The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power under Mao, and he commenced his regime with a reign of terror. The CCP is a totalitarian and evil organisation, and now it is seeking to expand its power beyond its own borders.
If anyone has any doubts that the CCP is thoroughly evil, it may be time for them to read a little of the history of the Chinese Communist Party. It could not be uglier. I first came to the subject, when I lived in China and needed to understand the world in which I was situated. I also needed to correct some vague memories about Mao from my school history lessons, in which I could recall that Mao Zedong was presented in a positive light (note 1). The more I read about the CCP, the more I realised that it was a genuinely evil organisation, and that Mao set it on a path from which it has never diverged. Reading the history of the CCP also provided some interesting revelations about the present in which I was located. For example, one of the managers in the factory was called Li Hong Hai, which translates as the ‘Sea is Red’, which meant he was a ‘Red Guard’ during the Cultural Revolution period. This likely meant that he was, at the very least, involved in some kind of violence and repression during that time.
Although I have read many accounts of the rise of the CCP, my favourite is ‘Mao: the unknown story’ by Jung Chang and Jon Haliday. It has been criticised by academic historians as introducing some topics as new information but whereby other historians had already covered the topics. However, I like it as I was able to check one of the genuinely new pieces of information; what happened at Luding Bridge during the Long March. I will provide a very brief summary of the Luding incident. Mao and his Red Army were fleeing the Nationalist army and needed to cross a very narrow and dangerous bridge over a gorge. According to Mao, and the hagiography of a US journalist Edgar Snow, a small contingent of the Red Army stormed the bridge, overcoming a Nationalist machine gun nest. Chang and Haliday proposed this did not take place. I thought I would check this account and visited Luding. On arrival, I spoke with some old people who lived next to the bridge, and they laughed at the story, and discussion with Luding residents, in general, was of a similar kind. Further, when seeing the bridge itself (it is unchanged), it was apparent that what was claimed was so improbable it was nigh on impossible. The little story of Luding captures something of the mythology on which the CCP relies. It was never a party of the people but was very good at propaganda.
I will outline below a grossly simplified account of some of the horrors of CCP rule, and this is mostly based on the account of Chang and Haliday, but many other historical sources will confirm the points made.
The Early Days
Even before the Long March, and before he was the leader of the CCP Mao was conducting vicious campaigns of oppression, torture and murder within his own Red Army to ensure 100% compliance with his wishes. Following the Long March, Mao connived against the original CCP leadership to secure his leadership and, when settling in the new base area of Yanan, he instigated an oppressive regime of ‘struggle sessions’ to cement the obedience of all to his will. These struggle sessions bear similarities to some of the practices of Wokeism, in particular in Critical Race Theory “education” sessions. They are designed to break down any resistance. As a small and isolated island of Communism within China, Mao was funded by Stalin, and by growing and selling opium, a fact that the modern CCP denies, of course. He claimed to be fighting in a United Front with the Nationalists against the Japanese invasion but instead kept his army (mostly) out of harm’s way, whilst still proclaiming the role of the Red Army in the patriotic war.
As for how Mao and CCP were to come to power, one of the methods was, after the CCP won territory, they would carry out murderous struggle sessions in the villages, in which the CCP would encourage the murder of local officials and landlords. Once done, the village would have no choice but to join the cause as a return of the Nationalists would see those who engaged in the murder held to account. This is not to say that the Nationalists were much better, but that is not the point. The murder was to continue once the CCP gained power in China, with millions killed or oppressed for being ‘landlords’ or other undesirable elements. After winning power, aside from Soviet experts and advisors, China was increasingly shut off from much of the world.
The violence and oppression was to continue with the 100 Flowers campaign (1957). The CCP invited criticism of the CCP and CCP policy from the intellectuals in society. An outpouring of criticism followed. Then the next stage was that anyone who had critiqued the party was swiftly sent off to the Chinese version of the gulag, and almost certain death. The next big step Mao took was ‘The Great Leap Forward’, an insane idea to rapidly industrialise China (1958-61). It is difficult to summarise all that took place, but most of the peasants of China were forced into communes, families were broken up, and Mao sought to mobilise the peasants into steel making and huge infrastructure projects. People were literally worked to death. It was all a dismal failure. Even worse, the agricultural policies that were followed were built on pseudoscience, wishful thinking, and a squeezing of agriculture to pay for Soviet technology, including military technology. What was to follow was the largest famine in human history, with estimates of 45 million dead, and perhaps even more. Even as his own people starved, Mao exported grain for income, and for prestige in the Communist world.
Mao had gone too far for his own party. The disaster of the Great Leap saw his own party push him to the sidelines. However, Mao was not going to accept any secondary role and instigated the Cultural Revolution (1965). This event was to see the cult of Mao reach new heights as young people were encouraged to smash the system and displace the original communist leadership. What was to follow was a hell-scape of violence, torture, and oppression, with neighbour turning on neighbour and factions of Red Guards, each claiming the support of Mao, engaging in what came close to a civil war. The brutality of the cultural revolution cannot be underestimated. As part of the campaign, Mao sought to break China away from the past in a campaign against the ‘Four Olds’ which were; old ideas, old culture, old habits, and old customs. In practice, it looked very much what we are seeing now in Wokeism, which is an attempt to break with the past entirely. The only difference is that in Mao’s China, the violence of the movement was unconstrained. The Cultural Revolution was a success for Mao and he was returned to power.
Mao used the Cultural Revolution to consolidate his leadership, and nobody was to ever challenge him again. Following his death in 1976, after a brief interregnum, Deng Xiaoping was to emerge as the new leader of the CCP (1978). This was the period in which China was opening up to the world, and where there was growing optimism about China liberalising. Any reasonable illusions that this was the case should have been shattered with the Tiananmen Square Massacre (1989). This was an event in which pro-democracy protestors were butchered by the People’s Liberation Army. Although the Tiananmen Square massacre is well-known, what is not generally known is that the pro-democracy protests took place all over China. As they were largely out of sight of foreign media, little is know about their ending, but it is likely they were similarly repressed.
Despite the massacre, illusions that China would somehow liberalise were to continue. This was despite the fact that China, during the entire period since Mao’s death has continued to operate as a totalitarian police state. This was always the reality of life in China. This means no civil rights whatsoever (interestingly, this goes against the Chinese constitution). To put it into practical terms, from my own experience in China, I witnessed some peasant farmers protesting the theft of their land by corrupt officials. I was surprised to see the protest but was less surprised when some goons showed up and forced them into the back of a van. In another case, I know of personally, a family I knew broke China’s one-child policy, and the mother was dragged off to hospital and was forcibly sterilised. The government also stole all of the family’s belongings as a “fine”, then repeated the theft a year later.
The point is this. The murder, torture, oppression, and imprisonment never went away. It is only recently that the concerns about China’s regime have returned, and those concerns include organ harvesting of political prisoners, the genocide of the Uighur people, and the development of the most sophisticated police state in history. These are the headlines but there is much routine oppression that garners far less attention, and that has always been there.
The Wake Up Comes Too Late
The CCP has always been a vile regime. It never stopped its repression, torture, murder and violence. Never. Despite this, the West has foolishly engaged with the regime. The upside of this has been the uplift of most of the Chinese population from the abject poverty that resulted from Maoism. This is a great achievement but it is not an achievement of the CCP, but an achievement of the rest of the industrialised world. The problem comes when we see where that achievement now leaves us. One of the most brutal, totalitarian, and evil regimes in history now has a massive modern industrial base, and a huge population, many of whom have been indoctrinated into a fanatical racist nationalism.
Mao had sought leadership of the communist revolution and sought to spread the revolution throughout the world. Mao was a nationalist, a militarist, and an expansionist (e.g. Tibet), and sought to make China dominant. In the case of Mao, he had a dirt poor economy, lack of technology, and thus his ambitions were limited by practicality. President Xi is often portrayed as some kind of break from the past. He is not. He is following the same path as Mao, but with a functional economic and technological system in place.
As for the earlier leaders, like Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, I have no reason to believe they were any different. I believe that they just played a patient waiting game, allowing the West and other advanced economies into China to provide them with the technological and industrial capability to match their adversaries. In 2008 I stood on the balcony of my apartment in Xi’an with a Belgian friend and wondered how long it would be before a war with China might commence. I said at the time, I had a horrible picture of bombs raining down on the city in front of me. At the time, I estimated about 10-15 years before China would be powerful enough to start a war.
Even now, there are plenty of apologists for China. Those who are just plain corrupt, and those who are corrupted by access to the Chinese markets.
In engaging with China under the CCP, we may well have written the longest suicide note in history, literally empowering an evil regime to turn all of our own strengths against us. I still hope it is not too late to confront the threat from China, but it is time to wake up and accept exactly what it is that we are confronting and ally together to face the threat. Time is running out. We need to rearm and face China down. And as for the apologists for China, they also need to wake up and take a close look at who they are offering apologetics for. They need to read some history.
1He used to be called Mao Tse-tung, which I believe was the Wade-Giles system name for him.