May 4, 2021 | By Yi Ran
History as a fait accompli is something we can only learn from, but not alter. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), however, has been altering history to its own advantage since it took power in 1949. The Chinese civilization dates back at least 5,000 years, so the history of China is not the same as the brief history of the CCP, which is a fact that the CCP is unable to change.
The CCP, though, has never stopped attempting to rewrite history in order to brainwash the Chinese people, especially the younger generations, with the communism ideology, to strike fear in their minds and strengthen its totalitarian rule. The latest revision to the CCP’s history, including removing political movement tragedies and whitewashing the Cultural Revolution from its history books, is one such example.
According to Sing Tao Daily and other news media, the most recent version of the History of the Chinese Communist Party released this February has eliminated contents such as zhengfeng (or “rectification” targeting people with different opinions than the CCP), fanyou (Anti-Rightist), Great Leap Forward, and people’s commune. The damage of the Cultural Revolution was also brushed off, and the resulting havoc was claimed as an initiative to oppose corruption and elite groups.
In this article, we will look into this topic and explain why such a narrative is misleading. In fact, the Cultural Revolution was a catastrophe, both culturally and politically. It fostered corruption and the CCP’s elite class, which continues to exploit Chinese people to this day.
Unprecedented Cultural Catastrophe
China has a long history of about 5,000 years, and Beijing was the capital of several dynasties. But an initiative known the “Destroy the Four Olds” (Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Customs) was launched in Beijing at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966. Led by extreme students known as Red Guards, it was essentially a mess of destroying heritage sites, objects, beating people, and ransacking homes. It soon spread to the entirety of China and caused immeasurable losses.
Over 114,000 households in Beijing were ransacked at the time, including 1,061 in Fusuijing Residential District alone. Robbed books, artworks, and archaeological objects were burned for eight days. More than 2.35 million ancient books, along with nearly 4 million calligraphy and artworks, and antique furniture were confiscated in Beijing alone. Many artworks in the Summer Palace, an invaluable imperial garden of the Qing Dynasty, were also destroyed.
Similar things happened in Shanghai and other cities. A 7-foot tall Buddha statue along with about 1,000 small statues in renowned Longhua Temple were smashed into pieces. A statue even had its head chopped off. But the CCP officials simply shrugged it off. “Households of 100,000 capitalists were ransacked [in Shanghai],” commented then premier Zhou Enlai, implying that these enemies-of-the-state deserved such treatment.
Across China, about ten million such households were ransacked. Countless tragedies happened to historical sites throughout China, and numerous scholars, celebrities, and ordinary citizens were targeted, and some even killed.
A well-known writer named Qin Mu once said, “This is an unprecedented catastrophe. Millions of people were targeted and died, numerous families were broken apart with youths turning into hooligans, countless books were burned, and historical sites were ruined. Even graves of ancestors were dug up and so many crimes had been carried out in the name of revolution.”
But such killings, arsons, looting, robberies, and damage to history and culture is now labeled by the CCP as an anti-corruption campaign.
Officials Embezzling Cultural Relics
As usual, in the name of “Destroy the Four Olds,” the Cultural Revolution became a venue for top CCP officials to amass wealth for themselves. They included Chen Boda, Jiang Qing, Kang Sheng, and others. This was not a secret among CCP high-ranking officials, but very few ordinary citizens, especially from the younger generations, are aware of this.
Jiang Qing, the last wife of Mao Zedong, and Kang Sheng, then Vice Chairman of the CCP’s Central Committee, went “shopping” at Beijing Cultural Relics Management Office in 1970. Jiang picked an 18K French pocket watch decorated with nearly 100 pearls and gems, along with four gold chains. Jiang paid only 7 yuan for the watch.
After Kang died in 1975 and the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, an internal “exhibition” was held in the Summer Palace in the 1990s to display about 1,000 relics taken by Kang. They included 3,000-year-old bronze items, a 2,000-year-old seal of Han Dynasty general Han Xin, the earliest manuscript of Hong Long Meng (Dream of the Red Chamber), and the seal of great ancient Zheng Baiqiao. Kang also stamped his own seal on some relics from the Tang Dynasty to show their “ownership.”
After the Cultural Revolution ended, the Ministry of Culture decided to return some items confiscated from painter Ye Qianyu. But some of them were “irretrievable” because they had been taken away by top CCP officials. The ministry only provided the following list to Ye: Chen Boda (9 items), Lin Biao (11 items), the couple of Kang Sheng (8 items), Jiang Qing (3 items), and others.
The Red Guards also collected fortunes during the cultural revolution. Writer Feng Jicai once interviewed a Red Guard member who once had an audience with Mao Zedong at Tiananmen Square in autumn 1966. After the event, there were many pieces of gold bars scattered on the ground. According to the Red Guard member, he and others often took valuables such as gold bars or pieces of gold when ransacking the wealthy. As the frantic crowds jumped wildly in Mao’s presence, some of these “trophies” they collected simply slipped out of their pockets…
Mao: The Root of Corruption
Once upon a time in China, almost everyone owned a copy of Mao’s works, plus the Little Red Book. Few people know that Mao was paid royalties for the book. An article showed that Mao was paid about 5.7 million yuan of royalties in 1967, enough to make him the richest person in China at the time.
When overseas Chinese economist Mao Yushi wrote articles in 2011 to condemn Mao Zedong’s dictatorship and corrupt life, some argued that there was no corruption during Mao’s era. But for people who know the history, this is simply not true.
Journalist writer Wang Shiwei noticed Mao Zedong’s taste for beautiful women and privilege of CCP officials while still in Yan’an (a prefecture-level city in the Shanbei region of Shaanxi province, where the CCP was based before it took power in 1949). “There are three levels of clothing and five levels of food,” he wrote in “Wild Lilies” in 1942. In the same article, he also wrote about how the CCP officials indulged themselves in singing, dancing, and women. Within several months, he was criticized and later executed.
Jung Chang, a Chinese-born British writer, also documented this in Mao: The Unknown Story. Even back in Yan’an, Mao asked Ding Ling, a female imperial literati, to compile a list of the beautiful young women in the area so that he could assign them titles as imperial concubines. Even during the Great Chinese Famine between 1959 and 1961, Mao built many luxury palaces across China. Peng Dehuai, one of the most accomplished CCP generals and first Minister of National Defense, was taken down for criticizing Mao’s corrupt lifestyle and later died in prison.
Zhang Yaoci, an officer in charge of Mao’s body guards, also explained Mao’s special life. Even when mending a shirt button, he would get it done by the Jinjiang Hotel in Shanghai. That meant a designated person would transport it using a special plane, and it was also picked up later by a special plane… Furthermore, Mao preferred to eat fish from Wuchang in Hubei Province, Qiantangjiang from Zhejiang Province, and Taihu from Zhejiang Province. These were delivered to him using special planes.
The corruption started from the top and the core, and became more rampant over time. Similarly, other officials also had enjoyed a luxurious life using public funds.
Some news media in Hong Kong had reported on the mansion owned by Kang Sheng and his wife Cao Yi’ou. It has exquisite structures, and a total of 39 rooms. Other high officials of the CCP also had special privileges including secret service, office apartments, devices, furniture, cars, special brand cigarettes and wine, daily articles, and childrens’ education. All these were special services provided at no cost since 1950 to central CCP officials and their families. The Bayi School, National Day School, Jingshan School, 101 Middle School, and some others all belong to this category with special staff and top-tier resources. These were all specified by the CCP policies. It was corruption in broad daylight.
During those days, ordinary citizens had to study Mao’s writings and treat them as scripture; otherwise, they would be targeted as anti-CCP. In the meantime, the central CCP officials enjoyed corrupt lifestyles that they had vowed to “eradicate.” For example, Mao recommended Jin Ping Mei, a top obscene book in Chinese history, to all province-level officials in the name of “studying” how women were “mistreated” in the past.
Large-Scale Corruption During the Cultural Revolution
Renowned scholar Yi Zhongtian said that the large scale corruption started during the Cultural Revolution. “At that time, people in the city had to give a cigarette to buy ribs (controlled merchandise) for cooking, and peasants had to give eggs to enter the city,” he wrote, “Those youths sent to the remote regions were even worse – a man had to offer bribery and a woman had to offer her body.”
Liu Binyan, author and journalist, had exposed major bribery in his 1978 article “People or Monsters.” One example given was Wang Shouxin, director and a Party secretary of a county utility company in Heilongjiang Province, who had embezzled over 500,000 yuan between November 1971 and June 1978. The purchase power of that money at the time probably equates to over 10 million yuan (or $1.5 million) today.
After the Cultural Revolution, the CCP started a planned economy until the early 1990s. During that time, the resources were centralized and ordinary citizens had to offer a bribe for almost everything. For example, with hardly any certified doctors, they had to seek medical services from unofficial barefoot doctors. Although free on the surface, one needed to prepare good food and probably a gift for the service. Youth sent down to the countryside had to bribe the village Party secretary for a temporary teaching position or give more to return to the city.
Zhouhoumen (get in through the back door) has been a norm since the Cultural Revolution. With CCP officials holding the power, ordinary citizens had to offer bribery for joining the army, entering college, finding a job, retiring earlier due to poor health, or returning to the city. Even watching a movie, buying a bike, or obtaining rationed goods could require using a back door. Officials and their families had all the privileges, but ordinary people did not.
As usual, such a situation was ignored by the CCP. “There are good people getting in through the back door, and there are bad people getting in through the front door,” Mao wrote in this order for a green light on this situation.
Such a chaotic era created all kinds of strange situations and people. Li Qinglin, a teacher in Fujian Province, wrote to Mao in 1972 complaining that some youth needed to get things done through the back door. Somehow, Mao replied and sent him 300 yuan.
Flattered by such an “imperial” honor, Li became famous overnight, and even top CCP officials began to please him because of his connection with Mao. This later led to his imprisonment in 1977 as a result of infighting within the CCP when Deng Xiaoping came to power.
A Sinking Ship
Bao Tong, secretary of former premier Zhao Ziyang, once commented that the CCP was a completely privileged class.
This was ironic because from Karl Marx to the CCP, communists had always advocated class struggle to liberate the poor by destroying the top class. Once in power, however, it grasped the power tightly and did not allow differing voices.
Chen Yun, the second most powerful CCP official in the 1980s and 1990s after Deng Xiaoping, proposed after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre that each red family would have at least two children, one involved in politics (to control power) and another doing business (to accumulate fortune). Deng endorsed this and it became a policy since then.
According to news from Forbes in April 2021, Beijing has become a top city with the highest number of billionaires, 100 in total. But there are many more members of the elite class who have accumulated immeasurable fortunes, yet they are excluded from the list.
Some information has leaked from scandals from time to time. Lai Xiaomin, Party secretary and chairman of the board for Huarong Asset Management, was found to be keeping 270 million yuan (or $42 million) in cash gained from bribery at home. Ren Shifeng, a village official in Beijing owned 31 kilos of gold bars. Xu Changyuan, a district Party secretary from Dalian City, Liaoning Province, had 2,714 apartments in his name.
According to the Hurun wealth report, among representatives of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the richest 83 individuals have an average asset value of $335 million. In contrast, the Centre for Responsive Politics shows the wealthiest U.S. Congress members have an average asset value of only $5.64 million. While 600 million Chinese citizens have monthly incomes of less than 1,000 yuan (about $154), China’s wealthiest legislators have 60 times more assets than their counterparts in the U.S.
Another interesting situation is that CCP officials know that maintaining their privileged class in China –at the price of harsh suppression, resource depletion, and moral degeneration – is not sustainable. That is why many officials and their families have emigrated overseas, planning to jump off the “sinking ship” at any time.
CCP Core Doctrine: From Violence Before Taking Power to Cultural Revolution Tragedy
About the nature of the Cultural Revolution, Chinese-Australian economist Yang Xiaokai said it was consistent with the CCP’s track record of brutality. “The tragedies during the Cultural Revolution – such a rioting of the Red Guards, Dao County Massacre, and the Guangxi Massacre – are essentially the same as atrocities during the land reformations in the early 1950s,” he wrote.
“The CCP’s Party history is always a mixture of facts and lies, dominated by the latter,” he continued, “If you want to know the real history, you have to start with books banned by the CCP or climb over the firewall for overseas information.”
This is part of a big picture of the CCP’s core ideology of class struggle, hatred, and destruction of traditional values. If this continues, it will fundamentally undermine Chinese people and their futures.
The CCP is currently focusing on covering up its bloody history to tighten its control and deceive the people. Since early 2019, the CCP has also mandated that CCP officials install Xuexi Qiangguo, an app that keeps track of CCP officials’ study of the current CCP lecture speeches.
Despite all these attempts, the collapse of the CCP is merely a matter of time. As Karl Marx described in the Communist Manifesto, “A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism.” Now the specter has harmed the Soviet Union and the Eastern European communist bloc, caused damage to China, and threatened the world.
The CCP does not equate to China. Being truly patriotic to China requires us to stop pledging loyalty to the CCP. As more people realize the CCP’s nature, they will reject the regime, and the CCP’s brutality will come to an end.