December 26, 2013 marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, the communist dictator who was perhaps responsible for more deaths than any other contemporary or historical figure. Nevertheless, upcoming celebrations honoring Mao’s life are planned to take place throughout China. As part of the festivities, on October 14th, officials from Mao’s hometown announced the completion of a 1.9 billion RMB ($310 million) project to commemorate Mao’s birth. This past January, President Xi Jinping declared that no one should doubt the veracity of Mao’s achievements. On November 8, the Party’s official newspaper, the People’s Daily, published an article explaining Xi’s theory of “the two points that cannot be negated." The theory argued that Mao’s “legacy” cannot be tarnished because it would sow the seeds of the Party’s own destruction and negating events like the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, two projects that largely define Mao’s legacy, “will certainly lead to extremely serious political consequences.”
As we all know in the West, the Great Leap Forward resulted in 30 to 45 million deaths. The Cultural Revolution, another Party campaign, resulted in the violent persecution of untold millions and tens of thousands of executions. The underlying circumstances and driving purposes of these two travesties were vastly different, but both resulted in unfathomable human suffering. Human rights abuses during these campaigns included arbitrary imprisonment, beatings, torture, rape, sustained harassment, seizure of property, denial of medical attention, and deprivation of food. The worst of all was cannibalism. In both campaigns, well-documented official records have shown that cannibalism was rampant.
The new leadership under Xi not only continues to promote Maoist ideology, but also actively downplays the atrocities Mao committed through concealing historical records, distorting facts and suppressing the spread of relevant information, viewing exposure of historical realities as a threat to regime survival.
It is the duty of those who are aware of the atrocities, especially those who are in a country where the freedom of speech is guaranteed, to uncover and record the truth.