Mao Ze Dong persecution of own people
Also the influence he had on decision making and to what extent he was personally responsible for the death of so many people. Chairman Mao Zedong has become one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, from his early political career in creating the Chinese communist party to the creation of the Peoples Republic of China and the many policies he passed while as head of state.
During the Chinese civil war is where Mao first found a power base.
In the Jinggang Mountains Jiangxi created the Workers and Peasants Red Army of China (also known as the red army).
This is also where Mao first encountered his political opponents who were against his land proposals and other army branch reforms.
To this opposition Mao responded by accusing these opponents of opportunism which was swiftly followed by their silencing.
During this first ˜purge™ estimated about several thousand were victims and the total number could be beyond 100,000.
This first example of persecution against a group of people by Mao supports the argument of Mao own paranoia and self interest of securing power by the lengths he is willing to go to as seen here.
It also shows Mao influence over the CPC (Chinese communist party) in their participation of following Mao orders.
According to Jung Chang and Jon Halliday victims of Mao torture were forced to give names and victims were subjected to red hot gun rods being rammed into their anus and many cases cutting up their stomachs and taking out the heart.
This account further supports Mao reasonability as he had a man named Lie Shau-joe to run the purge for him.
Lie started off only by arresting a few people at first and using torture to get names from the victims.
This in turn led to more arrest and more torture.
There was no evidence at all presented.
They were arrested, tortured and forced to admit œyou have AB among you.
Mao argued that if the victims were not able to stand torture would make false confessions to escape the torture (although none did as they were killed) that this turn proved that they were guilty.
He said œHow could loyal revolutionaries possibly make false confessions to incriminate other comrades? Although it could be debated if Mao personally ordered the arrests and torture of these people as he left Lie to do the purge, the fact that Mao did not seem to care by the total disregard for this persecution and crimes against humanity and even defended it shows how happy he is with the methods used to conduct ˜business™ in his party. Going back to the question, is it fair to solely blame these instances of persecution so far on Mao? Or that he influenced them? There is argument to place blame on Mao influence but his followers were quite willing to carry out his purges and policies as well.
Although how ˜willing™ is different, as you have to take in account if Maos™ followers were carrying out such atrocities because they believed in Mao and Maoism or out of fear of Mao and that they too could end up tortured, killed and/or sent to one of the many labour camps which were as bad as Soviet Gulags if not worse.
Also to take into account if Mao followers were only being loyal and carrying out his will to further there own gains, personally and politically.
Regardless of Mao followers reasons it highlights how Mao influence effects there thinking and decisions. With the civil war coming to a close in May 1948 Mao moved on Changchun in Manchuria and ordered the city to be blockaded as there was only enough food up until July.
This tactic was employed to starve the population and to get the enemy commander General Cheung Tung-kno to surrender.
Civilians were barred from leaving; people with useful items such as weapons and ammunition were allowed to leave.
This encouraged nationalist forces to defect to the Red Army while the cities populous starved.
When civilians did leave the city and tried to leave and were stopped by the Red Army, they were encouraged to go back while others begged and pleaded to leave.
Others hanged themselves or left their babies and went back into the city.
Seeing this some soldiers sympathized with the civilians while others let them pass, although this eventually was found out and corrected.
Lin who was the commander of the Red Army for the city blockade also noted how some soldiers would beat up and abuse the refugees and to go as far as shooting them to keep them back.
Lin himself recommended to Mao to let the refuges go as presumably he realised the audacity of the situation, his concern fell on death ears as Mao did not respond.
Lin himself decided then on 11th of September to release the refugees but his orders were not carried out as Mao already had ordered his troops not to following Lin concern and overriding his authority on the siege.
According to communist general Su Yu this tactic was used in œquite a few cities to force defending troops to surrender. This siege is a prime example of how great Mao influence and power is especially over the younger and common elements such as a conscript in the Red Army.
While the Red army continued to block refugees even though Lin had ordered it to be stopped.
While some did sympathised many did not and carried on the blockade.
This shows that while not all but a large amount of follows loyal to Mao believed he was right even when they were committing immoral acts in his name. With the creation of the Peoples Republic of China on October 1st 1949 one of the first acts by the communist party was to seize control over the media and was used to promote the image of Mao and the communist party.
With Mao now being appointed Chairman, his first policies were land reform and the suppression which involved mass public executions of so called counter revolutionaries which were but not restricted to businessmen, former Kuomintang officials and intellects whose loyalty came under suspect.
During the land reforms land was taken from landowners and given to the peasants.
Not only was their land taken, they were usually executed on the spot and so was any one who sympathized.
Mao wanted at least one person in every village killed, if no landowner was found then the rich would take their place.
During Mao land reforms about 5 to 10 million people were killed with at least 4 million of them being landowners.
In addition to the deaths over one million were sent to labour camps to ˜reform™ where undoubtedly they died later on from being worked to death.
Mao defended his reforms and killings being necessary for securing power.
This can be interpreted as the first steps to consolidating and solidifying ones power and position as with any dictator.
Once power had been obtained Mao then dictated his version of communism, in this case Maoism, which led to the death of millions.
Now with the communist party and Mao in total control over the China media Mao power base and influence was even growing, now that he is already dictating his Maoism. In 1956 to 1957 Mao found the idea of having intellectuals discuss the countries problems have debates interesting.
He approved Premier Zhou Enlai to lead it which was called the hundred flowers campaign.
At first the campaign began slow with not many intellects taking part as only minor issues were being discussed and were unimportant to the country to be critical of.
Zhou Enlai got Mao to voice more support and Mao encouraged the intellects to be critical as long as it was constructive and moving into a positive direction.
From Mao support of preferred criticism and by July 1957 millions of letters were pouring into Zhou office.
The intellects began criticising the CCP openly.
Rallies were held, posters were put up and meetings with CCP members.
To Mao these letters were not healthy criticism but dangerous and harmful to Mao and the communist party.
Following this the campaign was stopped Mao then began to imprison, torture and/or killed.
These new waves of ˜opposition™ to Mao left around 600,000 victims and were labelled as rightists.
Some historians such as Jung Chang support the view that the hundred flowers campaign was entrapment and a ruse to identified dissidents in government and society as a treat to Mao and to socialism before systematically eliminating or imprisonment.
While others claim he did not expect the overwhelming criticism which was mostly directed at his leadership rather than the communist party which being a dictator could not allow to go unpunished.
Although it can be debated behind the real reasons behind the campaign, the after effect would ultimately discourage the intellects from criticising Mao and his government in the future. Mao in 1958 launched the Great Leap Forward which was an economic plan which would differ from the soviet model and take China into a different direction.
The idea was to focus on industry as well as agriculture to run parallel to each other.
In the country side peasants were organised into large communes where they would work on agriculture and also some light industry.
At first it seemed Mao great leap was working with steel output increasing by 45% and a good harvest.
Just as things started to seem good, the famine kicked in, caused my poor conditions of the communes peasants were forced to live and work in.
Also a lot of grain was being left to rot as it could not be collected fast and efficiently combined with locust swarms led the famine.
During the famine local officials were under a lot of pressure from the government to produce the required quota, but because of the famine could not meet the needs of the states.
Officials knew they could be blamed for the failure and possibly tortured and killed.
To escape this fate they often reported more than that was actually being harvest.
This was also a contributing factor to the famine as central government believed it, by the time Mao found out how serious the famine had become he still carried on with its grain exports regardless of the fact that people were starving to death by the millions.
Due to Mao ˜Great Leap™ it became know to be the worse famine in human history with estimates of up to and over 30 million people dead.
Mao also had the chance to do something about the problem but for his own image on the international scene covered up the famine.
While most countries outside of China minus the USSR knew little about the famine while Mao managed to convince the rest of the world that there was no famine he continued with the grain exports.
This is further contributing to why Mao is solely responsibly for most if not all the past persecutions that happened under his regime whenever it was through ignorance as seen in the famine or purges designed to eliminate opponents. The Great Leap was seen as a domestic failure; as such Mao stepped down as states chairmen fearing he would take solo responsibly for the failure.
The national defence minister Peng Dehaui was openly critical of Mao for his Great Leap.
Not too long after this Peng was ˜removed™ and replaced by Lin Biao.
With the famine over in 1962, up until 1966 Mao political power was weaving in CPC mostly attributed by his Great Leap failure.
Between the years of 1962 and 1966 Mao was very rarely seen in public and played upon his cult of personality.
In May 1966 Mao launched the Cultural Revolution calling upon young people to rid China of the old ways: culture, arts, clothing anything that seemed pre 1949.
As a result a lot of ancient Chinese culture was destroyed.
Mao organised the mobs into what was known as the Red Guards, who often were teenagers.
Millions of young people joined the Red Guard and more often than not formed there own Red Guard gangs that often fought with each other.
Up until 1969 when Mao officially declared the Revolution over after three years of anarchy.
Although the official ending of the Revolution was made the communist party after Mao had died in 1976.
During this period up to 30 million people have thought to have been persecuted with up to 3 million estimated to have died.
Although more people died in the Famine, the Revolution could be seen as interpretation of Mao actual power and influence over the people and not just his party.
Fearing his own power was influx and the thought of others in the CPC of gaining more power and making Mao just a figurehead for the state instead of general policy making.
Mao was able to through the country into anarchy and keep his position up until his death. To conclude we can assign responsibility to Mao for cases of persecution that happened under him.
From his early days as a revolutionary where other military revolutionists threatened his power base up until Cultural revolution where Mao saw himself as the enemy of landowners, businessmen and the West.
While there is strong evidence to support the argument for Mao involvement there is little counter this.
On many occasions he publicly said it was necessary.
On one occasion Mao said œPeople who try to commit suicide, don't attempt to save them.
China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people People committed suicide during the Cultural revolution.
This supports Mao total lack of respect for human life and how willing he is to dispense with his own population to future his own goals.