estimated the total deaths attributed to Mao’s democide (the killing of a population by government) at 38,702,000. “However,” he writes, “some other scholars and researchers had put the PRC total as from 60,000,000 to a high 70,000,000. Asked why my total is so low by comparison, I’ve responded that I did not include ... China’s Great Famine [of] 1958-1961.” Rummel then explained why he previously thought Mao's policies were not responsible for the deaths resulting from the famine, why he did not view those deaths as “democide” — and why he changed his mind after reading Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday:
From the biography of Mao, which I trust (for those who might question it, look at the hundreds of interviews Chang and Halliday conducted with communist cadre and former high officials, and the extensive bibliography) I can now say that yes, Mao’s policies caused the famine. He knew about it from the beginning. He didn’t care! Literally. And he tried to take more food from the people to pay for his lust for international power, but was overruled by a meeting of 7,000 top Communist Party members.
So, the famine was intentional. What was its human cost? I had estimated that 27,000,000 Chinese starved to death or died from associated diseases. Others estimated the toll to be as high as 40,000,000. Chang and Halliday put it at 38,000,000, and given their sources, I will accept that.
Now, I have to change all the world democide totals that populate my websites, blogs, and publications. The total for the communist democide before and after Mao took over the mainland is thus 3,446,000 + 35,226,000 + 38,000,000 = 76,692,000, or to round off, 77,000,000 murdered. This is now in line with the 65 million toll estimated for China in The Black Book of Communism, and Chang and Halliday’s estimate of “well over 70 million.”
This exceeds the 61,911,000 murdered by the Soviet Union 1917-1987, with Hitler far behind at 20,946,000 wiped out [from] 1933-1945.
The above account, and others like it, including the cited The Black Book of Communism, reveal President Xi’s statement that Chairman Mao made some “mistakes” during his rule for what it is: typical Communist Party propaganda.
Mao’s bloody record is made all the more horrific, however, when it is considered that he came to power though the connivance of the U.S. government, which betrayed Mao’s anti-communist adversary near the conclusion of the Chinese Civil War. That war was fought between forces loyal to the government of the Republic of China led by Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) and Mao’s Communist Party of China (CPC) forces.
The first phase of the war was waged from 1927-1937, when the two sides ceased fighting each other to resist the Japanese invaders. The year after the Japanese were defeated in World War II, in 1946, fighting between Mao’s Communists and Chiang’s nationalists resumed. The Communist side had a definite advantage when it came to arms procurement, however. Soviet forces — which had been awarded Manchuria as a spoil of war for their very brief contribution to the war against Japan — turned over their enormous stockpile of weapons abandoned by the Japanese in Manchuria to the CPC.
With the Communist forces now well armed, they pressed their advantage against the Nationals. The plight of the Nationalist forces was doomed by betrayal, however. Chiang's forces were denied weapons through an embargo declared by General George Marshall of the United States. Marshall boasted of having disarmed 39 of Chiang's divisions “with a stroke of his pen.”
Finally in 1949, unable to continue the fight, and with China in economic collapse brought on by the communists’ destruction of the nation’s infrastructure, Chiang Kai-shek led his battered forces across the Formosa Strait to Taiwan and relocated the government of the Republic of China to the island.
The rise to power of Mao was responsible for not only the estimated 77,000,000 Chinese deaths, but for tens of thousands of American deaths, as well. This is because, had China not come under Communist control, U.S. forces would not have died fighting against Chinese-supported troops during the wars in Korea (36,516) and Vietnam (58,209).
These deaths, Chinese and American alike, were the result of treason and betrayal — and that was no “mistake.”
Huge portrait of Mao at Tiananmen Square: AP Images