I grew up during Mao’s regime. In 1949, Mao Zedong, or Chairman Mao, brought the Communist regime to power in China. As a leader of communism, Mao was often ranked after Karl Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. During the first decade of the regime, Mao launched several political movements to take away people’s properties such as land, houses, and businesses.
Mao and his party caused a three-year famine; millions of Chinese starved to death. Mao claimed that it was a natural disaster, but the reality was that because of his big ego, Mao decided to pay his party’s debt to the former Soviet Union at any cost. To prove his total control over the whole Chinese population and the independence of China, he rejected humanitarian assistance from the Western countries.
Only Vegetable in Winter
Like many children, my brother and I had a sweet tooth, loved sweet stuff like candies. My mother invariably said that we did not “need” any candy, as we were “privileged” enough to be fed with three meals a day. Breakfast and supper were corn porridge – one cup of corn flour diluted in a large pot of boiling water – for four people: my parents, my brother, and me. Our lunch was more solid – a steamed bun (i.e., wheat or corn flour mixed with water and steamed) with one vegetable dish. Our good days were when we could have little pork or scrambled eggs in the vegetable dish.
In Beijing, every household stored hundreds of pounds of Chinese cabbage at the beginning of November for the whole winter. From November to March next year, the only vegetable served for lunch and dinner was Chinese cabbage. My mother said that we were not poor, as we had Chinese cabbage. Many of her colleagues’ children had to scavenge for abandoned cabbage leaves from trash cans.
When I was a teenager, my skin did not have a healthy color, mostly because of malnutrition. However, my mother had her own explanation. She told me that my skin would have looked better if she had been able to eat more apples during her pregnancy. Before I was born, China produced a lot of apples, but Mao ordered to use apples to pay the debts that China owed the former Soviet Union. My mother wanted to eat apples and believed that apples would benefit her baby, but there were no apples at all for the population.
In 1966, Mao started the chaotic and brutal cultural revolution. The main goal of the revolution was to deny and cancel our history, our valuable heritage (such as honesty, integrity, diligence), and our traditional culture. During the cultural revolution, Mao and his party “worshipped” poverty.
“The poorer you are, the more glorified you are!” It was a popular slogan during the Chinese cultural revolution. Young people from the cities were sent to poor rural areas for “reeducation.” Intellectuals, such as teachers, professors, engineers, and scientists, were relocated to the poorest villages to work as farmers. The Communist Party halted market-driven economy and production, and created poverty for the whole Chinese population. In the Communist China, poverty and food shortages have always been man-made catastrophes.
Controlled by a Corrupt “Elite” of CCP members
Mao died in 1976, which marked the end of the crazy Cultural Revolution. Then, Deng Xiaoping, another Chinese Communist leader, decided to wage a war on poverty. “Let a small portion of our population become rich first!” This was an updated slogan from the Chinese Communist Party in the late 1980s and 1990s. In the end, many corrupt Communist Party officials became a small elite of rich people.
The 1989 student movement represented the desire of the Chinese people for democracy and freedom. As the world knows, the movement ended with tanks and military repression. Instead of moving towards a full-scale democratic society and market-driven economy, the Communist Party maintained the one-party rule. Dictatorship has never left China.
Poverty Remains after Killing Millions of Babies
Since the late 1970s, the Communist leaders advanced the propaganda that population overgrowth was the root cause of poverty. The notorious Chinese one-child policy killed millions of babies. Millions of parents were forced to abort or get sterilized. “For China’s leaders, the controls were a triumphant demonstration of the party’s capacity to reshape even the most intimate dimensions of citizens’ lives.”
In 2015, driven by fears that a growing aging population could jeopardize China’s economic ascent, the Communist Party leadership ended its decades-old “one child” policy, announcing that all married couples would be allowed to have two children. In 2021, the Chinese authorities announced that it would allow couples to have up to three children, after census data showed a steep decline in birth rates. Another disaster made by the Communist Party!
The efforts to limit family size not only caused many family tragedies and led to a skewed sex ratio of males to females, because traditional rural families favor boys over girls, sometimes even resorting to infanticide to ensure they have a son, but also created long-term problems in terms of human sustainability. Worst of all, after decades of forced abortions and crippling fines, the country has not gotten rid of poverty.
A recent report from the Beijing Normal University shows that in China 942 million people, about two thirds of the population, live on a monthly income of less than 2,000 yuan (approximately $314). In a town in Guangdong Province, a couple could not afford to pay 1,500 yuan ($236) medical bills for their children, and the whole family walked on the street naked, hoping to draw attention and get help.
When the foreign media echo the propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party and praise China for “lifting one billion people out of poverty,” a key question should be asked: Who is responsible for causing the Chinese to be poor, and Why, after 73 years of Communist rule, doe the vast majority of Chinese still live in poverty?