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PostVisiting Mao's Tomb (Istvan Simon, USA, 11/03/17 6:45 am)
I enjoyed Ric Mauricio's list (30 October) of genocidal maniacs of the 20th century, a terrible century by any human standards.
Though I believe some of Ric's numbers may be a bit on the higher end of the true figure, his general ideas are absolutely right. He forgot Pol Pot, Idi Amin Dada, the Rwanda horrors, the Ibos in Nigeria, the current terrible persecution of Rohynga, the horror story and terrible tragedy of the Yazidis whose persecution by ISIS, but also previously by Iraq's Sunnis, should weigh on any decent person's conscience. Though their numbers may be small because their overall numbers are small, yet percent-wise this qualifies as a terrible genocide.
Regarding the arch murderer Mao Zedong, I may have already mentioned in WAIS my experience in 2004, but perhaps it is worth repeating.
I went to see Mao's rotten corpse in his Mausoleum on Tiananmen square. The Mausoleum itself sticks out as an ugly sore thumb and an intrusion on the beautiful buildings on this immense square in Beijing. I went to see the Chairman not because of any morbid interest on his rotten corpse, but to observe the people, and how they would react to this terrible murderer. I had a fanny pack that I had to leave behind with my wife, for obviously the Chinese authorities are afraid that someone will blow this arch murderer to smithereens. There is a kind of marked path on the pavement, where people can walk to their encounter with the Chairman in rows of four people. When one enters the complex, there is a place to buy flowers. First observation post for me of the people. About half of them bought flowers. One man, was trying to be nice to me and he bought two bunches of white flowers, and offered one to me. It was a nice gesture, and I felt bad that I had to refuse it, because under no circumstances I would ever put flowers on this mass murderer's site, so though I felt bad for having to refuse such a nice and undoubtedly friendly gesture, I did refuse it. One continues to the next stop, which is an immense counter where the people deposit the flowers in front of a giant statue of the mass murderer. Then the people are divided in two rows to file past the corpse in a glass casket, and immediately they are ushered out between 2 machine-gun armed soldiers back to Tiananmen square.
Later when we traveled back to Nanning and I resumed my daily routine of walking a 6-mile circuit from our apartment to a park and back every early morning, I met many of the regulars who also exercised in the park. They greeted me with glee, and one that spoke English much better than the others asked me where had I been. I told him we were in Beijing and that I had visited the Mausoleum of Mao. He contorted his face, and said to me "a terrible man, a Saddam Hussein."
A few days later, in the same park, I was approached by a man holding the hand of his 2-year-old little son. He was an economist and we started to chat. At one point he looked at his son sadly and movingly said: "I'd like him to grow up in a free country." I said I thought he would grow up in a free country. He asked why I thought so. I said, look at the tremendous progress that has been made since Mao's time. He said, yes true, but the same way the government gave these freedoms, they can take them away. I said I did not think that would happen.
He asked why I thought so. I said for 2 reasons: as the economy grows and diversifies, to continue the economic progress would require the government to grant more and more freedoms; and the second reason was the Internet. The Internet cannot be successfully censored, and so it would become kind of like the free press in China. He looked at me admiringly and said: China needs people like you who can think. I thanked him for his compliment and we parted. That young boy should be now 15 years old, and I am sorry to say that he is growing up in a country no freer today than in 2004. I had grossly under-estimated the time it would take for China to become a multi-party democratic society. In spite of the fact that the two reasons I gave were both correct, even if Beijing tries to censor the Internet, it is truly unable to do so very effectively, just as I predicted that it would not. But the Communist Party is still entrenched as ever before on maintaining by hook or crook its monopoly grip on power.
JE comments: I do not recall Istvan Simon telling us this story before. But even if he did, it deserves a replay.
What can our China-watchers tell us about the recently concluded Party Congress?