A great question, and I'm glad it has finally come up, though it would be nice to have someone Chinese ask it. For years I have wondered why I never heard anyone raise the issue, as if nothing were unusual about 30 million peasants passively starving to death without putting up so much as a fight.
From 1959 to 1961, ten million of the starvation deaths occurred in my home province,
Puzzlingly, there were no riots during that period. Not even small revolts. There were individual complaints and "guai hua" (怪话), but that was pretty much it. Why didn't the peasants, the largest social group whose numerous uprisings were the primary forces pushing feudal
This was the primary question I had in mind when I interviewed Mr. Chen three years ago. I was writing a memoir about my parents' past, and it turned out the famine years were a key period in their life together. At the time, my mother was a grassroots government cadre sent down to the countryside as punishment for her "rightist thoughts." Mr. Chen had been her colleague and friend in the local government. They both closely witnessed the famine.
The following is an excerpt of the interview in translation, which I hope will shed some light on
More discussion will follow tomorrow. (to be continued)