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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 24. 26th September 1973

Myths about Mao

Myths about Mao

Dear Sir,

From what I've heard and read from the students who toured China, I can see that there is much to be admired in that country.

However, the popular support for Mao's government, the fantastic rate of economic growth and the rise in standard living and social services does in fact, hide that quality which is most objectionable in any society. I am speaking about social manipulation by those in power through the outlawing of any really challenging criticism of the dominant regime.

The 'Hundred Flowers' campaign in 1957 began as an invitation for critics to speak their minds. However, only three months after its introduction a violent campaign was initiated against those who offered criticism. The critics were made to 'confess'. Accusation and abuse was hurled at them. During the earlier land reform campaign Mao Himself says about half a million people were killed, while other estimates have the figure much higher.

The Cultural Revolution was begun at a time when Mao faced major opposition. It was accordingly a very disruptive period. Reports have it that 2000 people at the Peking University committed suicide. Public beatings were seen in the streets by foreigners. Only those who adhered to the 'correct thought" proposed by Mao could be at ease.

It is seen from articles in Chinese papers that the intellectuals, those who are accustomed to thinking for themselves, have proved more resistant to Communism than other groups. So education institutions were prime targets during the cultural revolution.

Mao may be right in wanting society to be uniform to more quickly overcome the nation's great difficulties but the methods used are often outrageous in anybody's language.

The Chinese Communist Party was established at Peking University in 1921 setting up a whole reform movement. That Mao prevents similar bodies today can only be to the detriment of China. Surely we do not have such naivety to hold the most perfect form of human government has been achieved in Mao's form of communism?

Yours sincerely,

Clive Thorpe.