From Yin Shuping’s Qiuwang 秋望 a memoir of Yin’s imprisonment as a rightist.
For more on the author, see Yin Shuping
124. Xu Hongru’s Character and the True and the False Shen Chong
In the drier areas of the Jiangnan agricultural station, maize, potato, millet, beets, and wheat and soybeans were interplanted between rows of corn. Rice grew on the rice paddies. Of the 1000 mu cultivated, 400 mu were in rice and over 500 mostly in maize. Many more crops were harvested than at the Nansi agricultural station even though it was several hundred mu smaller. The Jiangnan agricultural station had many more crop varieties. Perhaps not all the crops grown in China and abroad but compared with Nansi and other farms, richer and with many more varieties than at Nansi and other farms.
Therefore, the vegetables and fruits of the vegetable plots of the garden team of the Jiangnan station were well-known to all the government cadres and re-education through labor inmates of the Malan farm. Not only was the self-sufficiency of the Jiangnan agricultural station the pride of the re-education through labor inmates throughout the farm, it was also supplied the entire farm with vegetable seeds for experiments. The administrators of the farm largely ignored the sideline industry vegetable plots to go plunder the Jiangnan agricultural station. After Xu Hongru became brigade head in 1960, he introduced many new varieties that attracted more attention to the farm. It was not just the variety and deliciousness that won fame. It was more the meticulousness of the Nan garden team and its stern management style. Amidst the great famine that gripped the entire country and the steadily mounting tortures poured on the heads of the re-education through labor inmates, the vegetable garden of the Nan garden team of the Jiangnan station was a magnificent place set apart like a Garden of Eden, quiet and forbidding. The vegetation was so luxourious that each step forward brought up a different scene of many different types of fruits and vegetables arranged in impressive arrays.
Everybody saw food that can be simply picked and consumed as forbidden fruit. Even people who grow them couldn’t just pick them at will. Everyone who breaks that rule is severely punished. This was the rule of the Jiangnan agricultural station. Not only do people not dare to pick for themselves the fruits and vegetables in the gardens, but even the vegetables that grow outside the gardens along the sides of the road in plain sight are absolutely forbidden to pick. Those plants stand their in their beauty, their fat green leaves, the flowers inclined towards the sun. Yet even those in constant hunger like the those education through labor workers who have have spent some time at Jiangnan as well as new comers just getting adjusted to the system do not forget the bloody lesson taught to thieves. There were those severely punished for their picking “thievery” and those arrested for sneaking food for themselves. There were even tragedies of people who picked these forbidden fruit and then killed themselves. Indelible in memory was the sick person and so was allowed to go get medical care. On the way back he picked a corner of a sunflower that was growing on the side of the road, feeding his hunger as he walked along. His luck was bad so he was found out.
The news soon reached Ma Wenying, who immediately ordered the person back to the agricultural station, saying that “once he is back to the station I’ll settle accounts with him!” Fear grew within the thief as he walked from the fields to the Jiangnan agricultural station so at a precipice on a winding mountain road, at the Twin Dragon Pool beside the rapids on the Malan River, Shen Cong drowned himself. This incident brought great pain, fear, and sorrow to the education through labor workers at the Jiangnan agricultural station. Forever afterwards they considered it an admonition that was that day fulfilled.
Shen Chong was a weak, bookish sort of fellow. A teaching assistant in the Chinese literature department of some university. A member of the Communist Party. I don’t know whether it is an irony or a mockery of history that his name was just exactly that same as that Beijing University female student, who, shortly after victory came in the War of Resistance Against the Japanese, was insulted in Peiping by an American soldier. After the Beijing University student Shen Chong was insulted by an American soldier, the anger of the Chinese was fanned by the Communist Party and became the occasion for starting large demonstrations against the Americans and against Chiang Kai-shek. That female student Shen Chong entered the lists of the struggle between Chinese political parties as the Shen Chong incident and so became an historical figure. This incident was important in laying the foundation for the campaign of Mao Zedong’s Communist Party against the Americans and Against Chiang Kai-shek and towards its goal of ruling China.
What an achievement! Naturally after Mao’s Communist Party came to power, the Shen Chong Incident was swiftly forgotten and never again mentioned. You can only come across it in some corner of the archives where records are kept, but only to serve the political purposes of the present and future and for written and oral struggles. The Shen Chong of the Jiangnan agricultural station was better educated than that woemn student Shen Chong of Peking University. That male Sheng Chong suffered more hardships and insults yet during the great starvation under Mao’s rule that killed tens of millions of people, because he was sick an hungry, he took to eat a small corner of a roadside sunflower and was regarded as a criminal. He suffered more insults to his dignity, body and soul than were the insults and humiliation suffered by Shen Chong under the rule of the Nationalist Party. He did not get any support. Nobody spoke out for him. Isolated in a dreary existence, in fear and trembling amidst that hopelessness, he plunged into the water and drowned.
His body was found by the old Shanxi Province revolutionary Mao Hao as he cut grass alongside the Two Dragon Pool for the donkeys. Later, Ma Wenying, out of his stubborness and to uphold his rights as the local despot, forced all the re-education through labor workers to listen to his relentless criticisms of Sheng Chong’s remains at a criticism meeting. Everyone there was trembling and heart-broken, yet that some need was felt to make their state of mind even more intense, was the scene of criticism of corpse. If the spirit of the ancient sage and patriot Qu Yuan could have heard, I don’t know just what elegy for a martyr for his country he would have sung.
Ah! Shen Chong, that female college student at Peking University in the middle of the fourth decade of the twentieth century who did not believe in Marxism-Leninism nor Mao Zedong Thought was seen by Mao’s Communist Party as a treasure that could be used to stir up opposition to Chiang Kai-shek and the Americans and promote revolution. The other Sheng Chong, the university teacher who in the sixth decade of the twentieth century was a firm believer in Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought and dedicated himself body and soul to it, was nonetheless was made to be an “anti-Party” criminal by Mao Zedong’s Communist Party. He was forced into a desparate situation and in his sorrow put an end to his own life. Yet after he ended his life he was still subjected to a cruel judgement. If the blue heavens indeed has eyes, what would it make of this truth?
What disturbs me even more is this: On December 24, 1946, Mao Zedong’s Communist Party used the “Shen Chong Incident” to incite university students throughout China to join in big demonstrations against Chiang Kai-shek and the Americans. Yet the Sheng Chong of the Communist Party’s propaganda, the one who was brazenly raped by an American soldier was not the true Sheng Chong. It didn’t happen that way. Shen Chong, according to the Communist Party’s ruse, approached an American soldier, and stirred up his passion. They did not have sexual relations. Nonetheless she said that had been raped and this claim was given enormous publicity. After she had been used by the Communist Party as an Anti-Chiang and Anti-American bullet, Shen Cong knew that she was in the wrong. She was ashamed to be seen in public and so changed her name to Shen Yan and maintained her privacy ever after. Later, she married my literary and cartoonist friend Ding Cong. She deceived the people of this world for several decades with this upending of the true and the false which could not be acknowledged in public down to the present day. Whether this Shen Chong of the past, late Shen Yan, feels regret, I don’t know. Yet that Shen Chong who could not accept his humliations and killed himself as the Jiangnan agricultural station, was a true and firm believer in Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought. If heavens has eyes, this incident should serve as an example for future reference.
The Two Dragon Pools are two pools of about two meters in diameter but of unknown depth. It is a mountain spring from which water pours out of the geological depths. The two pools brush shoulders familiarly but are not connected. Warm steam vapors emerge from the pools in the winter. In the summer, the water is clear and cool. Water has been pouring out of it since before human memory and from where no-one knows. The flow continues, never ebbing and never stopping, bouncing about and then entering the rapid westward currents of the Malan River. The currents flow until they reach a small dam on the Malan river not far downstream from the Jiangnan station. Much of the water is lifted to irrigate the 400 some hectares of rice paddy of the Jiangnan station.
When the Jiangnan station was built, some men were ordered to put a stone at the end of a long ropes and put the ropes deep into the gurgling pools in order to find out how deep they were. Thirty meter ropes with heavy stones tied on them still did not touch bottom. Despite the heavy stones, the deeper the stones were lowered they more they were buffeted and taken away so that they never could reach the bottom. In one of the pools, the rope one stone was attached to was taken away in to some mysterious passageway over 20 meters down. It took several men pulling together to haul up the rope, but they never did get the stone back. Therefore the pool was called the mysterious “dragon pool”. Later the pools became known as the “Two dragon pools”.
Shen Cong. The first person to drown themselves by plunging into the two dragon pools of the Jiangnan station. The first person to put into practice the ideal that human dignity and respect are more important than life itself! Forever after, the two dragon pools in the hearts of the re-education through labor inmates of the Jiangnan station became variously something that visibly affected them as they spoke, thought of with respect, stared at yet avoided coming up close, bred a deep and mysterious fear, seemed misty like a dream and as charming as a demon.
Jiangnan station used the blood and lives of its highly educated true believers in communism of excellent character to forge its severe discipline of blood and iron. This disciplline protected all the land and water crops of the Jiangnan Station, especially the garden and vegetable areas in the Jiangnan gardens. After Xu Hongru became brigade leaders, the Jiangnan station relied more on artistic performances and propaganda to spread its fame ever further. The vegetable and fruit garden area of the Jiangnan brigade became in people’s minds even more mouth-watering yet even more a place where one would not pick or even think of picking without authorization.
In those days, Xu Hongru was like a man who had bottled up for too long all the hatreds inside him. He stared at people calmly sideways and waited for his opportunity to sudden explode on people like a wild animal. He didn’t pay particular attention to those like himself who had been set there for reform through labor. No, he paid attention to the aggressive actions of the political cadres from Jiangnan or other stations who were set on implementing the proletarian dictatorship.
Moreover, these opportunities he looked for occurred fairly often. Once, a manager-instructor and a political cadre from the Blackhorse Bay station who were armed with live ammunition came to the station from a mountain district several tens of kilometers away. After a long walk along winding roads they made passed the final mountain by the oil factory of the Jiangnan station, cut through the corn field by the oil factory trench as they hurried on down breathless. They hurried over the bridge over the Mulan River and ran hungry and thirsty in the the vegetable and fruit garden of the Jiangnan brigade. They bent down as they walked along, picking sweet turnips, rubbing them and then chewing on them.
Xu Hongru, who had been quietly watching the two of them, roared like a lion in an angry voice, “What are you doing? Put them down!” His angry voice came out like that of a director in a local play, frightening these two political cadres from the Black Horse station as of they had just heard artillery fire. They stood, looking aheard expressionless, at a loss about what to do and looking about, terrified. When they say that Xu Hongru was wearing to the uniform of someone doing re-education through labor, just the same as that of the people then working in the vegetable and fruit garden, they immediately changed their tone and recovered their dignity and composure. They adopted the attitude of people exercising the dictatorship and switch from defense to offense.
“Aren’t you a re-education through labor worker? ” the two political cadres said, shamed to anger, in an accusing voice, with an undercurrent of murderous threat.
“Yes.” Xu Hongru walked towards them, unperturbed, holding his head high. Then he added “I am an education through labor worker of the Jiangnan Station! Planting and caring for the vegetable and fruit gardens!”
“Stand at attention! We are political cadres from the Black Horse station! A person getting education through labor must know that they should be well-behaved earnest in front of a political cadre! “
“You two are the ones who are not well-behaved and earnest! I, however, according to the government’s instruction and requirements are earnest and well-behaved in asking you not to steal public property!”
“What? What gives you that right?”
“The regulations of the Malan Farm! The rules of the Jiangnan station and the orders of the managers of the Malan Farm!”
“What? We can’t just pick two turnips?”
“No. What you picked was the prestige of the Communist Party and of the proletarian dictatorship of the great leader Chairman Mao, the honor of the Malan Farm, the dignity of the Jiangnan Station. Even more serious, what you did is a challenge to and a trampling upon of the excellent tradition of ideological reform of instructor Ma of the Jiangnan station!”
“What are you going to do about it?”
“Please first return the two turnips you picked to their original places. Then come to our station. If station manager Sun and Instructor Ma agree that you do that, we will do the paperwork and you can have as much as you want. I will comply completely and work closely with you. I could even have all the reform through labor workers of the southern garden pick all that you want or even everything and pack it up and send to your Blackhorsebay station and give it to you directly!”
“We are going to the farm on urgent business. We don’t have time to go to your station for paperwork delays.”
“No, that is not acceptable!”
“Could you just convey our words to Station Manager sun and Instructor Ma?”
“No, that is not acceptable!”
“Then when we get to the farm, we’ll make a telephone call to station manager Sun and Instructor Ma and explain the situation and promise that you won’t have any problem!”
“What nonsense!” The two angry political cadres through down the turnips they had picked, backed up and hurried out of the vegetable garden and swaggered off.
“Come here!” Xu Hongru yelled in a great voice. From all directions have came over 40 workers who had been watching developments quietly.
“Are you crazy? Are you rebelling? Starting a riot?” said the two surrounded political cadres with angry eyes, breathing heavily. They pulled back their rifle bolts and nervously confronted the group.
“Whoever harms a hair on the head of these two political cadres will die! Whoever does not obey the station regulations and brigade discipline will also die! ” Xu Hongru looked all around and yelled out
“What are you going to do?”
“I already told you repeatedly — go to our station headquarters. We are making a reasonable request. We do not have the authority to offend you nor do I have the authority to let you leave.” Xu Hongru explained in a cold and matter-of-fact way.
“Fuck this. We mean to go and we will go. You are delaying us and this is your responsibility. The boss will hold you accountable!”
“Whether I am to be shot or tortured, I assume full responsibility. Please…”
Thus the two Blackhorsebay political cadres, surrounded by over 40 Jiangnan Station education through labor workers, were taken you could say as prisoners, or you could say with an honor guard, to the headquarters of the Jiangnan Station.
Those two political cadres of the Blackhorsebay station were taken to the Jiangnan Station. After they and Xu Hongru described the incident, Xu Hongru was beaten and sent back to the brigade. Later it was said that Station leader Sun and Ma Wenying entertained them, invited them to drink teac and eat the sweet desserts made by the Jiangnan station. However, their behavior in stealing the turnps was not approved by Station leader Sun and Ma Wenying.
The news spread quickly to the highest authorities of the farm. No matter how much the two cadres from the Blackhorse Bay station raged, the farm department had to tacitly approve the attitude of Xu Hongru and the attitude of the authorities of the Jiangnan station and then openly approved it. News of this incident spread far and wide, reaching all the brigades of the Malan farm, and even the authorities of the city and provincial authorities of Xi’an and Shaanxi province. The reputation of the Jiangnan station rose. Station leader Sun was serene at this news. Ma Wenying go even prouder and even called a meeting of all the education through labor workers at the station so that this incident would become more widely known.
After this victory Xu Hongru said to me quietly once something that was on his heart. “Those bastards! I wanted to get a little justice for Shen Chong and for we who are miserable here because of false accusations. After doing that, I felt so much better!…” I smiled and just couldn’t stop thinking about it. That was the fiery eruption of a terribly oppressed soul. The firery riposte of a ground down and degraded soul!
This was a glimmer of light in the kingdom of darkness! There must be then, some eternal force that pulls us towards the light, the springtime and freedom. I keep this knowledge always in sight, always as a kind of voice in my ears, and always stored in my heart.
《秋望》殷叔平著 笔名 殷仁
就这样, 这两名黑马湾站的干部, 在四十多名江南站南园队劳教人员的远远包围下, 既可以说是被押解, 又可以说是被欢送到了江南站部……