Sunday, May 23, 2010

Out of Mao's Shadow - Phillip P. Pan

This is one of the best books about China that I've read.

Recomended with Five Stars *****

Huge China, with such an unbelievable number of citizens is, to this day, both a mystery and puzzle. One wonders from the start, how rural peasants were attracted to communism in the first place. The book begins with Tianamen Square and quickly moves backward to 1989 when so many young people converged in protest of the corruption within the Communist government. The brutal release of military might resulted in the massacre of  students (and other protesters) at Tianamen Square. The  government made a terrible mistake when they unleashed the military -  and it has haunted them ever since. The author suggests an explanation - and then concludes by agreeing that the government was wrong.  

Out of Mao's Shadow informs the reader of the period from the beginning of the Chinese Communist Party to the present,  illustrating how it took over and became the one and only political party. And how it's leaders have used fear and cruelty to rule the masses of the Chinese people. It has not ever been a successful government. Since it gained  dominance over the Nationalist party to the day Mao Tse Tung died, was a ruthless government that rewarded it's elites and encouraged corruption. The economic progress after Mao's death has been astoundingly successful. The Chinese Communist Party has been steadily changing.  To experience the rapid progress has required the party to join the free market capitalism of the modern economic world. Only by doing so can they sustain the present day astonishing economic growth. The government has it's hands full trying to manage the growth. And China, overall, remains plagued with terrible living conditions and desperate poverty. China has not been able to remedy it's many labor abuses, and corruption of political functionaries is still an uncontrolled reality. 

Finally, the all-powerful government still controls much of Chinese life. It is gradually opening up, but the process isn't easy for them. The government is stressed.



The Great Leap Forward (Began 1958) "...some thirty million people - and perhaps as many as fifty million - starved to death as a result. 

Anti-Rightist Campaign (Began 1957) " many as six million people perished."

The Cultural Revolution (Began 1966) "...36 million people were persecuted" and "...1,500,000 people were killed." " Shanghai there were 5,000 people killed." "In Daoxian county in Hunan Province, 5,000 people were killed."

Famine. (1957) " least ten million people had died in all of Sichuan Province between 1957 and 1960."

Chinese Communism. (Began 1949) "...since the economic reforms began two decades ago, mining accidents take the lives of 10,000 to 40,000 coal miners annually."

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