Chinese Spy Novel “Fatal Weakness” — The CIA Spy School

Fatal Weakness  致命弱点  [Zhiming Ruodian] is a novel about Chinese spies in the United States,  the competition between US and Chinese intelligence services, and the fatal weaknesses and susceptibility to manipulation of both services.  Fatal Weakness along with the other two novels in the series, Fatal Weapon and   Fatal Pursuit .

 Read this chapter online in Chinese through the URL

A Chinese wiki Baidu has an article about the trilogy at

 Fatal Weakness   by Yang Zimin’er  杨恒均 was published in Hong Kong by the Kaiyi Publishing House in 2004.

 Chinese reviewers of Fatal Weakness call it an excellent portrait of the government millieu of corruption and double dealing in which the intelligence agencies operate. According to the plot summary, the United States exploits corrupt Chinese officials as information sources by playing on their greed. Some friends of young Chinese former spy trainee who has departed for the private sector are caught and so he rescues his friends by playing on both the weaknesses of the Chinese Ministry of State Security and those of the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to the plot summary a US – China double agent in the book works for neither side but on his own account, and feeds false information to both sides in order to serve his own agenda — the precipitation of a US – China conflict.

The chapter on FBI counterintelligence work against Chinese espionage in the US for has dialogue in which some FBI people are worried about China’s rise and talk about the “Yellow Peril”.  So  I wonder that the US part of the book may be a bit overblown and pieced together from press reports and books and may not reflect direct knowledge.  It’s a fun novel even though it isn’t really a spy memoir!

Here is my translation of the plot outline from the website:

Fatal Weakness, 260,000 characters in all, is divided into 26 chapters with titles such as  “Drugs Shock the Devils”, “God’s Surgical Blade”, “The Old Classmate in Washington, DC”, “Who Do You Think You Are?”,  “Infiltrating the FBI”, “Sex Spy”, “Target: Beijing Olympics” and “Double Agent”.

The main plot line follows Yang Wenfeng from university graduation to assignment to the Ministry of State Security, then after switching the private sector, to Guangdong Province.

 Disturbing things began to happen. One after another, his old classmates, one at the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, one at the Guangdong Provincial Government main office, and a third at the Jiuquan Guided Missile Launch Center were one after another were detained by State Security on suspicion of disclosing secret information.

Yang himself was taken away by the Guangdong Province Public Security Bureau. With the help of his former superior at the Ministry of State Security Intelligence Bureau, Yang discovers that the CIA is exploiting the fatal weaknesses – uncontrolled sexual desire and greed — of this classmate in carrying out its intelligence collection activities against China. In order to protect these old classmates, and in order to keep himself and his lover out of trouble, Yang Wenfeng takes advantage of the fatal weakness of the opposing intelligence service. He charges into the breach with his comrades and fights bravely.   But Yang Wenfeng isn’t the only one who understands well the fatal weaknesses of both the Chinese and US intelligence services.  When a double agent pursues a personal agenda and uses the fatal weaknesses of  the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the US Central Intelligence Agency to reach the goal – to make the 2008 Beijing Olympics a disgrace to the Chinese nation, to force the US and China into a confrontation and to make the entire world impose sanctions on China.

Summary translation of a few highlights:

The science park opened ten years ago but there are still some buildings under construction. All this construction activity made David Tian think of China which he hadn’t seen for years. Recently he had accepted the request of the Central Intelligence Agency to come twice a month to give a class for CIA China analysts.

He got out of his car and walked toward the building. The wall are made of a special material. Just in the exterior walls are planted 63 high precision cameras not to mention many infrared heat detectors, and equipment for detecting hazardous materials and gases.

After David Tian transferred to the FBI China Section last year, he was given responsibility for liaison with the CIA. Naturally he got into frequent arguments with CIA counterparts, but a senior CIA analyst Frank Buck [??], who later become the first president of the CIA Sherman Kent School invited David Tian to give a class on China intelligence analysis at the school.  David Tian reported this secretly back to China and in return his old classmates regularly fed him “material” for his class. The CIA is divided into senior administrators who might be in and out of the White House, spies who have a $30 billion a year budget, and analysts.

Analysts are trained at the Sherman Kent School.  Analysts generally are not involved in intelligence collection around the world. Thus unable to skim money off “intelligence expenses” the analysts have to get by on their regular pay.  Similarly, their chance of being promoted to the higher ranks especially to vice director or director is small. They don’t get to go on the TV news and even less get to play a role like in the glamorous Hollywood movies. 

Spending their days reading and working alone, most analysts have hemorrhoids and bad breath after a few years. Just for that reason, the CIA has them take training classes once every two years.  When you want to teach these people in class, they have this habit of lounging about in a slovenly manner with their coffee, always arguing back and forth, it is a real pain – you feel like strangling them!  

Yet it is just those people who write the most expensive and lowest circulation newspaper in the world – The President’s Daily Brief…..

The class of eleven men and ten women settled down. In addition to the regular teachers at the school who focus on basic training, the school regularly invites guest lecturers from throughout the Washington, DC area including think tankers from the Heritage Foundation, the Atlantic Council, etc. David Tian was excited at this opportunity – and Yang Wenfeng had planned it that way.  Getting into the CIA directly is difficult, but first getting into the FBI and then moving over to the CIA was much easier, especially in the post 9/11 environment. 

End of summary translation

发表在 文学 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 发表评论

PRC Anti-Corruption Novel “The Wrath of God”: Insights into Official Corruption

I lived in Beijing from 1996 to 2001.  One of the better books I read during those days was a banned novel loosely based I understand on a Beijing Municipality corruption case of a few years earlier.  I bought the book under the counter in a little bookshop.  China has another of its periodic anti-corruption campaigns underway now.  With so much corruption I wonder sometimes if perhaps most of the people accused are guilty but they are being accused for political reasons.

Here is what most sticks in my mind from the book:

The novelist puts these words into the mouth of a corrupt Beijing Municipality official: “But we can’t not have an anti-corruption campaign. Not only will the masses not allow us not to do anti-corruption work but the State itself could fall as corruption deepens. Therefore, if we don’t do anti-corruption work, the State will collapse. If we fight corruption, the Party will fall; if we do not fight corruption the State will fall. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place; we can only fight corruption for a time and then let up for a while. This is the only way to save both the Party and the State. We try to survive and develop within the cracks of a policy that is constantly wavering between the left and the right. “

Here is an essay I wrote about the book back then.

PRC Anti-Corruption Novel “The Wrath of God”: Insights into Official Corruption

‘The Wrath of God — The Anti-Corruption Bureau in Action” [Tiannuu -- Fantanju zai Xingdong] is an exciting novel about big city corruption in Beijing. Free-spending officials and their even more free-spending offspring figure prominently. ‘The Wrath of God”‘ (a better translation of the title would be “The Wrath of Heaven”) is written in a fast-moving cinematic style with plenty of flashbacks and changes in perspective would made a fine movie. This novel significantly overlaps with reality. To reverse paraphrase the legal disclaimer often seen on books published in the United States, any resemblance to any person, living or dead is not at all coincidental. For example, the U.S. fast food company that fights hard to retain its long-term lease in a prime area slated for a new building complex is obviously MacDonalds’ and the complex is just east of Tian Anmen square. This novel is a mix of fact and fiction — a Chinese official familiar with the Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong corruption case says it is half fact, half fiction. The significance of this book is not the degree to which the activities of the semi-fictional characters reflect the real Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong scandal but in the story of how official corruption affects corruption in modern Chinese society. Below the surface of the novel lie many deeper truths.

The novel gives insights into official corruption, the issue that angers the average Chinese person more than any other. Not only top officials but at every level, there are also cases of bureaucrats who exceed their authority and make decisions in the name of higher officials without informing them. In some cases such as the Beijing Municipality scandal involving former Mayor Chen Xitong which inspired the novel “The Wrath of God”, both the principal and his secretary were involved.

Background: Official Corruption and the Fight Against Corruption

The Yangcheng Wanbao (September 29) and a recent issue of Beijing Youth Weekly [Beijing Qingnian Zhoubao] the weekly magazine of the youth organization of the Beijing Municipality Communist Party reported on recent anti-corruption measures taken by the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party in 1996 in response to the Beijing scandal. The Commission that personal secretaries of officials “must not use their special position or use the name of their organization or superior to develop special relationships (gao guanxi) or take advantage of personal shortcomings for their personal advantage. ” More specifically, the secretary “must not exceed their authority, or act on their own to represent leading comrades in answering queries or making decisions; they must not sign documents on behalf of their superior, write regulations or issue orders.” Beijing Municipality has now ordered that a personal secretary should not work for a superior for an overly long period.

The characters upon whom the novel “The Wrath of God” is loosely based have been sentenced to prison. Mayor Chen Xitong was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting a bribe of 409,000 renminbi (US$1 = 8.3 RMB). His secretary Wang Baosen was sentenced to 7 years in prison for corruption involving 10,000 renminbi and to 8 years in prison for using 640,000 in public funds in a private business. Tie Ying, the secretary of Beijing Municipality official Duan Aihua, was sentenced to 5 years in prison for abusing his official position to get a bribe of over 56,000 renminbi. He Shiping, onetime personal secretary to former Vice Mayor Huang Chao was sentenced to 16 years in prison for misusing his official position to get a bribe of 243,000 renminbi. Mayor Chen Xitong’s son Chen Xiaotong was sentenced to 12 years in prison on June 28, 1997 for accepting bribes and criminal misuse of public funds. Chen Xiaotong, arrested in April 1995 for illegal economic activities, had been the manager of a Chinese-Japanese joint venture hotel in Beijing.

New Anti-Corruption Regulations

In March 1997 “Regulations on the Reporting of Important Matters by Leading Cadres” stipulates that not only leading cadres but also their spouse and children must report important matters such as building a house, business matters, and foreign trips. Austerity orders from the PRC State Council on eliminating “luxuries and wasteful behavior” published on the front page of People’s Daily on July 11, 1997 called on party and government offices to not use public funds for eating and drinking at big feasts and restaurants and not to spend large sums on redecorating, and to very strictly manage funds spent on foreign travel and cellular telephones. Recent press reports point to some success in cutting expenses in some places such as Nanjing and rather less in others such as Anhui Province.

Recent implementing regulations on official honesty have been issued by the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party. Entitled the “Regulations for Implementing the “Rules for Honest Administration for Communist Party Officials and Cadres”” issued by the Central Disciplinary Commission of the Communist Party was carried by Xinhua (New China News Agency) on December 22, 1997 and published in People’s Daily on December 23 (p. 3). The definition of bribery includes gifts and invitations to the official or the official’s family that might influence the conduct of official business. All gifts that could conceivably influence the conduct of official business must be registered and turned over to the government; failure to register the gifts is an offense. The regulations forbid using official position or influence to obtain improper benefit; Party and leading cadres of the county level or above are forbidden to conduct business on their own account; Party official and leading cadres are forbidden to convert public property into private property; forbidden to use their official powers or influence to help friends, relatives or coworkers to obtain private advantage including foreign travel or study abroad; forbidden to receive above standard official treatment at receptions, to use public funds to buy or decorate private housing, or to convert public guest facilities for private use. Article 28 of these new regulations forbids to party officials and leading cadres “the use of official position or influence to obtain assistance from any person or organization outside China to facilitate the foreign travel, visit with relatives or study of spouse, children, other relatives or friends”. The regulations were issued by the Central Disciplinary Commission on September 23, 1997.

Novels on public and private corruption have become a popular literary genre in China today. The Arts Network (Wenyi Wang) of the Central Broadcasting Network of PRC state radio in January 1998 concluded broadcasting a dramatic series based on the best-selling novel “The Decision” (Xuanze). The novel tells the story of a factory in which the workers were forced to buy the stock in the company. Once the workers have bought the stock, the management flees and the company collapses.

“The Wrath of God” An Anti-Corruption Novel Banned in Beijing

“The Wrath of God” is banned in Beijing. Banned books are not hard to get in Beijing, however. Even the “Private Life of Chairman Mao” about Chairman Mao and his mistresses is sold on the street. “The Wrath of God” is widely available and praised by many (including some Chinese government officials) for its good literary quality and insights into big city corruption. The book opens with a death, the apparent suicide of the Beijing City Vice Mayor. The spirals out into a panoramic portrait of corruption of the young princelings who live off the official positions of their parents, the rottenest rotten egg amongst them being the son of the mayor himself. The book that spirals back in to focus on the last day of the Vice Mayor’s life to eventually reveal the corruption which reaches to the very highest level of the Beijing City government. The story is largely of police detective Chen Hu’s efforts to show that the death of the Vice Mayor was not a simple suicide despite the opposition of a concert of bad guys who would rather let dead bodies lie.

The Views of the People are the Sole Foundation of Government; If the Foundation is Solid, the State will be Peaceful. If Corruption is not Eliminated, the Country Cannot Live in Peace”

The “Wrath of God” is about endemic official corruption. Nothing makes Chinese people angrier than official corruption. The epigram on the cover (apparently a photo-reproduction of the Yuanfang Chubanshe edition printed in January 1997) proclaims the threat that corruption poses to the survival of the State. The epigram reads: “‘The views of the people are the sole foundation of government. If the foundation is solid, the state will be peaceful. If corruption is not eliminated, the country cannot live in peace’ [Min wei bang ben, ben gu bang ning, fubai bu chu, guo wu ning ri]. In the novel, detective Chen Fu is presented the epigram written by a corrupt, executed official by the official’s son. (p. 69 chapter 4/3).

Why was “The Wrath of God” Banned? A Chinese Official Comments

A Chinese official familiar with the investigation of former Beijing Mayor Chen Xitong for corruption and still works on anti-corruption matters discussed the novel “The Wrath of God” in late 1997. The official, who had had read “The Wrath of God”, said that the novel was only half true. He called it a blend of facts and inventions written by someone on the margins who melded odd bits and pieces into a novel. Asked why the novel had been banned, since the police detective hero of the novel does get the bad guys and the novel does show the system working to root out corruption, the official responded that just because it is a mix of fact and fiction it should not be published. When asked it the novel could have been published if it were a pure work of fiction, the official said no, even if it were pure fiction it could still not be published legally. Any work which is aiming at someone or something cannot be published, said the official. When asked why it seemed in the novel that the police detective hero seemed to be fighting alone against the bad guys without help from the central authorities although the authorities clearly know what is going on. The official said that that is unrealistic and impossible. In one passage in the novel a corrupt official says that “anti-corruption campaigns are needed so that the State can survive but that the campaign cannot be too prolonged or intense or the Communist Party would not survive”. The official said that is not true but allowed that anti-corruption campaigns were not very serious two years ago but the anti-corruption work now is very serious and thorough. The novel was actually published legally in Inner Mongolia in late 1996 but was soon banned.

Good Guys and Bad Guys Agree: Corruption is Rooted in the Political and Economic System

Chen Hu, the good guy investigator with nine-plus lives and the more introspective bad guys all agree: it isn’t just good guys and bad guys, it is a political and economic system that encourages or even requires corruption to get things done. From the outset of ‘Wrath of Heaven’, the reader is aware that the central authorities know that the Beijing City is corruption ridden. But the center doesn’t do anything about it. Moreover, according to the principle of centralism (all links vertical, no cross linking at the same level). Horizontal relationships among local police authorities at the same level hardly exist at all.

Corruption is endemic in Chinese society today and anti-corruption campaigns are not serious, say several characters in the novel “The Wrath of God”. Early in the novel we encounter the saying, “Anti-corruption campaign is when a tiger makes a report, the fox claps his hands laughing, the fly hums along happily and only the mice run scared in the streets”. (p. 34, 2/4) Corruption is banal. From the vice mayor who steals millions to the chauffeurs of the party and government cadres or even chauffeurs (pp. 306 – 307, 18/4) who get apartments much larger than they deserve while others wait years for an apartment, corruption runs through the entire system. One corrupt Beijing Municipality Mayor’s Office official in the novel (pp. 282 – 283, 17/2) analyzes the situation this way:

“Don’t worry, I’m not the Anti-Corruption Bureau. The anti-corruption campaign makes a lot of thunder these days and quite a bit of rain. But rainstorms always come to an end. Once we are past the dangerous part of the storm, there will still be a lot of thunder, but less rain. And then after a while you won’t hear any thunder at all. Anti-corruption work cannot be done thoroughly because more than just a few people are involved. The historical conditions are completely different from the March 5 (3-5) case for which Liu Qingshan and Zhang Zishan were executed. Can we allow the era of opening and reform to remove us from power and replace us with the capitalist classes? That absolutely wouldn’t work. One more point. We can’t push the anti-corruption campaign indefinitely. For who else can the regime depend upon for support but the great masses of middle level cadres? If they are not given some advantages, why should they dedicate themselves to the regime? They give their strong and unwavering support to the regime because they get benefits from the system. Corruption makes our political system more stable.”

“How can Chinese officials compare with Hong Kong officials? Can they compare with Taiwan officials? Or with the officials of the developed countries? The salaries of public officials in foreign countries are dozens or even more than a hundred times higher than the salaries of Chinese officials. Moreover, a long anti-corruption campaign would expose the dark side of the Communist Party. If many of these things were to be exposed, the masses would lose their faith in the Chinese Communist Party. Who could accept the historic responsibility for doing this? “

“But we can’t not have an anti-corruption campaign. Not only will the masses not allow us not to do anti-corruption work but the State itself could fall as corruption deepens. Therefore, if we don’t do anti-corruption work, the State will collapse. If we fight corruption, the Party will fall; if we do not fight corruption the State will fall. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place; we can only fight corruption for a time and then let up for a while. This is the only way to save both the Party and the State. We try to survive and develop within the cracks of a policy that is constantly wavering between the left and the right. “

Accelerating Political and Economic Reform: The Only Way to Root Out Corruption

The hero of the novel, Beijing City police detective Chen Hu makes a similar observation. He and his partner quote with approval the words of a Chinese businessman on corruption. The businessman said that the extremely slow Chinese bureaucracy takes months and years to approve matters which a company operating in a competitive market needs processed immediately. The result is that government officials are offered very large bribes. “Even spending tens of thousands or even millions of renminbi for the approval of just one document is not too much since for a company getting an early approval saves money, gives competitive advantage and opens up many opportunities. Now spending millions of renminbi on bribes is not so much bribery but investing in the government is greasing the rigid government bureaucracy. Therefore the system must change if corruption is to be rooted out. …Corruption thus has two characteristics — to ruin the social structure, to stabilize the social structure, and to promote prosperity.” Chen Hu comments, “We have to fight against both the officials accepting the bribes and the people who bribe them. ..Of course, the only way to root out corruption is to accelerate the reform of the economic and political system. That is the only way to root out the structural corruption!” [pp. 248 - 249, 15/3]

Children of High Officials The Most Repellent Characters in the Novel

In “The Wrath of God” the worst characters are the children of high party and government officials; the younger generation provides an interface between high officials and every kind of organized crime. The principal bad egg in The Wrath of God is the Jiao Dongfang , the son of Beijing Municipality Party Secretary Jiao Pengyuan. Jiao Pengyuan built a spectacular house for himself with public funds and kept women, including a TV journalist, as mistresses. Jiao Dongfang, based in a luxury hotel, coordinated very large business deals involving government money and property. Jiao Dongfang videotapes the action of himself in his father with their lovers (one of whom they share) in the luxury hotel love nest. Vast sums of money and fine houses both father and son give to their mistresses.

When things began to go bad, Jiao Pengyuan turned to a series of murders, including the murder of a vice mayor, to try to cover his tracks. The unraveling of the murder of the Vice Mayor is the heart of the novel. Jiao Pengyuan In almost a caricature of a very bad guy, Jiao tried to assassinate a prisoner in jail by taking the prisoner’s brother out shopping for toiletries to take into the jail. Then, while the brother was not looking, Jiao puts cyanide into a tube of toothpaste destined for the prisoner.

Officials evade responsibility for official actions by purposefully muddying lines of authority. One corrupt official sarcastically describes the work of an assistant to a high official as based on three pillars of wisdom “ask first, then act; act first, then ask; and finally, act and don’t ask” as an important new innovation of Marxist-Leninist ideology (pp. 50 – 51 chapter 3/4)

Who’s On Top: The Uses of Kremlinology, Chinese Style

Chen Hu, a Beijing Police (gongan ju) anti-corruption unit detective, early one concludes that the Center has strong reservations about the Beijing Municipality Party Chairman. Chen draws this conclusion in the first few pages of the book. remarking how the Beijing City Party Secretary, once a fixture on Chinese Central TV news broadcasts, now almost never appears. The mayor is still a fixture on Beijing Television however. Chen Fu to his assistant, “China’s newspapers, news broadcasts and television tell us a great deal. The order of peoples’ names, how large the type font is used and the page on which a report appears about a certain person, as well as the frequency that person appears on television news are all indications of change in the political climate. Just between you and me, I think the central leadership has already drawn its conclusions about Party Secretary Jiao. The central leadership understands what is going on. Although they don’t tell us so, if we watch the broadcast news and read the newspaper we will sense a subtle change.” (pp. 11 – 12 chapter 1/2)

Gangsters Arrange for L-1 Visas: Visa Fraud Enters A Chinese Novel

Fraud involving U.S. passports and visas get a passing mention in this best-selling Chinese novel. In an appendix to this report, three pages (pp. 416 – 418) in which fraud involving U.S. passports and visas enter this best-selling Chinese novel. The passage concerns a corrupt official on the run, a man who had run a French steel mill purchased using Beijing municipality funds.

Appendix: Visa, Passport Fraud in A Best Selling Chinese Novel

Excerpt from pp. 416 – 418 of “The Wrath of God”

“‘The Secretary of State of the United States hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.”

Gazing at his English alias “David Sun” in the U.S. passport, Sun Qi felt happy. U.S. citizen David Sun is his new identity. Chinese gangster friends he had met at a Paris casino arranged for him to get to New York where he got the passport without any trouble.

During his time overseas, Sun heard all about the rapid growth of Chinese gangs in North America and Europe. The Chinese gangs had taken over many activities previously controlled by American or Italian gangsters such as alien smuggling and drug trafficking. Chinese ancestral wisdom and a long tradition of Chinese secret societies handed down from Taoyuan Sanjieyi, Wakangsai, Sanxia Wuyi, Qixia Wuyi, Shuibo Liangshan Yibaidan Bajiang, the Blue Gang (Qing Bang) and Red Gang (Hong Bang) made the cohesion of Chinese gangs far stronger than western gangs.

Financially much weaker than the western gangs, the Chinese gangs as ruthless killers nonetheless managed to murder their way into a piece of the action. Once most Chinese gang leaders were from Hong Kong, Taiwan, overseas Chinese living in Thailand or Laos. However as mainland China became an important international market and as more and more PRC residents moved abroad, mainland Chinese became and backbone of Chinese gangs. If you want to get into the PRC market, no matter if you are involved in alien smuggling or in drug smuggling, you need to work with mainland Chinese. Among the Chinese who left mainland, most of those from Fujian, Guangdong, Zhejiang and other provinces along the Chinese coast left China illegally. These people are underground people who have no legal status from the first minute they set foot on American soil. These people have no alternative but to fight to bet their lives on their chance to get win their own place under the American sun.

Sun Qi didn’t want to get involved with the Chinese farmers and fishermen who join the Chinese gangs. He thought of them as below him. Alien smuggling and drug trafficking doesn’t go along with his new identity either and the risk is just too great. Since he has legal status, he should do legal business activities. But he also knew that being on the run on his own, just waiting for his name to get on the INTERPOL, wouldn’t work either. He needed the protection of the gangs so that he wouldn’t be caught and sent back to China.

He chose to get his start by joining the All-America Investment group, a company run by American lawyers, a Chinese businessmen, and a highly-educated Chinese who had left China illegally. The Board of Directors wasn’t so interested in his money but in how Sun’s broad network of political and economic connections (guanxi) would enable the company to make some business and investment breakthroughs. The company invited Sun to join the Board of Directors and promised to give him protection.

The initiation ceremony blended East and West. The nine directors sat about in mahogany chairs including three American lawyers. David Sun presented three sticks of incense to the image of Guan Gong with a green robe and red face sitting in the middle of the hall and kowtowed three times. Sun then turned to face the Chairman of the Board of Directors who gave him a dagger.

A strip of paper on the incense burner carried the skull and crossbones as a symbol of death.

Sun Qi took the dagger and cut the middle finger of his left hand. He let the blood drip into the two eyes of the skull so they two red eyes appeared.

The Chairman of the Board handed Sun Qi and oath written in both Chinese and English.

That is the oath of the American gangsters. Sun Qi read it first in English, then in Chinese:

” I on my honor pledge to be loyal to the organization just as the organization will be loyal to me. This image is burning into cinders now just as my blood is bleeding from me, never to return. Just in this way I pledge my life to the organization. Just as the cinders cannot change back into paper, so I too can never leave this organization. I, David Sun, make this oath”

Once Sun Qi had read the oath, he put the paper into the incense burner where it was consumed. He watched it turn to ashes. He realized that Sun Qi had already vanished from the Earth. From now on, he would be David Sun.

The Chairman of the Board of the Directors was the first to come to him to shake his hand. The Director said, “Welcome, David Sun. You position in the All America Investment Corporation is no lower than your former position in the steel company. The main business of this company is in mainland China. Of course all our business there is legal and you will have your role to play in it. But you must remember if you ever betray us as you betrayed the steel company, your body will first be broken into pieces and then put into a grinder to make little pieces of meat. I hope that never happens.”

“Don’t worry about that, Mr. Chairman. I will certainly be loyal to the organization. Mainland China is moving towards greater reforms and opening to the outside world. The market is very big. I am sure I will be able to do a lot for the organization.”

“Welcome, David Sun” said the Director.

From that time onwards, David Sun had his own office in Chicago. The Chairman of the Board assigned him the task of finding PRC citizens who want to apply for an L-1 visa. The work was not difficult.

David Sun read carefully the U.S. INS regulations concerning the L-1 visa. Any university graduate who has no criminal record and has two or more years of managerial experience, is trustworthy, pays taxes, and is the manager of a company that has a business license can ask a U.S. company to apply for an L-1 visa to set up a subsidiary in the United States. Once the applicant has the L-1 visa, the U.S. subsidiary can operate for four years and then an application can be made to extend the visa to up to seven years. Two years after that application, the L-1 visa applicant can apply for the U.S. green card. During the seven years the businessperson can do business anywhere in the world and relatives can visit the L-1 holder in the U.S.

The American lawyer told Sun Qi that as long as the applicant has US$20,000, it doesn’t matter whether the person is educated or not, has managerial experience or not, or even whether the person has a criminal record.

Sun Qi asked, a little worried, “Once the money is paid can you really get the applicant to the U.S.?”

The lawyer replied, “That we can guarantee. The reputation of our company depends upon it. The one being cheated is not the immigrant from China but the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. These Chinese who come to the U.S. aren’t really setting up a company. Their real intent is to immigrate and the United States is very tough on immigrants.”

Sun Qi felt that the L-1 visa would be very attractive to independent Chinese businesspeople going overseas, people who sent their capital overseas, and for people who feel that the Chinese policy of reform had gone too far and have something to be ashamed for. But is there really a lot of money to be made in this field?

The lawyer’s reply showed Sun Qi the great prospects that lay ahead.

“We only need to spend about US$2000 at most on each application. So we earn US$18,000 off each immigrant. Ten immigrants means US$180,000. One hundred means US$1.8 million. How much would we earn from a thousand or ten thousand? Mainland China has a very large population. There must be at least ten million people there who want to go to the United States. So how much money can we earn? David Sun, immigration can be called the most profitable of industries. The ratio between investment and return is 1:10. Is there any business in the world other than robbing banks with that rate of return? Moreover, the INS put no numerical limit on L-1 visas. David Sun, hurry up and open the mainland China market for our company!”


The Wrath of God — the Anti-Corruption Bureau in Action [Tiannu Fantanju Zai Xingdong], by Fang Wen [psuedonymn]. Hohhot, December 1996, Yuanfang Chubanshe. Printed January 1997 press run of 5000 copies. ISBN 7-80595-271-X/1 120. A photoreproduced pirate edition is available on the street in Beiijng. Several web sites have partial copies of “The Wrath of God” in the original Chinese text.

Several web sites with several chapters of “The Wrath of God” are listed in the Chinese Text section of the web site

Famous Criminal Cases of Modern China 1949 – 1995 [Dangdai Zhongguo Ming An -- 1949 - 1995], edited by Liu Bin and published by Zhuhai Chubanshe in September 1996. ISBN 7-80607-194-6/D 1. “Famous Criminal Cases” is a five hundred page book that covers a wide range of 561 criminal and civil offenses. Criminal cases, each discussed in one half page to a page include counter-revolutionary crimes; public security offenses; economic crimes; crimes against persons or their democratic rights including murder, kidnapping, elections (including on p. 125 the condemnation of a Hebei Province man who on defaced a write-in ballot to one year in prison), stealing weapons and ammunition, and libel; robbery; offenses against the social order; offenses against marriage and family; official corruption; criminal investigations. Civil cases include libel suits; property suits; intellectual property rights suits; suits involving marriage, family and inheritance; economic (contract) suits; maritime law cases; administrative law cases; and cases involving people falsely accused which were later reversed as much as 30 years later.

Practical Handbook for the New Criminal Law, edited by Li Jianhua and Yan Jin. Published Beijing, April 1997, by Guangming Daily Publishing House [Guangming Ribao Chubanshe]. ISBN 7-80091-982-X/D 75. The “Handbook” introduces the much revised PRC criminal law which was expanded by one-third during the March meeting of the National People’s Congress. The Handbook explains the idea of criminal responsibility, distinguishes between crimes of negligence and intentional offenses, the varieties of criminal penalties, and then the various types of crimes against national security, public order, harming the socialist economic order as well as crimes against person and democratic rights, crimes against property, the national defense, military regulations (including voluntary surrender, releasing prisoners without authorization, and harming oneself in battle).

发表在 社会, 政治 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 发表评论

Translation of First 20+ Pages of Kong Lingping’s Rightist Memoir “Blood Chronicle” By One of the Long-time Prisoners of Mao Zedong

The selection translated describes Chongqing University at the outset of Mao’s Hundred Flowers campaign that aimed to persuade people to speak out freely. Kong Lingping’s 孔令平memoir was published in CD in Hong Kong and soon as a book in Taiwan.

Below is an English translation of the first pages of “Blood Chronicle” 血纪 You can find the Chinese text at

上 集血纪


Blood Chronicle Book One

Chapter One The Newborn Calf Falls into the Trap of Openness

In early April 1957, it already felt like Spring on the Chongqing University campus. At noon one day, the student restaurant loudspeakers blared an announcement from the university party committee — This afternoon at two o’clock, all university students, teachers and staff will hear the chairman of the university party committee pass along an important document from the Central Committee. Bring your own stool. Don’t be absent.

Then a song about the beauty of the four season by Zhou Xuan was played. I took my lunch and walked out the west side of the restaurant. On the steps, my classmate Ma Kaixian was eating her lunch and sunning herself.

This afternoon we will have to listen to another report. Which one of us is bringing the stools? I asked.

She turned towards her face, slightly reddened already by the Spring sunlight answering, Of course, that’s your job. I’ll wait for you here. Then she flicked her pigtail towards me mischievously and made a face.

I passed the Chongqing University Mechanical Engineering Department entrance examination in 1955. Life in college was much different from high school. We didn’t have any one classroom but followed a schedule moving from classroom to classroom. We chose out seat when we arrived and then left as the end of that class. There was no set place for self-study and review work. Apart from going to classes and studying late in the dormitory, students took their book bags and their things to study in the library or in classrooms. Life was much freer than in high school. Having been in the school for two years, I knew all the good places to study and every corner of the campus.

Ma Xiankai and I chose an old building near the pine forest back gate to the school. Most of the chairs and desks were missing; most people didn’t go there. It was quiet, pine trees were all about and the air was especially fresh. In those days, we had just fallen in love and enjoyed having a quiet place to study together and discuss things where we would not be disturbed. We repaired two desks and chairs ourselves and nailed together two stools that we could take wherever we liked whenever we attended a meeting or an outdoor film.

That afternoon, we heard a recording of Mao Zedong speaking at the Eleventh State Council meeting on The Correct Handing of Contradictions Among the People. When the meeting started, the university party committee secretary Zheng Siqun at the microphone announced that we would not be allowed to take notes. He enunciated the instruction very clearly, stressing each word, so that we knew that this was a rule that must be obeyed. Mao Zedong’s difficult Hunan accent added to the noise on the recording made listening difficult. However that were many things on the recording that we had never heard in our political studies that made this special. This freshness added to university president Zheng’s stern instruction, made for a much different atmosphere than before.

In those days, everyone was respectful of this top leader of the party and state. Although the recording was long, repetitious and disjointed yet order remained good and everyone on this ten thousand square meter meeting place listened from two o’clock in the afternoon until 6:30. There was very little talking back and forth and nobody snuck away. I remember to this day listening to that leisurely Hunan drawl as he talked about Khrushchev and the 17th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, about the events in Hungary and Poland, and about the situation in Eastern Europe. During those days, the History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a required course as part of our political training. Students of engineering and science, and in particular those of us who were the children of counter-revolutionary households were not interested in delving deeply into that curriculum. This even though the secret report to the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, after it was revealed to the world by the CIA and had created a series of earthquakes and divisions in the communist camp, had not made an impression on us.

Ever since my early youth I had been cursed by the tag of being from a counter-revolutionary household. Just hearing about counterrevolutionary riots and their suppression made me feel worry that I was going to be put into a difficult position and suffer for it. In my freshman year, I had run into the movement to fight the Hu Feng Counter-revolutionary group. Every time I heard that fearful label in my ears, I didn’t dare ask Why did Hu Feng want to oppose the revolution? I would simply repeat the dry statement that the Communist Youth League person had given us and never went any further. When I started Middle School, my father was arrested. Caught up in a long series of red terror movements, I always remembered my mother’s injunction Don’t be like your father, don’t ask about politics, just be a good student and discover your talents. That is the only thing. Don’t say anything about anything else, child. Remember the example of your father.

As for the Soviet Union, all I knew was that the socialist camp is impregnable. Nothing is stronger. Communism cannot be defeated. The Communist Party will destroy all the plots of the imperialists.

That day however, we heard from the very lips of Mao Zedong himself that we must opposed personality cults and the hero-worshiping of individuals. We heard that person from Hun an say that the the good deeds and errors of that deified figure Stalin himself were in the ratio of three to seven. That very head of the Soviet Communist Party who had been praised as the leader and father had become an ordinary man who made mistakes! We for the first time heard a new theory, to wit: Serious errors of subjectivism, bureaucratism, and factionalism exist even within that sacred and paramount institution — the Communist Party. There had been strikes and demonstrations in the socialist countries of Eastern Europe because their communist parties had been unable to resolve contradictions among the people. That There are many contradictions among the people, some of them quite serious at times We need to use the methods of criticism and self-criticism, democracy and persuasion to resolve contradictions among the people. The academic world should rely on as its guiding principle the method of Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Compete. Speak out freely and fully and write big character posters.

These principles, like a fresh rain, encouraged all the students since they had been chilled by a steady succession of political campaigns. I noticed the teachers in the front row straightening up and concentrating.

After the meeting was over, the students started vigorous discussions. Some of the students at the student restaurant even launched into a vivid description of Khrushchev secret report to the Twentieth Congress of the Soviet Communist Party that had been stolen by the CIA.

The library’s copy of Reference News and other publications that had published this report were all taken as everyone fought to read these materials and from them ponder just what was going on in China.

My lover and I were no exception. In the little study room we had made for ourselves we discussed it. An intellectually stimulating Spring had come upon us!

第一節:“大鳴大放” Section One “Speak Out Boldly, Holding Nothing Back”

Two days later, a banner Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom, Let a Hundred Schools of Thought Contend in big red letters hung from the education building.

Then all the Communist Party, Youth League, Teachers and employees of the university participated in a meeting held at the auditorium on Pine Hill called Help the Communist Party Correct its Working Style speak out boldly meeting led by the Chongqing University Communist Party Deputy Secretary Song Dianne. On the buildings around the meeting place there were already hung all kinds of colorful slogans such as Correctly distinguish between the two kinds of contradictions and handle correctly contradictions among the people; mobilize the masses in a mild and caring way to help the Party conscientiously correct problems in its working style; oppose subjectivism, bureaucratism and factionalism; Speaking out is not wrong, listeners should heed the warning, talk about anything you know about and don’t hold anything back.

At that mobilization meeting, Song Dianbin spoke in an unusually mild and sincere way. To express the attitude of the school party committee, he pounded on his chest to pledge that as he led this meeting, he would be open-minded as he listened to everyone’s opinions. He said he would accept any criticism, no matter how pointed.

The day after the mobilization meeting led by Song Dianbin, another big speak out boldly assembly of the entire university was held on the Unity Arena. All the top university leaders spoke out, welcoming everyone and asking everyone to share their views and to hold nothing back. Following them spoke the members of the mobilization committees of the various university departments, years and sections. They got into some detail and urged the entire university teachers, staff and students not to avoid any topic.

At the same time, the national media was getting into high gear, repeating constantly The entire party and the entire people are taking active part in a big speak out boldly debate. The movement to correct the working style of the Communist Party is the the most urgent current task facing us all and that it was particularly important that democratic elements outside the Communist Party participate more actively in helping the Communist Party correct its working style. The authorities employed slogans like a Chinese Communist must be determined to make themselves of one heart and one mind with the people, and work together with the people to build a prosperous New China and to be honest in working together with the people of the democratic parties build prosperous coexistence, to supervise one another, and to cooperate with them as one.

After reading some representative statements from the discussions at the meeting of all the democratic parties and democratic elements of the country convened by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, such as Chen Mingshu’s Seeking Teachers and Friends Outside the Party. I thought that Chen Mingshu’s talks was just flattery of the Communist Party. In particular, the part where inspired by the old saying Among any three people, at least one must be my teacher, he suggests that the Communist Party itself should also seek advice from people who are not party members, which is nothing more than what Mao Zedong himself said. Huang Shaohong’s talk The Party Replacing the Government touched on an extremely sensitive issue of the leadership of the Communist Party. He said while the Party is certain to be concerned about the methods of governance, actually doing everything itself is not a good working style or a good method. It would be strange indeed if the Party trying to do everything did not lead to the ills of subjectivism, bureaucratism and factionalism.

Moreover, Zhang Xiruo discussed the problem of the Communist Party’s four major deviations — being overly ambitious for great achievements, being too eager for quick successes and accomplishments, despising the past, and having a superstitious anticipation of a great future These opinions were offered to Mao Zedong as part of taking the pulse. Didn’t Mao Zedong earnestly call for everyone to present their opinions without reserve? Who could have predicted that Mr. Zhang’s words diagnose Mao Zedong’s mental illness and sensitive taboo?

Zhang Bojun in his talk on A Political Planning Institute suggest that many people should work together on political planning. That four humble workmen putting their heads together can plot a great strategy — is that what Mao Zedong had told us many times in his talks? Didn’t he call for a hundred flowers to bloom? Isn’t calling for a Political Planning Institute just an enthusiastic response to his call?

As for Chu Anping’s The Party Controls Everything made a sensation. The idea grew out of the old joke about the young monk who was always praising the old monk. The Party Controls Everything is just calling a spade a spade, not the servility of Chen Mingshu and speaking more directly than Huang Shaohong about the tyranny of the Communist Party, something that had the Chinese Communist Party’s allies had expresses dissatisfaction with that year.

How could university students under the control of red terrorism understand the world struggle between autocracy and democracy that was underway? Isn’t it a fact that the Communist Party was always deceiving people in matters both large and small? Wasn’t it true that those weak voices against one party rule were saying the same views that the Communist Party had strongly held back when it was fighting the rule of the Nationalist Party?

Luo Longji is his Rehabilitation Committee proposal showed how under the rule of the Communist Party there were a great many injustices. Who was not aware of that, especially people who had been attacked on account of their families? From the perspective of the ruling party, correcting mistaken and unjust cases should be a right and proper correction to make and a forthright opinion to offer.

Now these people who brought up these views and human rights were the old friends who had supported and helped the Communist Party. Mao Zedong himself had acknowledged that without their support, the Communists could not have won. Most of what they said were views that the Communist Party itself used to propose and hold. Now these views, from the perspective of a governing party, were hindrances.

Now the strong anesthetic injection that The nationwide large scale class struggle storm had passed and the new period of peaceful construction has arrived and so the atmosphere of fear generated during the campaigns of the Three Oppositions (oppose corruption, waste and bureaucracy) and Five Oppositions (oppose bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing) and the campaign against the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique had dissipated. Now it seemed that the big democracy of Europe can be used and the mild methods of little democracy can be applied to solve problems.

This is how as the spring flower blossoms opened during the third lunar month of 1957, Mao Zedong spread a deceptive fragrance throughout the country. In the lines of the relaxing tune Correctly Handle Contradictions Among the People describes how under the leadership of the Communist Party the masses made trouble for which the magnanimous Communist Party blamed itself, humbling bowing low as it accepted the criticisms and suggestions of the masses. The Party is like a glorious democratic spirit which for the sake of the state and the people came to the campus to plant a cultivate the beautiful scene of the hundred flowers blooming. The spring is the season for planting. The spring is just the season for showing the wonderful image of the Creator.

We who had already lived for seven years under the red terror of the Chinese Communist Party breathed sighs of relief and felt that in the midst of our fear we have been given an unexpected favor. We had become accustomed to the loss of democratic rights and always felt very cautious about freedom of speech, for hadn’t the Hu Feng counterrevolutionary clique made that error only a few months earlier?

They were used to have the great matters of state being taken charge of by the party’s policy and the governance of the school to be handled by the school’s party committee. So they never thought about those things. Moreover they were afraid of being tagged as someone who came from a counter-revolutionary household or as someone who had counter-revolutionary thoughts, of being investigated, and so kept their distance from these things.

Everyone knew from the Hu Feng case that anyone who listened to foreign broadcasts could be convicted of treason and jailed so nobody dared to listen to them. Conversely, they thought that this dictatorial measure of the Chinese communists was right and proper and that democratic views were dangerous. They became so cowardly that even when their own relatives were condemned unjustly in some campaign that they didn’t dare to speak up for them, thinking that making use of their right to appeal would get them into dangerous territory and so simply gave up. They didn’t dare oppose the arrogant attitude of the Communist Party organization.

Therefore when the party branch organization urged them on, they will unwilling to say anything at the speak out meetings. What did they expect these students of science and engineering to say? They could perfectly well have a passionate debate about some technical issue. They never expected and never imagined that they would be expected to offer advice to the party

In order to find out how the various speak out meetings were going, the branch party secretary called a meeting of the branch youth league secretaries for each year and each class and gave out a notebook to each one of them. He admonished them to be ready to make notes on the meeting of the next day, including the names of all the speakers. They were told that they must turn in the notebooks to his office every evening before lights out.

Not only did the youth league branch secretaries for each class not understand the intention behind all this, their liaison branch party secretary did not know and was just following the directions of the school party committee. The secrecy of the Communist Party was strict and so when the Party center decided on a policy, it required organizations at every level to carry out the policy as stated. They weren’t allowed to ask why!

The speak out meeting of our class was held by the branch youth league secretary Chen Si, in his room, No. 204. In those days there were very few student members of the Communist Party. Among the 1300 students in our department, there were only a dozen or so party members. This meeting in principle should have been chaired by a party member, but on the class level was convened instead by the youth league secretary.

Chen Si didn’t known how to conduct this kind of meeting which was strictly required by party policy. He didn’t know what to do and was afraid of making a mistake if he didn’t do it right, but he didn’t have any idea of what was correct and incorrect. The sophomore political guidance instructor, a Mr. Deng had previously in that same room had called a series of meetings with several people who didn’t know about other meetings on the same topic so as to root out and criticize the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique. Then, a teaching assistant said that Study is a matter of fighting alone with all one’s might and so was marked as a Hu Feng element. Later that teaching assistant was sent to away for re-education through labor.

Chen Si had no idea of why it was wrong to say that study is a matter of fighting alone with all one’s might. Where is the mistake in saying that? He himself had seen that teaching assistant being taken away in the prison van. From then on, he was especially on his guard whenever he met party members.
Normally when he conducted political study sessions for his class, he first made close notes of the talk the branch party secretary for their year Cao Ying gave them and reproduced them exactly, never daring to stray from them in any way.

That was not even a year ago. The brutality in political instructor Deng’s voice still rang in his ears. Suddenly everyone is asked to think broadly and told that it is allowed to say anything. People don’t understand that at all.

Chen Si made his opening remarks according to the notes that he had made at the department meeting. Class leader Guo Yinghu opened the meeting record book. The first day’s discussion was cautious, not at all like the vigorous discussions the students had had in the library and restaurant.
This worried Chen Si. How could he present a record of this meeting of the dumb to the school’s party secretary. There was no alternative but to use the old method of political meetings and call on people one by one.

Everyone simply gave a response in line with Chen Si’s opening remarks. Although Deng Yinghua made some revisions for the sake of the record, they were not significant, mere changes in phrasing. If he were to present this record to the school party secretary, he would certainly be criticized. The meetings of all the classes in the department went just the same way. The school party secretary then demanded that the youth league secretaries for each branch think of ways to get people to speak from the heart.

Chen Si returned and called a meeting of the branch committee of the youth league branch. The Propaganda and Education Committee member made a suggestion, volunteering to ask the ordinarily outspoken Lin Juan and Liu Tang speak first. Let them present suggestions on the work of their youth league branch. Organization Committee member Liu Kuize suggested that the person that Lin Juan most despises, Lei Tianpei speak first, then have Lin Juan make a response. This would enliven the whole atmosphere.

This plan was carried out at the next day’s speak out rally. Lei Tianpei spoke first and stopped after saying just ten sentences. Naturally this led to a sarcastic remark from Lin Juan, saying he was just like a poor quality tape recorder and not at a like a real man should be like. Surprisingly, she moved right on to attack class leader Guo Yinghua felt compelled to say that she was really too simple minded and harsh in her attitude. Moreover she was too subjective in the way she organized class activities, just doing things the way she pleases. For example, she said she was going to organize trips but we are already two months into the semester and we haven’t been on a trip. Another class, number five, had already gone on a trip to Longevity Lake and to Dazu — they went on a trip every week. She said she hoped that Deng Yinghua would change this incorrect work style.

Guo Yinghua face flushed red and then went pale for a moment. She put down her notebook, and didn’t know quite what to write in her notebook. She wrote this Lin Juan statement: Criticizes Deng Guohua class leader for inflexible thinking, she has the flaws of subjectivism and dogmatism, she is inflexible in her organization work and must improve.

After Lin Juan dropped her bomb, Liu Tangjin followed up but citing an example to criticize Guo Yinghua’s bureaucratic working style. He said, Last year, in the principles of mechanics class when we discussed gears and we still were not clear about the way a gear transmission shifts upwards and downwards and though that Teacher Lin was moving a little too fast, and asked the teacher to add some additional material to work on in the self-study class, only Guo Yinghua opposed, The self-study class is for self study, digestion of the material on one’s own, and there is no need for the entire class to meet and have a supplementary class on a small matter. This individual subjective view blithely contradicted everyone else’s views. Isn’t is clear that this is subjectivism, that this is dogmatism.

For the sake of being in line with the speak out boldly theme, Liu Tang put two hats on that class leader who was not even twenty years old. Deng Guohua was not a party member and seemingly had nothing to do with helping the Party correct its working style. Although it was off topic, still it made for an argument and everybody brought up a wide range of opinions and so became a genuine meeting for reviewing how democratic their community life had been.

The speaking out boldly of the science and engineering students was confined to those class leaders who they were in direct contact in their daily lives and studies. Chen Si and Deng Yinghua who were not even twenty, not to mention the beloved and well respected school party secretary Zheng Siqun, had no idea what the Party Center’s intention behind all this really was.

Big character posters pasted on campus wall stirred up the quiet campus. I remember the first big character poster put up in the mechanical engineering department. That poster, in polite language, aimed to give a word of advice to Cao Ying. Cao Ying was the class party group leader and a member of the organization committee of the party branch of the department. He was a cadre transfer who had been sent to the department by a certain organization. Although he was ten years old that us naive students but she had no better than an elementary school education and was already the father of two children. He had been sent to the university from the bureaucracy to brush up his resume.

There were many cadre transfer students in the department, much older than the other students who wore the hats of both party members and officials. In the early period after liberation, in order to change the composition of the intellectuals by placing among those students who had been born into the oppressor class some students of peasant and worker backgrounds. That is how the cadre transfer students came to the university campus. It didn’t matter whether they could keep up with the classwork, what mattered was that they spoke up for the interests of the Party and criticize people who had poor class consciousness. Everyone was a little afraid of them.

The person who posted the big character poster, blended sarcasm and irony with humble words that he hoped he that this campaign would wash him thoroughly. However he also hoped that the pretentious people who were criticizing him would study more mathematics and mechanics so they wouldn’t get a zero on their graduation examination and in the future work disappoint the Party’s hopes in them, and so make it hard to achieve the goal of serving the people.

Some with the poor educational background of Cao Ying might not necessarily catch the meaning.
Then came a second poster, a third and then many more. Cao Ying already had a bad reputation among the students. He was thought to take advantage of political examination and a private conversation to often take liberties with beautiful young women who had just entered the university.

During the speak out boldly period, the most controversy surrounded the poster about the head of the university food service. It was said that this 40 some son of north China peasants left the village to fight with the revolutionary forces for several years reaching the rank of company commander. After his return to civilian life, he was assigned as head of the food service at the university. There is no need to get into all the details of what was said during the speak boldly sessions. What got the whole school set aflame was the story of the diseased pork.

Nobody knows where section head Zhang bought several hundred fat pigs, but the next day a big epidemic started on the Chongqing University food service pig pens. After pigs died, they were sent to the student restaurants. The students ate diseased pork without knowing it.

The big character poster about section head Zhang that went up during the speak boldly period made him very ashamed of the diseased pork incident. He couldn’t explain from just which illegal merchant he bought so many diseased pigs. Nor could he explain why he used what he knew where diseased pigs to poison three thousand university students.

Section head Zhang was an old party member and had served in the Eighth Route Army. After he did this evil deed, he became a target of criticism as corrupt official and a murderer. The guilt made him sleepless for many days and nights. He always walked around with his head down.

It seemed as if students’ force of public opinion and ability to criticize people orally and in writing was sufficient to keep a watch over bad working styles within the Communist Party. This student movement resembled the student protests many years later in Indonesia and South Korea. Chinese students had an honorable tradition of protest going back to the May Fourth Movement. However, the tyranny of the Communist Party fostered ignorance and blind hero worship among the students so that they were unable to make reasonable objective judgments.

Section chief Zhang had a backer in Song Dianbin, who was concurrently the university deputy party secretary and university personnel department chief. Song for years had been fighting counter-revolution; fighting in the campaign against corruption, waste and bureaucracy; fighting in the campaign against bribery, tax evasion, theft of state property, cheating on government contracts and stealing; and fighting the Hu Feng counter-revolutionary clique. He always played the role of backstage director in these campaigns. If one were to search for someone who had committed the errors of bureaucratism and subjectivism, not to mention making up charges of murdering someone, he would be the one to choose. The section chief Zhang case came to roots on the head of this man who was used to being the stage director for accusations against others.

However, all the big character posters that went up were in line with policy and did not go outside the box of criticism. The meaning and usage was clearly aimed at seeing people as good and needing improvement. However in the cartoon drawn by the great cartoonist Lin Yusen, director Song became a short and fat fellow with his ears pointing backwards. The cartoon portrayed him going to work everyday, putting his bare feet up on the desk, drinking tea and smoking with a bunch of scattered documents that he had just approved. Some doggerel accompanied the cartoon that said that Secretary Song drinks tea and smokes in the office every day, approves documents hastily, and his not concerned abut the health of the faculty and students. We hope that he will conscientiously change this during this campaign.

Another kind of big character poster criticizing the Party and the Communist Youth League was concerned only their lifestyles and working styles. Sometimes a big character poster would say that professors should govern the school or criticizing the arrogance of the Party committee would appear. Some would criticize the way that elections to the People’s Congress were handled entirely by the party committee or the sufferings of innocent people in previous political campaigns. These posters were cautiously worded, were few in number and lost amongst the sea of posters that confined themselves to criticizing lifestyles and work styles. Later some posters appeared criticizing the behavior of some personnel at the USSR Embassy, Soviet military advisers and consulate personnel who harassed and acted aggressively towards Chinese female hosts at Chinese sponsored dance parties including forcibly kissing them.

Most of the students at Chongqing University were studying science, engineering and technology. At that time, about 80 percent of the students came from families of the oppressor class. Ever since liberation through the anti-landlord movement, the killing of local despots, the three opposes and the five opposes movements, and other movements against counter-revolutionaries, and atmosphere of fear had spread across the entire country. These people stained with an oppressor class background were the targets of these movements. Although they were temporarily in the majority of students at the university, the weight of public opinion against them they already felt as considerable moral pressure.

As someone from a counter-revolutionary household whose father was still in jail, I already felt more pressure than I could ever express. Therefore, I respected and feared politics like it was some powerful spirit and saw myself as a first class dwarf. That feeling of being deeply branded with my class filled me with a purposely created dread. I often thought of my mother’s warning Above all, don’t get involved in politics, you should generally avoid discussing national affairs. Therefore I decided to be a student of science and engineering. I thought if I could grow up to become an ordinary citizen, I would be doing well.

Our caution about politics made many of us children blind and cowardly about politics.
Mr. Dong Shiguang came back from the USA to teach at Western China Normal University. He spoke during a speak boldly meeting. Dong compared China and America including the systems and living standards of the peoples to explain his central point that the Communist Party was acting arbitrarily and dictatorially in its governance of China. Chongqing University invited him to come and talk to the entire school in a kind of democracy salon speech. His speech opened up the world and critical thought to those of us who had grown up amidst the traditional education of the Chinese communists and in the closed world of the university. But I didn’t attend.

Ma Kaixian went. When she got back she told me about it, clearly moved by what she had heard. She said: Mr. Dong compared the two systems using concrete examples. For example, he said that in the USA the students and faculty can bring questions about school facilities, the curriculum, and even the salary of teachers to the school’s board of directors. The board must respond to them. Reasonable suggestions are accepted and carried out with a certain period of time. Moreover, the U.S. government must abide by the U.S. Constitution and respect everyone’s opinion. Everyone has the right to criticize the government and can through their elected representatives impeach government officials etc.

In fact, I had already read of such things in publications and digests. However, I had been taught by the Chinese Communists the distortion of the truth that In capitalist society, democracy and freedom is the democracy of people with money. The oppressed classes live in slavery even worse than the treatment of cows and horses. This, combined with incessant political campaigns, had associated in my mind that worshiping America and fear of America are great counter-revolutionary crimes.

Throughout the period of speaking out boldly I was still caught up in my own foolishness and ignorance. I brought from my class background congenital inhibitions and cowardice that closed me up. I didn’t dare think for myself. Ignorance divorced us from the course of world events and the progress of civilizations, it made us lose our understanding of what a democratic society was, and we lost the motivation to live an authentic life.

Inhibitions re-enforce ignorance and ignorance re-enforces constraints.
The speak out boldly movement made us aware of our long held inhibitions and ignorance. We began to feel that we are pitiful people who have been kept in our ignorance and inhibitions for a long time. Keeping us there was the basic ideological guarantee of Mao Zedong’s dictatorship. Otherwise, Mao Zedong saw democracy as a great scourge that must be wiped out wherever it rears its head. If not, then how, during his lifetime could it have given birth to one political movement after another? Mao’s totalitarianism did not realize that once Chinese people understand their pitiful state of inhibition and ignorance, then dictatorship will be hard to maintain.

We young and isolated students didn’t realize the speak out boldly was just the opening of an ideological campaign that would be storm much larger and broader than the Oppose Hu Feng campaign. Hearing the solemn promises of every level of Party organization that the Let a hundred flowers bloom policy meant that people may speak out freely without fear of retaliation would in the end put those who spoke out into handcuffs and into prison!

It wasn’t until after Tian Tianrong at Beijing University painted a big character poster calling for democracy and freedom, Lin Xiling spoke out at Beijing University about the grievances of Hu Feng, and Feng Zhujun at Sichuan University called for democracy and freedom that finally at Chonging University a metallurgy department student youth league secretary Pu Shiguang put up a big character poster signed editorial board of an appeal on behalf of non-youth league members on behalf of students who were not youth league members and came from a household with a bad class background opposing the theory of the unique importance of class origin.

Even so, university students throughout China still hadn’t managed to escape from the box of ignorance and inhibitions and so didn’t overstep the ideological bounds set by the Chinese Communist Party. Tan Tianrong’s poster ended with the words Long live the Chinese Communist Party and Long live freedom, democracy and reasonable human rights and Lin Xiling’s call for democracy was still for socialist democracy. These kinds of calls made under constraint, this making peace with the cage communist theory did not move Mao Zedong one bit.

Mao Zedong, already swept up in the superstition of his own dictatorship, was just carrying out a big plot in plain sight — an open plot to wildly brandish the butcher’s knife against democracy. Even Pu Shiguang, with his minor point of opposition in opposing the unique importance of class background did not escape the cruel repression. Pu Shiguang was convicted of the crime of organizing a counter-revolutionary group, arrested, jailed and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This even though the so-called editorial board of the appeal on behalf of non Youth League members consisted of only one person — himself.
KongLingping p15 translation continued.wenlin

p. 15

Section Two My Youth

With the “Liberation Amy” occupation by the end of 1949 of Chongqing and the Southwest came the “democratic reform” movements, the purging of bandits and oppressors, land reform and the Three Opposes and the Five Opposes movements. In 1951 came the large-scale movement to repress counterrevolutionary activity and the capture and murder of millions of people who had served the Nationalist government.

In 1950 I was twelve years old. I often went to the mass rallies to struggle the landlords that were held in neighboring villages. Some of the people who were struggled were still only children. They were forced to kneel with uncovered knees on scraps of iron. Both of their knees bled badly. I couldn’t bear to look at them. The public judgment meeting was led by a commission of military officers. These meetings were held more than once a month in the little town I lived in. Each time some people were executed. On the wharf by the side of the Jialing River at Beibei was enacted the last scene of each judgment. People were shot and human blood dyed the pebbles in the sands along the river. Over time they blackened. Even heavy rains couldn’t wash away the dark spots of blood on the pebbles.

This is continuation of five years of civil war during which compatriots slaughtered and mutilated each other.

In the winter of 1948 my father became the acting president of the Chongqing campus of the Central Political University. The next year he became the president. During the second half of 1949, on the eve of the liberation of Chongqing, he hurriedly sent mother, grandmother, me and my little brother to Beibei where we lived in the home of Liu Hanliang, my father’s classmate and a witness at their wedding.

From then onwards, we settled down in Bebei, a little town on bank of the Jialing River.
In 1951 because of his “crimes against history”, he was summoned to SW Revolutionary University where Liu Bocheng was president to study.
His class was called the “class for especially high-ranking cadres”. After months he graduated and his problems with history were considered to have been “explained clearly”. He was sent back to Beibei and was designated a KMT intellectual who had stayed behind. He was to wait for an assignment.
(1) My family in 1950

[Photo -- the author's family]

My father taught at Central University during the War to Oppose Japan. After the end of the Resistance War, he returned from Chongqing to Nanjing and shortly thereafter became the president of Hangzhou Normal University. During the second half of 1948, he accepted the invitation of Mr. Gu Yuxiu (who had been head of Central University during the War of Resistance) to teach in Nanjing at Central Political University. Our family moved from Hangzhou to Nanjing and later followed father through Shanghai, Guangzhou and then back to Chongqing.

- 16 -

Unexpectedly, at the end of the year he was arrested by the Eastern Sichuan Military Administrative Office. My mother, who graduated from the Suzhou Women’s Normal University was an educator. The teacher adviser to her class section was Sun Qimeng, one of the founders of the China Democratic National Construction Association. Mother’s schoolmates in those years, influenced by the democratic ideas of Sun Mengqi, became student activists at Suzhou Women’s Normal University who in their day shook up the Suzhou Province educational circles. Those activists became sympathizers of the Chinese Communist Party’s underground activities and one by one left Chongqing for Yan’an.

Only after my mother and father married did they settle down in Nanjing. My mother was devoted to running a school, she gave her whole life to education. In 1943 with the help of the Nationalist government munitions industry chief Yu Dawei she founded the Jialing Middle School in the Shuangbei district of Chongqing. After victory in the resistance war, our whole family moved to Nanjing. We had originally hoped that we could finally live in peace in Nanjing. We didn’t realize that civil war would break out and that the five members of our family would again have to be constantly on the move like a little boat constantly buffeted to and fro by the tides of war.

In 1948, it had become clear that the Nationalists would lose. Father had wanted her to take the family to Guangzhou and then on to Taiwan. But mother was confident that her ‘glorious’ past and her friendship with people like Sun Qimeng would stand her in good stead and that the Communist Party would not give her any trouble. So she decided to stay on the mainland and await ‘liberation’.

After 1950, mother got in touch with Sun Qimeng who led the Sixth Bureau of the Chinese Communist State Council. She hoped that the Communist Party would remember a friend from their difficult earlier days and so give her an opportunity to continues her work in education and live a life as an ordinary citizen. Later events would prove, in the era of Mao Zedong, just how weak friendships formed in the old days of the student movement really were.

In 1951, the municipal Bureau of Civil Affairs named her a kindergarten teacher at the nursery of a Beibei district office.
At the end of 1951, two soldiers from the Military Control Committee came to our home to take my father away and searched our home. They confiscated jewelry and money we had saved for years, insisting that this was money the Nationalist government had given to my father to finance his counterrevolutionary activities. The did not give us any receipt for what they took. Mother was so angry about that that she wouldn’t eat for three days. From that time onwards, our family of four had to get by with difficulty on the 30 RMB per month salary that Mother earned.

My maternal grandmother was born during the Guangxu reign (1875 – 1908) of the Qing Dynasty. Her family was poor. When she was 16 she was married to a loafer from Suzhou but he soon came to ignore her. Later, because she gave birth to a boy, her standing in the household improved. Her son, however, soon died. Then she became a cast off wife — she was driven from the household. Two years later, my maternal grandfather died after living the life of a wealthy, hard-drinking playboy. My mother was less than four years old then. In those days, widows were expected to live a chaste and lonely life. Remarrying was difficult. Fulfilling the role of a virtuous widow was expected. This was the only way to maintain the respect and support of friends and relatives. Although my maternal grandmother was not the brilliant scholarly women of the novel “Flowers in the Mirror”, she did in fact meet the customary requirement of chastity — that she “be determined to hold firmly to her integrity and reputation until death”.

From that day onwards, mother and daughter depended upon one another. Grandmother depended upon her needlework and the help of friends and relatives for her support. She lived life of never-ending hardship. She believed that her miserable fate was the result of evil deeds in a previous life. She turned wholeheartedly to Buddha, ate a vegetarian diet, lived by the Buddhist teachings and held herself aloof from the world. She silently carried the heavy burden of getting by in life. Her diet was short of calcium so she developed a hunchback once past the age of 50. I grew up in her arms and it was under her care that the first seeds of my character were formed.

In 1952, I was fourteen and in the second year of middle school. My younger brother was six and had just begun elementary school. We lived in the dormitory of the nursery school on the third floor of a building set on the side of a hill. My school was about three kilometers away. To help out the family, I started working as soon as I started school.

In those days, in the area between Beibei and Fanbanshan there was no running water. Our household water came partly from rainwater which we used to wash our faces and our clothes. Water for cooking had to drawn from the well half a kilometer from home. After my father was taken away to the “Revolutionary University” to study, I began going up the mountain to get water from the well.

A full bucket of water weighed about 25 kilograms. I could only manage to draw half a bucket. The bucket pressed down on my thin and narrow shoulders. Bobbing back and forth as it did, I felt I could go no further than one hundred paces. I had to stop four or five times as I carried the water from the well to our home and arrived all out of breath. Because I was always shifting the carrying pole from one shoulder to the other, my two shoulders were rubbed raw and felt like hot spices. The pain was hard to take. Rainy days were the worst. Sometimes jolted as I slid down the mountainside, if I were not careful I’d fall over. I often got bloody cuts.

After doing this for a year, I got stronger and stronger. Thick calluses formed where the pole had rubbed and made my shoulders sore and swollen. I was able to carry a 50 kilogram water bucket and make my way swiftly and bravely down the mountainside and to my home in five minutes. From then on, I was the one who fetched the water in our house.

After our home was ransacked, it was very hard to support four people on my mother’s salary of 30 RMB per month. When I was in the third year of middle school, the teacher in charge of our class said that if your family is very poor, you can ask the school for a scholarship and be exempted from paying miscellaneous fees. The scholarship application had to be countersigned by the street committee office. The head of the street committee responsible for where we lived was also the chief of the Chaoyang police station. After I wrote and twice revised the scholarship application, I copied it out on writing paper and took it to chief Chen to sign.
The police station was in what had been an old temple at the foot of the hill below Beibei Park. It was very humid that day and it continually sprinkled down little raindrops. The temple, hidden as it was in the shade of some Chinese parasol trees, looked very gloomy. As I went into the grove of parasol trees, the rain droplets hitting the trees made a pattering sound that gave the place a spiritual feeling. This was my first encounter with grown-ups. I was only fourteen but carried the moral burden of a father who had been imprisoned. This was the first time I made contact with the government and so I couldn’t avoid feeling frightened. As I walked in, I could feel my heart beating like a drum.

When I got to the door, I got control of myself, tried hard to calm down my accelerating heartbeats, halting shyly at the doorway. It was dark inside, I couldn’t see clearly and couldn’t tell if there was anyone there. “Hello” I said, calling out to see if anyone was there. Nobody answered. waited a moment and didn’t see any signs of movement. I looked in side and couldn’t make anything. I said to my self, this is the government office, and someone might take me for a thief, I couldn’t tell. So I yelled out again, “hello!”

I heard a poof and the lights came on. In the yellow light, I could see the desk in the middle of the office. Sitting in the chair was a tall, well-built man, the ferocious-looking Chen Family Register. A year ago, when I was making the household registration on behalf of my father, I had come here with my aunt. He was the one who handled the registration. People called him Chen Family Register

He started to move to get up from the chair with a slight yawn and took his feet down from the desktop. I didn’t know if it was I was just a short kid, and on top of that the child of a counter-revolutionary family, he was very irritated that I had woken him up from his nice dream. He eyed me with contempt and lay down again, resuming his original position.

I went in, but in my nervousness forgot completely what I was going to say. So I stood there like an idiot with my right hand reaching into my pocket holding on to the scholarship application. After I had stood there for three minutes, he looked at my disdainfully and asked “What do you want?” I took the scholarship application out but I felt like there was something keeping my mouth shut so I didn’t say a word. I just handed the scholarship application to him. I felt my hand shaking as I reached out towards him. He finally got up from his chair and with his left hand accepted my note. His right hand he kept behind his back just as if he were facing a ghost on a dark night.

He looked at my application. His right hand slowly stretched out, grazing that fat, evil-looking plump chin. He chuckled coldly “I never heard of the child of a counterrevolutionary having the nerve to apply for a people’s scholarship.” As he spoke he through the paper down on the desk. His hei-hei-hei laugh resounded in the little room. I felt as if he had slapped me in the face, as if bees were buzzing in my head and had a burning feeling in my earlobes. In those days, the pain in my soul was piling up, layer upon layer: that morning when father had been arrested, when the whole family had been scared to death. My mother hid in a corner of the bed with my little brother, who was just seven years old, her face full fear. When they ransacked the house, my grandmother and mother were helpless. That Sunday when my mother had to sell clothes in the marketplace, everything spread around her on the ground. Mother’s colleagues at the nursery school who looked at us with contempt.

In that instant it seemed as if everything between heaven and earth begrudged me my very existence. Innumerable faces turned towards me to spit. If then the earth had split just in front of me, I would have hopped right to be become an insubstantial mist, drilling down into that split earth, too filled with shame to ever return to live among human beings.
Suddenly I felt courage surging into my soul. I abruptly stuck out my hand to retrieve that paper he had thrown down on the desk. I rolled the paper up into a ball, and without saying a word, I turned my head away and rushed out the door of that pitch black doorway. I stepped through a puddle. Mud scattered pitter-patter after me. Even as I ran I could still hear that he-he laugh coming through the trees behind me.
My grandmother was washing clothes. I fell into her lap and started crying loudly.
Ever since, that freckled face, that sardonic smile in that ferocious face, bent down like in some evil crouching posture like a malicious ghost often welled up in my dreams even down to this day.

Part III The Child of a Poor Family Soon Takes Responsibility for the Household

A middle-aged woman surnamed Lin lived near us. She had a pigpen in her backyard, raising four pigs for the neighborhood. Every day she bought some 50 kilograms of green pig feed for 30 cents. I saw my chance and so everyday coming home from school I would cut some grass along the way for the pigs. Fields lay on both sides of the two kilometers stretch of road I walked by each day on my way home from school. There were many varieties of ererchang [?] and amaranth. Every day I grabbed some as a I walked home. I could fit about 15 kilos into my bag and so each month I was able to earn about 3 RMB, just enough to pay my monthly tuition.

I was already fourteen so I felt very ashamed about what I was doing. Every day I brought a big bag to school. I was afraid my classmates would see what I was doing so I went to school early so I would be the first one there. I hid the bag in the narrow 50 centimeter space between the wall of the school and the mountainside. After school let out and my classmates had dispersed to their homes, I retrieved it. I rushed to grab the bag from the rear wall and then filled it with grasses on my way home. On the road home, there were two places that I visited frequently — one was the Beibei Hospital and the other was Li Family Gardens, the big home with courtyard that belonged to the landlord family.

In 1952, the Li Family Gardens were confiscated and became the temporary jail of the Beibei Court. The mess of the hospital and the jail both threw their garbage onto the hillside. A lot of ashes were dumped there. Among the ashes were many little bits of not entirely consumed “second-hand coal”. Although there was a lot of garbage and dirty water dumped among the ashes, I often went there with my sack to see what I could find.

Everyday I came home at seven or eight. One day, after it was already dark, I was carrying a heavy sack home. This time I was carrying not pig feed but second-hand coal and firewood.

Each day as I mounted the stone steps, I could my grandmother’s white hair in the moonlight. She was always there bent at the waist, looking for me. Even before I had climbed up the seven meters or so of hillside she would already be on her way down, taking the heavy sack off my back and together with me we would carry it, swaying back and forth, into our home.

When I got home, a basin of piping hot water for washing my face awaited me on a little square stool. I took off my smelly underwear soiled with mud, ash, sawdust and washed the dust and sweat off my face. After washing my face, I sat down with my grandmother and my little brother to eat supper. Grandmother would always put the best food in my bowl. In those days, we only ate meat once a week. Grandmother, when my little brother wasn’t looking, would hide the best food at the bottom of my bowl since she thought I worked very hard every day. I would always take the food out of my bowl and give it to my greedy little brother. By declining to accept things in this way, we came to feel very deeply the warmth that came from out depending so upon one another. In those days, we never lacked firewood or coal to burn and we never had to buy any.

Sometimes early on Sunday mornings I would put on my backpack and to into the thick forest near the Dragon and Phoenix Bridge to gather wild herbs and fish-wort. Mother would take the herbs to the market to sell. The waters in the forest near the Dragon and Phoenix river were permeated with the stinking odor of decaying vegetation. Whenever it rained it would become very slippery. Sometimes I would stumble across a snake jumping up out of the grass. I was never afraid. Somehow the heavens had blessed me, that poor boy. I never had any accident in all my work cutting grass for the pigs, collecting second-hand coal or gathering firewood.

Behind the school was a brickyard kiln. I used to go there to earn some money when I was young. The neighbors praised me for being sensible. Especially kind to me was our next door neighbor Mrs. Yu. She often treated me as if I were her own child. Her attitude towards me went a long way towards relieving the darkness that had come over my life since the arrest of my father.

Despite the suffering and hardships of those days, I was still fairly happy. My grades were among the best in our class. My brother and I never wore new clothes. We mostly wore cloth shoes or straw sandals. Grandmother every evening would get some old cloth to patch the soles of our cloth shoes. She would put paste over the cloth to make a hard shell and then, working by the light of a bulb, sew it to the sole.

One day when I was cutting grass for the pigs on the way home from school, the skies turned dark and thunder and lightning began. I put on my back-sack and ran for home. When I got to the Li Family Gardens, it was raining so very hard that I quickly hid inside the oven in the kitchen of the detention center.

A man about 40 years old came into the kitchen. The back of his blue shirt bore the character “laborer”. I remembered from my history book that during the Qing Dynasty prisoners wore similar shirts except that the character on their back was “prisoner”. He walked over to the oven and opened the door. He took used a hook to start the fire and a thick stream of coal came curling down from the oven. After he had put the coal into the oven he noticed me. In his thick Jiangsu accent he asked me, “Little buddy, where do you go to school?”

“At the Beibei Number One Intermediate School”
“What is your name?”

- 20 -

“Kong Lingping”
“How old are you?
“Twelve years old.”
The rain came down harder and harder so he invited me to come into the kitchen, and even opened up the steamer on the table and took out two big steamed buns for me. I guessed that with the way I look he must have felt very sorry for me. I unconsciously glanced at my toe already sticking out of my straw sandals where the glue had worn out, and shamefully accepted the steamed buns.

“What about your parents? What do they do?”
I looked at him warily. I knew that this is where my father was confined. Every day going to school or coming home I would always unconsciously look at this mysterious building, hoping I would suddenly see him standing on an embankment or at one of the windows. But I never saw him. This uncle was very kind, so I thought I would tell him my name and circumstances and perhaps he would be able to tell me about my father.

As soon as he heard my father’s name, he stared at me as if remembering something. Then he whispered into my ear. “Your father lives in Room XX. There is another building behind it so you can’t see it. I don’t know why but he wears chains on his feet. He added “People here who are in chains are certainly in serious trouble. If it isn’t wanting to escape, it is that they haven’t confessed or haven’t admitted their guilt.” After he finished speaking, he stared at me.

I was astonished to hear all that. Not only fearing for my father’s safety, but also worried about the dangerous things he had got himself into. I asked, “May I come here to see him?”
“That is difficult. However, if you really want to see him, you can go to the works site at the Zhang Family river bend. He works there every day from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon..”

The rain gradually tapered off and the sky was already a yellow dusk. My had thought that I would take some of that second-hand coal that had just been taken out of the furnace, but I was feeling dispirited so I just grabbed my bag and my book bag and headed home.

I told my grandmother the news as soon as I got home. Ever since father had been arrested, grandmother had been the most broken-hearted of us all. She was the senior member of our household of five and the eldest. Among Chinese people, the love and concern older generation has for the younger generation often exceeds the love people of the younger generation have for one another or for the elder generation.

- 21 -

She had often been praying and when she thought no-one was there, wailing and crying. “Xiangjia has been gone nearly a year”, she would say to her daughter, “but we still don’t know what he did wrong. Where is he being held? We don’t know how he is doing. What does he need? No matter what, we should go to the court and ask about him. …. If you don’t want to visit him in jail, I’ll go by myself. You get a letter of introduction from your work unit and give it to this old women. What does someone who will soon be dead have to be afraid of?”

This was even harder on my mother. She had to take care of the whole family, who had it harder than she did?

You can just imagine what my mother felt when she heard the news. The nursery didn’t have any Communist Party members then. The leader was Zhang Shimo, the secretary of the Youth League. Zhang thought mother, who had been the principal of a middle school, looked down on her since she had only just graduated from middle school. With that in play, she was especially determined to strict in her education of that “counter-revolutionary family”. Often whenever she spoke with mother, it was in her official capacity, telling her that she should “take the initiative to draw a clear line between herself and her counter-revolutionary husband. Take the initiative to expose the counter-revolutionary crimes of your husband. Only that will the Party organization take her circumstances into consideration.”

Whenever Zhang Shimo made a reprimand to mother, who was twenty years her senior, she seemed to get a strange sort of arousal from the fear and confusion that my mother showed. That arousal was a high for her, so she would reprimand my mother more harshly each time. Mother’s face became grayer by day, at night she could barely see. She often woke to terrible nightmares. Several times she just fainted for no apparent reason. Often when I came home from school I would discover her sitting by a lamp alone with a blank stare.

She was fearful and confused: what crime did I commit? What crime did my husband commit? Is all this because my husband was the principle of a KMT school? While he was principal, he never made “spy reports” about anyone. Nobody, teacher or student, were ever hauled off to jail from his school. Yes, when the students were in the streets demonstrating, he did admonish those hot-blooded children, but that was only because he was the principal of a school. He had to be concerned where human lives might be lost. He did indeed improve the food in the student cafeteria. What crime is that? Were the students opposed to hunger? He got up every morning and took a broom to sweep the entrance to the school. Was that working to destroy the student movement? If these things are wrong, how is someone to be principal of a school? All this considered to be working for the KMT. But wasn’t all that explained to the government while he was still in the southwest? And did the government say that it would forgive past transgressions?

Zhang Shimo’s harshness and sarcasm beat day by day down upon my mother. She was terrified. Would some of her jewelry be taken as evidence that she had “received expense money for counterrevolutionary activities?” Would she be arrested and sent to prison as well?
If that were to happen? what would happen to her two minor children? How would her 70-year old mother survive? The more she through about it, the sadder she got. The more she thought about it, the more she regretted how she didn’t listen to her husband and stubbornly insisted that they remain on the mainland. At that point, death seemed preferable to life and she thought about killing herself.

(4) Mama Yu

Mama Yu was our next-door neighbor. Her husband was the accountant at the nursery school. She herself was a peasant girl from Hechuan and about the same age as my mother. She had five children. The eldest was a year younger than me and her youngest was just one year old. Depending on her husband’s meager salary to support their family of five, she was even worse off than we were. She was fortunate that she came from a poor family and so learned to be frugal from the start. She not only took care of the children, but did all the housework and washed clothes for twenty people in our neighborhood.

- 22 -

Washing clothes was especially difficult back then since you had to go down to the Jialing River to wash them. She would go off to do her wash and ask my grandmother to look after her three smallest children. For the children of the neighborhood, because she was especially hardworking and always ready to help out her neighbors, she was like a mother. The children in the building always called her Mother Yu.

My grandmother wasn’t about to be going up and down the hill, so Mama Yu bought our rice and vegetables for us. Every noontime I saw her carrying a big bag of clothes on her back and a big basket of vegetables as she struggled her way up the hill.

After Father was arrested, our neighbors kept their distance from our family. Naturally compassionate Mama Yu was the only one who consoled my grandmother and mother.

Whenever she heard my mother weeping, Mama Yu would come over to console her. “What good can worrying do you? Worrying can ruin your health, and so what would grandmother do? What would the two children do?” Mama Yu would take a cloth to wipe my mother’s tears. She’d say “Look, your boy Xiaoping carries water, collects second-hand coal, cuts grass for the pigs and gets good grades in school. How can a mother who has such a son be heart-broken? You are angry, who are you going to be angry with? Anger that makes you ill will only hurt you yourself. These years there are just so many people who have suffered — with the struggles against the landlords, the killings of the local despots, the arrests of the counter-revolutionaries, and the arrests of the corrupt and of the greedy. Just look at Wang Guangying who lives across the way. Her husband was imprisoned and she has two children smaller than yours. She has a heavy burden but still she still get on with life. Grandmother is a good-hearted person. You are a good person, and as for your husband, what did he ever do against the revolution? I just don’t see it.

I am worse off than you are. If it weren’t for grandmother often taking care of my three children, how could I ever get down to the river to wash clothing? People should be compassionate, if you have some problem, just let me know. Grandmother says that she wants to go see someone. Whenever she wants, I’ll go with her to the court. We are honest people so what have we to fear?”

People need to be counseled since if someone got thinking over and over on a narrow track over trifling matters, then if they do not get counseling some unimaginable tragedy could occur. But if a person can just speak up and talk with them, it can be avoided. Mother was encouraged by Yu Mama’s words and gradually came out of it and put aside her hopelessness and suicidal thoughts.

When she heard the news that farther was working at the Zhang Jia Bend, grandmother immediately went to Mama Yu to ask her if she could find the time some day to go with her to the work site to see father. Mama Yu agreed without hesitation. They decided to go on Sunday, since Uncle Yu would be at home and he could watch the kids. I didn’t have school on Sunday so I could go too. I got a walking stick ready for grandmother. Grandmother got some soap, towels and a roll of straw paper and put it in her bag.

From home to the Zhang Family Bend we walked on small country roads. We got very early that day and so grandmother, Mama Yu and I got on the road just after dawn broke.

The air felt very fresh in the countryside that early autumn day. But the mountain road was muddy and so grandmother, who had bound feet, walked very slowly. She had not been out in the countryside for a long time, so naturally she looked around a lot.

I was especially careful since I was very worried grandmother would fall. My hurt was churning with emotions I couldn’t express. How was father, was he healthy? How serious was his case? Will he be able to come home?
Mama Yu was always nodding to the people we passed on the road. She had lots of friends.
By the time we got to the Zhang Family Bend work site, it was already eleven. We could hear some noise in the distance. The clanging of two hammers hitting steel rods. The sound of falling rocks and gravel. The faraway call of the stonemason. Then the jumbled calls of many men together. When the road ended we could make out the shapes of men in a ravine.

The “work site” was the narrow ravine between two hills. In the ravine were forty or fifty men, all wearing shirts with the character “labor” written on the back. I thought that my father must be among them.

I saw that in the thick grass in a crevice there were install two machine guns. When we three, an elderly woman, a middle-aged woman and a child got to the fork in the road, the sentry noticed us. He said that no-one is allowed to stop here. Quick-thinking Mama Yu said hurriedly asked the soldier, “Ah, Comrade, what is the way to Leiyin Rock?” The soldier sized us up, realizing that we were on the way to visit relatives, waved us away, saying. “You can’t walk this way. Go around the mountain ridge.” He pointed towards a bridge to the east and to a small road overgrown with grass that was very hard to make out.

- 23 -

I supported my grandmother and pretended to try to find our way and started to climb the ridge.

(5) The Last Time I Saw Father

Once we got on the ride, we had a bird’s eye view of the men down below. I nervously searched among the group of men. The sentries weren’t paying any attention to us, they were talking amongst themselves. I squatted in the thick grass and tugged on Mama Yu and grandmother to squat down as well. They immediately bent down. They pushed aside the grass to look in the direction I was pointing.

I saw him — my father!

He wore the gray uniform of Reform Through Labor.

发表在 社会, 政治 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1条评论

Important Thinking of Comrade Xi Jinping on the Study of History and The Practical Guidance We Can Get From it Today

Here is a my summary translation of an excerpt from an article on “Important Thinking of Comrade Xi Jinping on the Study of History and The Practical Guidance We Can Get From it Today”.  The full text of the article is at the URL below.

[If Xi teaches important thinking does that promote him above the concept level of Hu to the zhongyao sixiang level of Jiang Zemin? ]

As Comrade Xi points out, if we don’t respect the guiding role of Marxism in the teaching of history, China could go down the wrong path again as it did in the 1980s. In the mid 80s there were even people who, taking advantage of the urgent desire of Chinese to modernize rejected all of China’s history and culture and proclaimed that China must moved from the old Chinese “yellow culture” towards the “blue culture” of the West. … After the turn of the century, some scholars reversed earlier verdicts of history, reflecting the influence of “farewell to the revolution” thought. A few years ago, some scholars criticized some of the first generation of China’s revolutionary leaders and sowed some very bad influences among the masses and the young people. [you tell ‘em, Comrade Xi!]

1. 忽视马克思主义的指导地位,历史虚无主义思潮泛滥,严重影响了历史教育的成效。一些史学工作者在历史研究和教学工作中,由于忽视马克思主义的指导地位,放松了思想政治教育工作,在反思过去历史研究的教训和缺陷的过程中,走上了历史虚无主义的道路。上世纪80年代中期,适应中国人走向现代化的急切心理,有些人对于中国历史文化采取了全盘否定的态度,宣扬所谓的中华“黄色文明”必将走向西方的“蓝色文明”。新世纪初,有的电视剧、历史书籍对原来史学界否定的李鸿章、袁世凯等大肆颂扬,对孙中山为代表的革命者极力贬低,突出地反映了所谓“告别革命”思想的影响。前几年,个别历史学者对毛泽东和党的第一代领导集体大肆污蔑,对中国共产党人在中国革命和建设中的错误随意夸大和渲染,这些都在广大民众和青少年中造成了极其恶劣的影响。

发表在 Uncategorized | Tagged | 发表评论


Recently some fool on the KD net forum has been insulting the memory of Dr. Gao Yaojie’s father.  This is the article she wrote in response.




一、 高圣君的生平


 高圣君(1886—1943)山东曹县高新庄人氏,排行老二,十岁丧母,十四岁丧父,跟祖母生活长大。高新庄独庄、独寨,很富有也很气魄。高圣君住在高新庄西院。他大哥高圣尧住前院(高圣尧英年早逝,年仅二十三岁)只留其妻徐氏 (前清翰林院编修徐继孺的长女) 寡居曾生一女明兰早逝我出生过继给徐氏为女儿, 起名叫明魁。他弟弟高圣坦住东院是祖上遗留下的房屋。周围全是佃户,全村百多户,一千余人,仅有这一家姓高。

我二叔父高圣君是一位乡绅, 其原因是:




高圣君虽然文化不高,但人很精明,有智谋,有胆量,能力强。他生于乱世,处于匪患肆虐的鲁西南地区,为保卫他祖上遗留下来的财产,他到处买枪,顾十几个保卫人 “看家”。他的枪法很好,当地人们称他有“百步穿杨”之能。(即是说人在百步之外,指出要射穿杨树上的那个叶子,便会把这个叶子射落)。

他不仅看守自己的财产,也为别人看家;当地谁家出了事情-般都找他商量解决办法。1933年,我母亲的奶奶病故,我母亲要回娘家奔丧、想带着六个月的高世廉回娘家,我父亲听说当地土匪要绑票儿子,所以不同意带世廉前往,因此两人发生大的争吵, 二叔父来了说:“明天去,谁要敢动高家的孩子我当场放倒他。”第二天调了曹县的一个加强保安团跟弟媳一起奔丧,晚间平安归来。另一件事情,1936年,高圣君出的主意让高家卖10顷地,全户迁往上海,弟弟同意的说:“黄水要来,日本人要来,八路军要来,高新庄摊子太大,谁来都守不住”,但我母亲反对说:“他们不守祖先留下的产业是个败家子 因她坚决反对,故没有迁沪。现在看来,他很有远见。


当高圣君20多岁时,还常协助妻子贾氏在集市上买鱼买鸟等,然后到河边、森林放生。高圣君的妻子善良,常为佃户服务,夏天送茶水、冬天舍棉衣、春季舍粮食。高圣君为人慷慨,出手大方,不为物累,当地民众见状,私下议论猜测,认为高家产业也许会败在高圣君手上。他还因此得了一个外号,乡里乡外叫得很响:“高二穷种”。不过这个高二穷种心中有数,他家遗产丰厚,人口又少, 他不怕人说:“我高老二有的是钱,再花十倍我也不会变成个穷种”。  


高圣君终生不育 (本人生父高圣坦但是在当时医学不发达、男权盛行的传统中国,他的不育症他自己不知,他人更不知,乡里人均不知,一直认为是妻、妾不孕。事实上,传统中国社会对男性不育症,尚一无所知。

贾氏,山东单县举人贾鸿臣的长女。信佛教, 天性良善。天天烧香、日日佛经、不仅参拜神灵,还坚持吃素、常年行善。婚后十年,她仍未生育。为了传宗接代,高圣君纳妾,名叫冬喜,二三年后依然未育,遣其回娘家。再纳妾三妮,仍未生育。再纳吴四姐,又纳杨五姐, 均未生育。

1933年7月,高圣君的弟弟高圣坦次子高世廉出生,过继给了高圣君为嗣。这时的高圣君已47岁。高圣君庆祝得子, 当年秋季粮食拒收租,所有田地上的庄稼全发放给种田者,以示“大喜临门”。 

他非常高兴,请满月客, 举办宴席多日,一批又一批客人光临、送礼的客人都以为是他的某个小妾立了大功。殊不知,那时他已经把两个小妾打发回娘家了。她们临走时哭着说:“我的命不好,没福气, 来了二三年没有生孩子”只该回娘家去吧!但她们回家再嫁后,都纷纷有了子嗣。

1936年8月菏泽市西南发生七级地震,曹县许多房屋倒塌。1937年秋高新庄重修房屋,高圣君因头痛,生活不能完全自理,更不能到现场监工(当时人不懂高血压的病症)。1938年2月,他身患中风,半身不遂,言语障碍, 不会行走,只得专门顾人护理。




现在高家后人:第二代12人,时下在世7人:两个正教授、三个副教授。第三代15人:正教授、副教授、国外留学的硕士生、国内的博士生,共十多人 (不包括外来的媳妇和女婿), 这么多后人全是高圣坦所出,现分居世界四个国家,可谓苍天有知! 

二、 反驳对高圣君诽谤的谣言

1939年2月12日(农历腊月二十四),八路军冀鲁豫边区支队、隊队长杨得志、政委崔田民, 二大队、队长覃健就率大队夜袭过高新庄。其实是骗开寨门占领高新庄(不是《杨得志回忆录》写的那样‘趁夜摸掉两个岗哨打开寨门’),消灭了他的有300名团丁的“富户团”,缴获长短枪300余支、迫击炮一门,把所有财产抢劫一空,再将房屋付之一炬。八路军绑走了当时已经患脑中风的病人,高圣君和他的弟弟高圣坦等三人。他回家后对家人说:他们被绑走之后被土匪们实行严刑拷打,往鼻孔口腔灌辣椒水。其实家人当时己经听到他们受刑时的惨叫声。

八路军们这样做是为了什么呢?要钱。他们把高圣君等高家三人绑票,向高家要30万大洋赎身。杨得志的回忆录中描述了高圣君及家人这段悲惨经历:严刑拷打后,“……通知他(高圣君)家里人拿钱来赎他的命。‘要多少钱?’高二穷种家里人问,部队说: ‘七万块银元’,高二穷种家里人说:‘拿不出这么多钱啊!’部队说‘拿不出我们就杀掉他!’。”杨得志接着回忆道:“很快,高二穷种家里人送来七万块银元,领回了高二穷种”


“高圣君的外号叫高二穷种,其实富得流油。自从日本鬼子来后,他家里挂起两面太阳旗,还有日军授给他的指挥刀和委任状。他仗着豢养300团丁的“富户团 ”,又有日本鬼子作靠山,横行霸道,无恶不作,别看他年过半百,丑陋不堪,却霸占了30 多个年轻妇女做他的姨太太。”   


   上述当局的文献资料给高圣君定了几项罪.1,汉奸:与侵略军日本人勾结; 2,流氓:霸占妇女;3,杀人:主持活人随葬。4,恶霸:横行霸道,无恶不作;







在曹墨 (他姓高)“报告文字”的宣传煽动之下,即1966年文革中曹县的“红卫兵”挖开了高氏的全部祖坟,抡走了墓内陪葬珍品。但是他们发现了赵秀英的尸骨吗?

対高圣君制造各种诽谤的离奇誉论,漫画、小说、话剧应有尽有……用来掩盖其恶迹。高圣君去世己七十多年了,他冤情早己沉入海底, 所幸他早日病死,没有尝到肉身的痛苦,只是尸骨被铡。中国如此遭遇者并非高圣君一人一家,历史是胜利者写的,为了抢劫钱财的需要,可以任意造谣诽谤、混乱事实真相,以讹传讹,谁人能知真相呢?高圣君的冤情虽然己过去几十年,但有代表性,刘文彩、周扒皮等都是这一类的受害者,而高圣君也代表了几十年来中国大地千百万受造谣中伤的冤屈者。

发表在 Uncategorized | Tagged , | 发表评论

笔记:上海社会科学学者描写90年代中国变迁 黄河边的中国


  “China Along the Yellow River – A Scholar’s Observations and Meditations on Chinese Rural Society”  Reading Notes for Book One 

Shanghai Wenyi Chubanshe, September 2000
Publication data:

Publisher’s website at and email

Book cover photo and publication data (in Chinese)
Page numbers refer to the first edition. These reading notes are from Book One (to page 239) of this 772 page book. The notes cover the section on Cao’s first trip through rural Henan during May and June 1996.

The author of “China Along the Yellow River”黄河边的中国,  Professor Cao Jinqing  of the Shanghai Social Development Research Institute also wrote or edited

“The Road to the Restoration of Confucianism — A Collection of Essays by Liang Shuming”   (Shanghai, 1996, Yuandong Publishers) ,

“Escaping from the Ivory Towers of Idealism: Research on the Work Unit Phenomenon”   which focuses on the question can the work unit system, developed for the planned economy adapt to the market economy?

with Zheng Letian, “Social and Cultural Changes in Contemporary North Zhejiang Rural Villages”,   [Shanghai, Yuangdong Publishers]  and  the related essay by co-author Zhang Letian .

Social scientist Prof. Cao Jinqing  was able to do the rural survey that resulted in “China Along the Yellow River” [Huanghe Bian de Zhongguo]  took advantage of his network of friends and relatives in rural Henan to talk with farmers throughout the province during the Spring and Fall of 1996.  Cao remarks that the village is the unit of study for those who want to understand the modern fate of Chinese culture (p. 170).  Cao alternated conversations in the field with extensive background research on rural China during the Ming and Qing dynasties. This historical background gives his analyses and descriptions a rich texture and great clarity and a good sense of what is traditional and what are recent changes.  For Cao,  reading the history and literature books from the Ming and the Qing dynasties and talking with country people are two complementary approaches to traditional China.

Chinese tradition can be approached through texts or through getting out and talking with a lot of people, says Cao.  What is apparent is that all social organizations are modeled after the family.  One of the central questions of Cao’s book is that now that Mao is gone, (and despite Mao’s most strenuous efforts)  is rural China snapping back to its traditional sources or is it, disrupted by the biggest rural – urban migrations and economic reform changing into something completely different?  One of the big diffrences Cao finds between villages is the amount of non-agricultural income the farmers get. As non-agricultural income increases,  urban culture (and the cash economy) penetrate.  Villages with little non-agricultural income tend to have the highest number of  children born above the family planning quota [hei haizi]. [See the online essay by Prof. Huang Ping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences  "A Sociological Study of Non-Agricultural Activities of Rural Chinese" in Chinese on the UNESCO web site at  Selection of Articles in Chinese ]

The TV sets and the movie star pinups of the young married couples symbolize the arrival of urban culture in rural China.Cao remarks repeatedly on the growing influence of urban culture in the countryside seen in pinups, home appliances, TV and the many farmers who work in the city (or even in far off Xinjiang) during the idle season.

Chinese villagers, remarks Cao, hate and fear local officials but have an almost superstitious respect for high ranking officials.   (p. 199)  Cao noted that Henan rural people have great respect for Mao Zedong despite the famine that killed 10 percent of the population in southern Henan after the Great Leap Forward. (p. 172)

Henan is Geographically Closed Compared to Yangtze Region and Socially Closed: Local Officials Don’t Want Outsiders Be They Journalists or High Government Officials Talking to Local People

Henan is different from southern China in just as the Yellow River is different from the Yangtze. The Yellow River carries more a higher concentration of silt than any other river. So much so that the Yellow River from the Henan provincial capital of Zhengzhou eastwards has its riverbed well above the level of the surrounding countryside.  And forty meters above ground level at Kaifeng.  The river keeps getting higher and higher and higher.  The silting and raising of the bottom of the riverbed means that no rivers flow into the downstream stretch of the Yellow River and that navigation along it is not possible. Thus Henan is closed while the provinces along the Yangtze are opened up by that river that makes navigation possible deep into the Chinese interior. (p. 85)  People who live along the Yellow River get their water mostly from wells while people who live along the Yangtze get their water from the river.

Cao avoided going with officials so that village people would speak more freely about their incomes, village politics, relationships between the villagers and officials, family planning, corruption and family.  Many times local officials from the township or county discovered him and sternly questioned what he was doing there. Cao remarks that China’s villages are often kept closed by local officials. Even Chinese scholars cannot go there freely to do survey work.  Cao notes time after time that when officials heard that he was doing survey work, they accused him of breaking some kind of rule.  Officials feared that he was a journalist or an investigator from the central government. (54 – 55) .  This is a sign of very tense relations between officials and villagers. Some villagers, Cao said, were prepared to give him a full run down on local problems and official corruption in the hope that someone from the center would fix things.  (p. 57) .

Villagers sometimes feared that he was there to ferret out information about unregistered over the birth quota children.  The parents of the child and sometimes neighbors and relatives as well could be penalized if an extra child were discovered.  Cao with the help of the Kaifeng Party School mostly to counties where high county officials who would bail him out of trouble served but the officials as a precaution, but those officials were only told of Cao’s presence if a problem arose.  The usual way social research is done, said Cao, was for the county to be contacted,  the county contacts the xiang (district) and the xiang contacts the village.  And officials from each level not only accompany the researcher but shower the researcher with hospitality.  The problem with this, say Cao, is that with an official around,  the villagers will not speak frankly.

After Productivity Gains, Most Are Well Fed But Developing Industry is Difficult

Cao discusses the considerable gains in unit productivity since the 1970s owing to improved seed varieties, fertilizer and pesticides.  Mud and straw dwellings have often been completely replaced by brick.  In some villages people will hire builders instead of following the old custom that disappeared in the 1970s of gathering the relatives together and of course feeding them during construction work.  Land is generally allocated fairly evenly among the inhabitants of villages (typically one Chinese mu (1/15th of a hectare) per person, with some people getting a bit more sometimes if they belong to an influential clan, and sometimes they do not get extra land for a child who is over the birth quota.   Cao says that in rural Henan agricultural productivity has increased between three to five times since the 1950s owing to more fertilizer, improved seeds, and water conservation projects.Cao suggests that Chinese agriculture would be much more productive if farms could be larger, but the even allocation of land that is the guarantor of social stability blocks this line of advance (p. 36).

Villagers often say that over the past two decades, with the contract land system and improvements in irrigation and fertilizer the basic problems of food and clothing have been solved.  The problem today however is no spending money. Cao comments on the great number of village enterprise projects that have risen and failed driven by political pressure from above, handicapped by lack of experience and poor management below.  Village enterprises often collapse, Cao noticed,  when local people are taken in by swindlers from the big city. (p. 60 – 61)

Cao lets the farmers speak, adding in his analysis, but that analysis really emerges from a very through contextualization of what the local people are saying.  Cao,  never resorts to jargon. Indeed at the conclusion of the first half of the book (the book is divided into the Spring 1996 and the Fall 1996 trips to the Henan countryside)  Cao remarks on how the social theories imported into China from the West have messed up China something awful.  A swipe at Marxist-Leninism?  China needs to learn from Western social theory but rethink it so as to develop a theory that can be applied fluently to Chinese society.  Cao asks, “If we hold to a dogma that we don’t even believe in ourselves anymore, and don’t go study how social life and social  psychology is changing, how can we ever hope to solve the great many ideological problems before us?”  (p. 30)

One theme running through Cao’s book is the central importance of extended family and clan power in village politics.  Mao Zedong  tried to root it out of the traditional village, observed Cao, but the extended family/clan is still the basic fact of life.  Mutual aid among villagers, for example,  almost never went beyond extended clan groups. Cao made the fascinating observation that villages with a strong, effective leader who did go things for the village were nearly always to be found only in villages in which one surname dominated the village. [pp. 116 - 124 "Able Leader or Village Tyrant"]

When the Farmers Can Stand Up for Their Own Interests, China Can Become A Democratic Country

Cao writes that “the central task of modernizing Chinese villages is leading the village people, unable to stand up for their own interests and organize themselves to the point where they can stand up for themselves and organize themselves.” (p. 175)  Cao sees the election of village officers and the selection by village party members of the village branch party secretary as important advances in democracy.  One village leader said village democracy can work since people know each other, but how will it work in larger units such as the district?  Cao argues that the farmer’s conception of personal interest doesn’t go much beyond the village and do not think about representing their own interests but look to someone else to represent their interests.  In practice, village party committee are permitted to operate as long as they get the job done and there is not too much factionalism. If that happens, the district party committee will intervene and change the village committee. The corruption of village officials teaches villagers the importance of democracy, which is a weapon against corruption, remarks Cao.  (p. 63)

Cao observed time and time again as he asked villagers the name of the local branch party secretary or village officials, that the dominant surname always dominated village politics well above its proportion in the village.   The branch party secretary nearly always belongs to the dominant family/clan or at least to a large family (pp. 37 and 207) . In his discussion of the importance of the family/clan he stresses a feature of rural Chinese society that Chinese economist He Qinglian pointed to in the last chapters of her 1998 book  “China and The Pitfalls of  Modernization’  [ full text in Chinese at  Zhonggguo Xiandaihu de Xianjing  ]

Mao was unable to eradicate many of the customs and thinking of the old society, despite his most strenuous efforts. Now the question is will the old society return or is something else emerging?  The return of at least long-term land tenure with the responsibility system in agriculture seems to have restored many traditional relationships.  Especially these  four tradional relationships:

To land — exchanges with nature;

Non market exchanges based on human sentimental connections with relatives and others;

Market exchanges;  and

Relationships/exchanges  between the family and the state — that is the people are taxed and the state rules on the people’s behalf.

From Exchanges Based Upon Sentiment and Partiality to the Market

Large numbers of human exchanges based on personal feelings intrude upon modern political processes. Cao sees the same phenomenon operating in China that Max Weber saw in Europe:
“The human feelings in relationships that are such a deep source of pleasure are just what has prevented our people from cooperating in groups rationally on an equal basis with others. Max Weber wrote that to develop a modern rationalized organization, human sentimental relationships have to be eliminated from the process.  This process greatly improved organizational efficiency and became a powerful force for the modernization of the economy.  Some people say that an organization without human feeling (renqing) has become dehumanized. This is the very big price that humanity paid in order to create modern bureaucratic organizations. I suddenly understood what Weber meant.”  (p. 196)

What are the results? There are laws but they are not followed.  Laws are not strictly enforced. There is corruption in the Party and the government.  (p. 31).  Farmers are only operating in their local market — they will need a new way of organization to participate in national and international markets.  Farmers now enjoy freedom and the market, but few people understand that freedom and responsibility are interlinked.   Local officials charge all kinds of excess illegal arbitrary fees — they are not then ruling in the people’s behalf — are among China’s big problems.

Cao sees family planning and the tax burden on farmers as the two big flashpoints in the relationship between rural villagers and officials.  When Cao visits a village, he talks to a range of people from different income groups to get an idea of the tax burden (he calculated it at 24 percent in one village) and the proportion of children born over the family planning quota (he figured about half in  another village).  In one village an accounting table showed 4.7 percent tax rate (just under the five percent set by the State Council) but the village accountant explained that the tax rate was really 10.7 percent.  Villagers where nearly everyone depended exclusively on farming for their living were much more likely to have many “black children”.  (pp. 45 – 54)

Money Making Units Collecting Family Planning Fines and Taxes Swell in Size and Need to Collect Even More Taxes and Fines

In many areas, the district government would have ten or twenty divisions employing a total of over 100 people,  but the family planning section would by itself employ thirty or forty people.  Farmers understand that there is not enough land to support more people, but in their own case they want more children to help in farm work and for an heir.  The family planning office in one village, during the two years prior to a 1996 visit, to suppress excess births required all women of child bearing age to report to the district government office on odd numbered months.  Failure to report brought on a fine of 50 – 100 RMB.  One villager talked about some methods family planning official use when a fine is not paid such as taking away grain, livestock or even tearing down a house.  Sometimes neighbors and relatives would share in the fine or even in the destruction of their homes.  Family planning as an important source of revenue in many areas.   Here is a passage from a talk given at the Kaifeng Party School on family planning practices in some Henan counties:

“To accomplish their family planning mission, village cadres are doing whatever they think it takes — from fining people to corporal punishment, from taking away livestock to destroying houses, from holding close relatives responsible to holding neighbors responsible too. But many villages in the interior still have 25 percent more births than they should.

  “Many village, township and county governments have become dependent upon family planning fines as a source of “off-budget” income. Some county family planning committees assess a ten RMB (USD 1) per capita family planning fine quota on villages and townships, payable in advance. The township or rural district keeps half of the family planning fine, twenty percent is sent to the county and thirty percent is remitted to the village committee. If the county gets 20 RMB per capita, then the township gets another 50 RMB per capita. Some districts have lower excess births that others. In these districts, enforcement is often relaxed so that there will be more families to fine. The fines changed from a means to an end and the objective switched from reducing births to increasing births.” (p. 16)

On Village Democracy

There are three main conceptions of what a village is. There is the Marxist view that farmers are like potatoes — they are tied intimately to the soil, get their living from it but don’t have much to do with each other. A second theory divides people into social classes — that was theory was the basis of land reform (landlords vs. poor farmers) of the 1950s. A third theory (of pre-’49 scholar Liang Shuming)  sees a Chinese village as a family/clan organization.  Cao said that there is some truth to all of them and most Chinese villages are a mix of all three.    Villages on the north China plain tend to be larger (several hundred to a thousand or more households) than in the south, which is more mountainous.  Relations and exchanges between people and households are based on mutual courtesy and sentiment rather than on a market.  Owing to this mentality, argues Cao, people don’t think of themselves as a group with group business.  This mentality needs to be considered when analyzing village democracy and village committees.

Village organization descends most recently from the production brigade system. In rural Henan, sometimes the head of the production brigade was appointed or elected but was usually the result of an effort to balance several clans or the branches of the predominant clan.  People see issues from the perspective of the immediate family to extended family to clan and only then to the village.  Everywhere village people who are not able to represent their own interests see local officials systematically violating those interests.

What is the heritage of the collectivist thinking championed by Mao Zedong?  This kind of collectivist philosophy and style of popular mobilization  aimed at changing the Chinese village from what Sun Yat-sen called “a pile of sand” to a “piece of iron”.   Can the work brigades (equivalent to a village) fashioned by Mao become the source of democratic organization to handle public affairs?  Cao says after he can’t answer this question, but notes the village committees  mostly function as arms of the district that collects taxes, and sees to it that abortions and sterilizations are done.  Cao points out that the democratically elected village councils are the Chinese manifestation of an attempt at modernization.

Developing countries try to impose modernization from above by changing a system but the  social-psychological-cultural change need to achieve this is much harder and takes much longer than changing a system.  Cao sees democratically elected councils as floating atop a mass of traditional culture and traditional behaviors.  In most villages, people aren’t used to acting on their own behalf and if they want to, the village does not permit them to do so. Cao prefers, when considering this question not to thing about what should be, but what is, and even more what is possible.

Why Are Officials So Corrupt?

Why are village officials so corrupt? asks Cao at one point. Part of his answer is that in the mid 1980s some villagers started to get rich through sideline industries and by the late 1980s through some of the township and village enterprises.  Although  it should be said that in village after village introduced in the book the local TVEs that collapsed quickly or died at birth. The outside swindler and faking results for TVEs by local officials who want to rise are two typical TVE stories in his Henan villages.  Village officials saw some fellow villagers getting rich and wanted it for themselves. Cao observes that village people don’t like corrupt officials, yet their custom of giving presents for favors is a corrupting influence. So another part of the problem is the gift-giver.  Cao finds much in the Chinese villages of today that reminds him of his readings about China in ages past. His discussion of corruption includes a discussion of the famed clean official of Song Dynasty Kaifeng, Bao Gong, and the wide appeal that story has even today.

Village committee core officials (party secretary,  village chief,  village accountant)  work 200 days a year on village business are lowly paid. They draw just 100 RMB per month in salary.  The village budget might be 50 – 60,000 RMB annually spent on village roads, bridges, and schools. [pp. 66 - 67]

Mao’s solution to corruption, remarks Cao, was to mobilize the people against the officials, but that approach disrupted administration and proved to be very expensive.  Democracy depends upon a true democratic election system and press freedoms and individual freedom of expression — but real democracy based on people aware of and determined to use their rights — to seize power.  Not a country like India, remarks Cao, with vast numbers of passive people who receive these political rights as a gift. (p. 237)

Corruption Will End Only When Villagers Stand Up for Their Rights and Organize Themselves

Yet at the root of corruption Cao sees the inability of the villagers to create democratic institutions to represent them. The villagers says Cao, are always looking for someone to be the boss on their behalf (ti min zuo zhu) rather than organizing themselves and choosing someone to be accountable to them (min zhu). This is another theme Cao returns to regularly. Can democratic centralism be a kind of halfway house?, he asks.  Cao observes that democratic centralism is centralism without the democracy as it is practiced in rural China.  Democracy only goes as far as the expectation that officials will “listen to the people”.  But democratic socialism lacks built-in institutional guarantees to assure its functioning.  The central question for China, Cao writes, is to determine how to teach rural people to have a democratic consciousness through village and xiang-level elections.  “A modern political party with no interest of its own other than the well-being of the people, should make thorough studies of how to accomplish the political modernization of China.  This is an even bigger and more difficult task than economic modernization.” (pp. 237 – 238)

No Limit to Payrolls So No Limit to Fines and Taxes, Either

Another thread running through this books is the tax burden on farmer. In village after village farmers say that the tax burden is high and getting heavier.  Cao traces this to the role of the village, the rural district/township and county as the employer of last resort. Payrolls keep getting bigger and taxes increase accordingly.   In one xiang, Cao notes how during the last twenty years government and party payrolls tripled and quadrupled with many superfluous workers. The sections that increased fastest were those that brought in income such as family planning, public security and finance from fines and taxes. (pp. 91 – 93) .  When the xiang was organized as a People’s Commune, party and government staff totaled 20. Now there are 150.  When local leader were asked how many workers were needed, they said 30 would do instead of 150.

In discussions with a village leader, party secretary and accountant,  Cao heard four main reasons for this:

After the commune was dissolved, responsibilities of government and party sharply decreased, but the people who held the old jobs were still around.

Moreover, as a new function was created, new jobs and new sections keep payrolls growing.

The county kept sending retired soldiers and school graduates to the xiang. Jobs were created for them.  And payrolls got bigger year by year.

Higher-level government and party officials saw to it that positions were created for their children, relatives and friends.

In the more prosperous areas officials would look to taxing township and village enterprises, but in the poorer areas where there weren’t any companies, so the officials would count on bringing in money from family planning fines in addition to taxes assessed on farmers.

What is the population of the a certain rural district (xiang)? The agricultural and economics section says 23, 192; public security 25000; family planning says 26,000. Of course population is a moving target, says Cao.  The many “black children” (hei haizi) making an accurate count difficult.

Many government and party organizations in the xiang are responsible to their own higher-level organizations and are not under the xiang party and government. This is the so-called tiao/stovepipe  problem that makes coordination difficult.  In general if there is money to be made, the superior organizes jealously guards it against the local government; but if there is no money to be made or if it is a money loser, they don’t mind if the local government takes over.

The xiang government and party finds itself caught between the local policies of the county and the interests of the locals. If they implement a policy too zealously, they may be kicked out by the county as a scapegoat if the farmers protest.  The county sometimes imposed tasks — unfunded mandates — such as setting up facilities in the villages all the while demanding that the burden on farmers be reduced.  The village committee is supposed to represent the local people but is actually an implementer of the orders of the xiang.  One xiang party secretary said that a village party secretary needs to have a strong clan behind him when he tries to carry out unpopular orders.   The xiang looks for a strong, able person to be village branch secretary or village head.  People who want the job often have corrupt motives. So corruption and the power of clans keeps growing in the villages.  (95 – 96)

Communist Disneyland??

One of the more startling chapters in the book was Cao’s discussion of a visit to Nanjie Cun (805 households, population 3000)  near Luohe City in south central Henan.  The village decided in the 1980s to recollectivize, hew to a Maoist line and set up prosperous enterprises. It is run a charismatic leader Wang Hongbin. The leader is idolized in the Maoist manner. There is a Mao statue guarded day and night and Maoist slogans are everywhere.   The village got nationwide attention for its prosperity and Maoism. Political achievements also helped economic ones as the village became a favored place of pilgrimage for the communist faithful. See the :Industry and Commerce Times (Taiwan) report on the Nanjie Village controversy .

Cao found that Nanjie Cun is a perfect type of the one-family name highly clan-conscious village run by a benevolent leader.  The top leaders, all named Wang, belonged to the same clan. The village made a strong distinctions between the inner and the outer.  The very many visitors were kept to a tourist track and museums and had almost no contact with villagers.  Cao introduced him as a social scientist who wanted to interview some officials and villagers, but was refused and told, read these books and come back if you have questions.  [p. 131 - 153]   Cao concluded that from a sociological perspective the village is an ethical collectivity (lunli gongtongtai) and not a contractual collective community [qiyuhua de jiti zuzhi]. Wang Hongbin is a ruler on behalf of the people and not an official chosen by the people.

Nanjie Cun has three basic policies:

Low salary, high welfare benefits. This policy aims also at eliminating selfishness

Contracts are let out not to individuals as in the responsibility contract system but to collectives

Criticism meetings aimed at combating the selfishness of individuals.

Cao concludes that Nanjie Cun is a true collectivity and they are achieving collective prosperity.  Cao concludes that its success depends upon the existence of a particular personality that can drawn on elements in the culture, but it is a personal success and the disappearance of the leader will mean the end of the organization.  Cao also mentions that the Nanjie Cun enterprises employ 12,000 people only 2000 of who are villagers. The 10,000 others work for wages and do not share in benefits. Thus Cao remarks, some have criticized Nanjie Cun as “collective capitalism”.  [pp. 131 - 153]

Cao visited Zhulin, another collectivized village, and one much poorer than Nanjie Cun, which relies on industry. There too is a charismatic leader and the dominance of one family name: eighty percent of the people are named Li.  Here too, success depends upon the leader, and so it is not actually a model for other villages. [pp. 157 - 165]

Not Just the Political System But Social Psychology and Customs Must Change If More Than Superficial Changes Are to Occur

Cao concludes that the weakness of Chinese farmers is that they do not work together well and cannot see things. This Cao said is very evident in water and waterworks disputes between and within villages.  Thus collective interests objectively exist but do not subjectively exist.  Cao criticized some Chinese intellectuals who see democracy and dictatorship as just a matter of political systems. Cao says the difference is much deeper than that.  Those intellectuals are blinded by political theory and do not understand that the effectiveness of a political system depends upon social psychology and customs.  Cao says until Chinese villagers learn to stand up and represent themselves instead of just needed other people to represent them, any laws and democratic system will be merely like a little oil slick floating on the water. [p. 167]

China Along the Yellow River  Notes  Part II

(2-1/  pp. 243 – 254)

Here are some more reading notes from “China Along the Yellow River”. This section covers the introductory material to Book Two of Shanghai sociologist Cao Jingqing’s travels in rural Henan from September 6 to November 21, 1966.

The 770 pages of Cai’s  “China Along the Yellow River”  ( Huanghe Biande Zhongguo from Shanghai Wenyi  Chubanshe) are full of insights on society, economics, politics and society in rural China. The book is worth reading and studying.  I finished my Long March through this book several weeks ago. The quality is maintained throughout the book.  These notes cover pp. 253 ? 254.  In Beijing the book is available on the 3rd or 4th floor of the Beijing Bookbuilding (Beijing Tushu Dasha) near the literature section.  A second printing in January 2001 has brought up the total press run to 10,000 copies.

Reading notes for Book One are at  China Along the Yellow River — A Scholar’s Observations and Medications on Chinese Rural Society Reading Notes, Book One

Cai Jinqing in fall 1996 began his second survey in rural Henan after a summer of reading in history.  Cai’s summer studies focues on rural society and rural government in late Qing China and the relationship between the two.  Cai writes that an examination of history shows that although over the past half century rural China has seen large changes in its political arrangements, there remains nonetheless a large continuity in the old methods of production, and in social and political
relationships.  There certainly has been change, but not really qualitative change.  Now has appeared that greatest shift in Chinese history. One again  liberated Chinese peasants are moving into non-agricultural occupations in the countryside.  Will this finally break the great continuity and so overcome the inertia of history? It is still hard to tell.   Cai has been trying for some years to create a theoretical framework for understanding rural China.  Can it emerge from survey work, or can the theories of western sociology and cultural studies be employed to create such a framework?

A tradition vs. modernization framework can be employed of course, but what does modernization mean? Is it a change in the form of agricultural production?  Maximizing yield in a situation where there is one person per mu (1/15th of a hectare) blocks the consolidation of farmland.  Does modernization mean per capita income? Without industrialization, rural China can be adequately fed and clothed but no more.  Does it mean a change in the political consciousness of China’s peasants? Without a change in the current means of production, there is no way in which peasants can be elevated to the status of citizens.  The modernization
of rural China seems to depends on rapid commercial and industrial growth and thus on the modernization of the cities.  Only if China’s commercial and industrial sector can absorb the majority of China’s agricultural population will the modernization of rural Chinese society be possible.  This will be a long historical process, especially in western China.    Many of the habits of Chinese society and politics are rooted in China’s rural past.   Many of the new concepts that China will
need to be interpreted in the light of China?s national experiences. (pp. 243 – 245)

Commonly the experience of modernization in third world countries is modernization imposed from the exterior and from the top towards the bottom.  This is quite different from the bottom-up modernization process that occurred in the original modern countries.  In the developing countries, intellectuals have been the missionaries of modernization who entered the political process and then modernization political and legal systems.  They used political power and education to
reform social structures and to modernize the economy.   Yet if China approaches modernization from the inner towards the outer and from the bottom up, we find that there is a tremendous amount of inertia in rural society.  There are obstacles in old methods of production and in old social and political relationships that would be difficult to overcome, even across the span of several generations.

The Central Plains (zhongyuan) gave birth to the Chinese people.  Once it had a mild and moist climate.  Visiting the farmers of Henan, their burden and the difficulty of modernization become apparent.  The people lack farmland and the farmland lacks water these are the two guardian tigers block the way to modernization.  Farmers along the coast of Jiangsu Province can switch into other sectors and use agriculture to supplement their incomes.  Yet in the center and west of China,
agriculture will remain the principal sector for a long time to come. According to reports, of the 80 million Chinese who live in abject poverty, water shortages are the direct cause of poverty for 60 million of them.   Chinese has over the past five decades made great progress in agriculture.  China’s population more than doubled but per mu (1/15 of a hectare) productivity increased from three to five times with the wide application of modern agricultural technologies.   (p. 247)

Technological has brought important changes. However  even today the foundation of agriculture is still built on the old small-scale, intensive family based method of production.  This household organization of production and with it the customary way of relying on a web of personal relationships to obtain resources and the
ever-increasing bureaucratic nature of local government organization are still central.  This traditional household organization based means of production has strengthened steadily since opening and reform made once again the household the basic unit of agricultural production.  These facts cast a shadow on rural China?s prospects for modernization.

Some say that the May 4th New Culture Movement marked a decisive break with traditional China. This was certainly true for the intellectuals who took the West as their tutors.  For the Chinese peasantry however, the old system that “takes the household as its basic unit and a mode of behavior that relies on a web of personal relationships to obtain resources” has remained just as in the past a central fact of their lives.  Just as Marx said, the past has a hold on the present as the
dead a hold on the living.   Pessimism is not helpful but the kind of optimism that brings with it rash actions are even worse.

The purpose of this second survey period is to expand the areas of Henan Province covered to the northern, western and southern parts of the province and to shift the focus from the farmer household to the country district (xiang) and county level government.  The network of students and teachers of the Kaifeng Party School along with the relatives of the acquaintances of author Cai Jingqing helped arrange access to these areas.

A difficult question is the place of China?s traditional pattern of human relationships in the modern age.  As a human being I love and cherish this way of living even as my rational mind has its doubts. As an observer and researcher of modern Chinese rural society, I find that  it is just there  “personal relationships” that block the development and maturation of politics, the economy and ethics in China and that inhibit the development of the “individual in society” and of the “awareness
that one is a citizen”. Yet as a person, I want to live amidst these direct and sincere personal relationships.  (p. 250)

A professor Hu of the Kaifeng Party School said,  “Reforms must be paid for.  Who is paying for them?  Reform also creates profits. Who gets the profits”  Hu continued, “It is first the farmers and secondly the workers of the state-owned enterprises who are paying for reform. According to what I have seen in eastern Henan Province, since 1985 many farmers have not seen improvements in their living standards.  What they have experienced is with the steady rise in their tax burden a decline in their actual standard of living.  Among the workers of the state owned enterprises in Kaifeng City and Kaifeng County, two-thirds are
either laid off or looking for work (xia gang, dai gang).  For people who have lost their rice bowl, life has become difficult and uncertain. Who has profited from reform?”

” First of all are local government officials at all levels, and especially those government and Party officials who have some real power.  Second of all are directors and managers of factories that have contracts.  Third are the owners of private industry and merchants.    This is a very serious and complex problem. If the burden of reform is borne by the workers of the state-owned enterprises and the peasants and the profits are reaped by government and party officials and the owners of private business, then the reforms are not China away from socialism but not to western-style capitalism but to a uniquely Chinese style of bureaucratism.   China may very well be heading that way.   This betrays the intention of the planners of reform and also the wishes of the people who are determined that China should become a liberal society.  Observing what is really going on in China’s interior, the actual process of reform seems to be bringing China along this third pathway. ”

China’s reforms started in the countryside.  The household contract responsibility system gave peasants the right to manage their own land and their personal freedom.  The result was a great increase in agricultural production and made possible great developments in the industrial and commercial sectors. Thus I could say that the peasants are the direct beneficiaries of this reform.  The ever-increasing burden on farmers is directly related to the tendency for the size of local government organizations at every level to expand and the increase of bureaucratism.  This is in turn related to the problem of political reform of local government. The increase in the farmer’s burden since 1985 has meant that there has been no real increase in their standard of living since then.  .. The picture is more mixed for workers, since some have been able to greatly increase their incomes by changing jobs.

Some local level government and Party officials use their power to reap benefits for themselves.  Thus, this local level is just where the Party and government has paid the highest price for reform. The price has been paid in the corruption spread by these corrupt local officials who have corrupted markets, beliefs, loyalties, public morality, and principles. Corruption in the Party and government is the key problem.  Eliminating corrupt morals and illegal profits among Party and government officials and factory chiefs who have special contracts is the absolute precondition to ensure that the reforms of socialism go in the proper
direction.   (pp. 251 – 252)

Hu maintains that most of the peasants in the Chinese interior have been the price but not reaping the benefits of reform. The poorest peasants suffer from three kinds of disasters — natural disasters, disasters from local government, and the disaster of fluctuating market prices.  Local officials run campaigns to encourage all the peasants to plant one or another crop in the hope of improving their incomes. Very often the result is that everyone plants the crop, prices plunge and farmers end
up not being able even to cover their operating costs.   In 1995, the market price of cotton was higher than the official purchase price so many country and district government sent police to the countryside to force farmers to sell as the lower, official price.  This year the market price for cotton is lower than the official price so many local government purchasing offices are refusing to accept cotton. Administrative orders from local governments that farmers plant this or
that are one of the principal causes of wide fluctuations in prices.

According to a State Council order, the farmer’s burden may not exceed 5 percent.  In fact, it is very often 30 -  40 percent.  Hu continued, therefore, whenever you travel around the countryside you notice the very strong bad feelings of the peasants and local officials for each other.   During one trip, a peasant told me, “One day the peasants will revolt. When that day comes, I’ll be the first to go to the county and district government and kill all those corrupt officials.”   Naturally,
that is the talk of a hothead.

There is a peasant saying that goes:  “Law isn’t as important as policy,  policy isn’t as important as a document coming down from on high, and that document isn’t as important as the words of a leader.”

[Faluu meiyou zhence da, zhengce meiyou hongtou da, hongtou meiyou tsuiba da]

China Along the Yellow River reading notes  2-2 (pp. 254 ?264)

County government is the most important of the four levels of local government  (provincial, city or regional, county, and rural district [sheng, shi (qu), xian, xiang].  Qing Emperor Yongzheng wrote that the county magistrate is the official closest to the people and the foundation of government. ?If the county magistrate is honest, the people benefit most of all, if the magistrate is corrupt, the people suffer the most.?nbsp; Although in today
China now extends even lower to the townships and rural districts (xiang), these levels are largely outposts of the county rather than semi-autonomous levels of government in themselves.

Government and Party leaders are especially important. Moreover from the perspective of rural sociological and cultural studies, the county is a complete social and cultural unit.   Studies of households, villages and groups of villages depend upon an understanding of the county, but the county is largely a distinct unit for the purposes of study.   Counties can even have their own languages, cultural traditions, and histories.   (p. 254)

Wuyang County in central Henan covers 777 square kilometers and has a population of 510,000.  Ninety-seven percent of the people are involved in agriculture.  The proportion of local government income from tobacco tax has grown from 30 percent in the 1950s to 42 percent in the 1960s to about 80 percent during the 1980s.  During the five decades of the PRC, the number of local government offices grew from 10 in 1949 to 23 in 1957, 27 in 1966, decreasing to 13 in 1971 but rising again to 29 in 1978 and 36 in 1985.  In addition to Party and government offices, the offices of the county people congress  and other organization have also added many employees.   Although the number and organization of county offices have been constantly changing since the late Qing dynasty, the trend is clear. More and more offices and employees that result in an ever-increasing burden on the local people.   The contract responsibility system and the market economy seem to be major factors in accelerating the trend breaking down large families into nuclear families.   Most of Wuyang County people live just above the line of abject poverty? they are just barely adequately fed and clothed (wenbao).  (pp. 258 ?259)

County and district (xiang) finance is very difficult.  In 1993, eleven of the fourteen townships in the county were not able to meet their payrolls on time.  Growth in rural incomes has been slow even as production has steadily increased. People don have enough money to buy more.  In 1993 per capita peasant income was 705 RMB (USD 100). Taking inflation into account, there was only a very small increase over the previous year. This per capita figure is 216 RMB below the national average.  The peasants of Wuyang County have no other resources than the one mu (1/15 of a hectare) that they farm.  They can draw no resources from the seacoast, they can get income from the city, and there are no natural resources below the ground.  Their situation is typical for counties in central and western China.

Nonetheless, the one mu per person of land keeps people out of abject poverty. People are building better housing for themselves although most people don have much in the way of interior furnishings. The county for all its problems, like most counties in central and western China, are in better shape today than it has been in one to two hundred years.  (p. 260)

Handicapped by the lack of capital , local officials promoted many schemes to promote commerce in industry. Nearly all failed. In recent years over 6000 township and village enterprises were started up but as of late 1996 only 300 were still operating.  Where TVEs have succeeded seems to be more along the coastal China. These successes seem to have been based on successful enterprises that grew out of the People Communes but more importantly the business experience from the port cities involved in China trade and the growth of commerce their going back to the late Ming Dynasty.  The mental accumulation of ideas seems in the end to have been and even more important kind of accumulation than capital accumulation.   This kind of

rimitive accumulation?of ideas has just begun in  rural central and western China.

Where the nearly all the people depend upon farming to make a living, increasing productivity through mechanization and large farms is just not possible. In Wuyang County, as in central and western China,  mechanization would make it possible for one family to farm 80 mu in an area that has one mu per person land. To do that would require finding jobs for the 95 percent of the population that would be displaced.

Wuyang County has 128,000 peasant households and so a workforce of about 300,000 in the villages.  The slogan there is ut 100,000 people to work on various projects and to send a labor army of 100,000 strong down south of the Yangtze to find work?   People can find work at home, so many look for jobs outside their area. Wuyang County organized the export of its labor.

Most of the peasants in the Chinese interior still live the traditional agricultural life that has been typical of the area for thousands of years.  The western thinking that has penetrated China for the past hundred years hasn affected them much.  Although the peasants are sometimes very angry at the heavy burden local officials impose on them and how those officials eat and drink away their earnings, this anger is as old as that practice that itself goes back to ancient times.  (p. 263)    According to official reports, the government project that organized labor exports increased farmer income by 50 percent and official revenues by 25 percent.  The two biggest effects of this organized labor export is to change the traditional culture of the area as well as to change for the better the relationship between the people and officials.  Now a study would be needed to see if these claims are true. (p. 264)   The percapita farmland available in  Wuyang County is just one-tenth of a hectare (1.5 mu) .

In Henan Province there are two poles typical of life. Either  the peasants continue dozing in the same passivity typical of the  agriculture based culture they have lived in for millennia.  Or else appear many county and township officials who make big plans but their interventions in economic life are typically ineffective.   Here’s hoping that Wuyang County can escape being caught in a vicious cycle that alternates between these two poles.

发表在 社会 | 发表评论

英文翻译:呼籲書 ——為地下詩人李必豐而作

An Appeal – for the Underground Poet Li Bifeng  李必豐

For publishing my books “for a song and hundred songs” and “God is Red” [ <我的證詞><上帝是紅色的> ] last year, I had to flee my home country. Two months later, police officers (PSB Guobao) from Shehong County, Sichuan Province  四川省射洪縣  arrested my friend, the Chinese underground poet and writer Li Bifeng for economic fraud.

After an illegal detention for more than seven months, they are now trying once again to condemn him for so-called economic crimes. It is said that a court will consider his case on 8 May 2012.

The charge of so-called “economic crimes” suggested by the local PSB National Security Police (Guobao) were rejected twice by the prosecutor. This means that although “If they want to charge you with something, they can always find a pretext” is common knowledge for those of us living under Communist rule, but the ‘pretext’ provided this time was too far-fetched even for the Communist Party.

I recently learned from several channels that the police arrested Li Bifeng because of me. The police suspect that Li Bifeng had financed my escape – this is a groundless lie. No one knew the reason and motivation of my escape to freedom – not even my own family.

Li Bifeng is a fellow-prisoner of mine. He is a very talented intellectual. He has written several million words of novels and poetry. His life is filled with full legends. After the Tiananmen massacre, he once illegally crossed the border to Myanmar. Unfortunately, he landed shortly afterwards in the hands of Burma’s people soldiers who were supported by the Chinese Communists. He was sent back and was beaten almost to death. To this day, one side of his face is bigger than the other. Many of his adventures appear in my books “For one song and hundred songs” as well as “The Bullets and the Opium – the stories of life and death of the Tiananmen massacre.” [他的事跡多次出現在本人著作《我的證詞》和《子彈鴉片——天安門大屠殺的生死故事》 中。]

For the first time he was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation. For the second time it was in 1998. On behalf of Director Liu Qing of the organization “Human Rights in China” Li Bifeng investigated the strike of Mianyang textile workers. The investigation reports led to a further examination by the ILO (International Labor Organization) of the United Nations. For this reason, the authorities hated him so much, that they accused him for committing “economic crimes” and sent him to prison for seven years. Through Liu Qing I paid one thousand U.S. dollars for legal fees, so Li Bifeng could hire a lawyer.

Now they want to bring him to jail again under the same economic allegations. Should he again be sentenced to imprisonment, it would be the third time in his life. Should he be sentenced to 10 years, Li Bifeng would be an old dog by the time he is released. The life of a talented poet and writer would be thus completely destroyed. [如果被判十年以上,那麽李必豐出獄之後,就是個糟老頭子了,這個極有才華的詩人和作家的一生,就被徹底毀掉了。]

I must lodge this appeal for Li Bifeng. This is the first time in my life that I write such an essay. I hope that all my fellow writers, worldwide human rights organizations and even my readers in the East and the West will sign the “Appeal”.

This “appeal” together with the Li Bifengs “Prison – Poetry – Diary” will be published according to the suggestions of the ILB director (International Literature Festival Berlin) Ulrich Schreiber in three languages (Chinese, English and German) in the public and the media in Germany and around the world. This “appeal” will be performed via the global ILB-network to call for solidarity signatures.

 Liao Yiwu

Chinese writer in exile in Germany

Liao Yiwu writes that people may sign the appeal giving their name, occupation, and place where they live and sending an email to ]


呼籲書 ——為地下詩人李必豐而作



李必豐是我坐牢的難友,非常有思想和才華,寫過幾百萬字的詩和小說。他的身世具有傳奇色彩,天安門大屠殺之後,他曾偷越國境到緬甸,卻不幸被中共支持的緬 甸人民軍給抓住,送回來,差點被打死,至今他的面孔還是一邊大一邊小。他的事跡多次出現在本人著作《我的證詞》和《子彈鴉片——天安門大屠殺的生死故事》 中。




   (2012年4月28號下午6點,2009年諾貝爾文學獎得主赫塔.穆勒(Herta Mueller)女士來信,願意成為這份《呼籲書》的第一個簽名者。)


                                      1998年6月12日 , 晴,
                               1998年6月15日, 雨轉晴,


发表在 社会, 文学 | Tagged , , , | 发表评论