China’s Butchers-in-Chief: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin
China’s Butchers-in-Chief: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin

School children in China are taught that the red in the Chinese regime’s flag represents the blood of communist martyrs. No mention is made of  the tens of millions killed by the Chinese Communist Party.

According to the “Black Book of Communism,” the classic academic text on communist killings, the Chinese regime is the most murderous among the major communist dictatorships, overseeing some 65 million deaths. The Soviet Union is a distant second at 20 million.

The bulk of the Party’s killings occurred under the political and economic campaigns of founding leader Mao Zedong. Deng Xiaoping, Mao’s successor, was behind the Party military’s slaughter of thousands of students and civilians seeking greater freedoms from the regime in Tiananmen Square.

Killings continued even as China was integrated into the international community. The full extent of the biggest killing campaign of the new millennium, the persecution of Falun Gong, will likely be unveiled only when the campaign, launched in 1999, is officially ended. The Chinese leader Jiang Zemin is responsible for that campaign. Thousands of deaths by torture and abuse have been documented. Researchers of forced organ harvesting estimate that hundreds of thousands, or more, prisoners of conscience, mainly Falun Gong practitioners, have been killed for their organs since 2000—a crime that continues.

Mao, Deng, and Jiang carried out these killings in peace time, all in the name of preserving the Party’s power.

Chairman Mao

Mao Zedong was clear that the revolution wouldn’t end with the communist takeover of China from the Chinese Nationalist Party in October 1949.

“After our armed enemies have been crushed, there will still be our unarmed enemies … Unless we think of the problem in precisely those terms, we will commit the gravest of errors,” he said at a key Party conclave in March of that year.

The Chinese people were marked as targets in the Communist Party’s endless revolutionary struggle.

Social groups that Mao deemed enemies—landlords, intellectuals, “capitalist roaders,” Nationalist “sympathizers,” and even Party cadres—were labeled as “counterrevolutionaries.” Some were then publicly denounced and verbally abused by the attendees of struggle sessions. Others were  forced to wear metal dunce caps, beaten, and tortured by their former peers.

Mao was known to set “killing quotas” in his political campaigns. For instance, he declared that 10 percent of Party cadres were actually “rightists” seeking to undermine the regime, and this figure would be used to justify the arbitrary arrest and summary execution of cadres until the quota had been fulfilled.

Mao launched the Great Leap Forward in 1959 in a bid to “surpass the United Kingdom” in 15 years. Instead of ushering in an era of plenty, his grand collectivization and industrialization effort led to crop failure and a massive famine. Scholars place the final death tally at between 30 to 45 million.

More crucially, the Great Leap Forward pushed the Chinese people to barbarism. In Liuyang, Hunan Province, 300 men and women were made to work shirtless in the snow, resulting in one in seven dying. People were also forced to slave long hours in the fields with barely any food. To survive, people dug up plant roots, ate leather belts, and in the most extreme cases, consumed corpses.

“History will judge you and me,” said Liu Shaoqi, then the Chinese regime’s number two, to Mao Zedong in July 1962. “Even cannibalism will go down in the books!”  

Mao would bear a grudge against Liu for the criticism over the Great Leap Forward. One year into the Cultural Revolution (1966-1977)—a political campaign aimed at restoring Mao’s damaged prestige and eliminating traditional Chinese values and culture—Liu was arrested.

Liu was beaten during mass denunciation meetings, and denied medicine despite suffering from diabetes and pneumonia. Jiang Qing, Mao’s power-hungry fourth wife, later allowed Liu to receive medical treatment, but only because she wanted him alive as a political target to be attacked at an important Party meeting in 1969. A month after the meeting, Liu Shaoqi, once heir to Mao Zedong, died unwashed and ill while tied down to a bed in solitary detention.  

‘Twenty Years of Peace’

Deng Xiaoping sought to reverse Mao Zedong’s destructive economic policies by promoting “reform and openness.” The reforms, however, left  Communist Party’s governance over China untouched, as Chinese students and the world learned on June 4, 1989.

Students from across the country gathered on Tiananmen Square beginning on April 17 to mark the recent passing of Hu Yaobang, a reform-minded former Party general-secretary. The protesters, numbering a million at their peak, demanded cleaner government, freedom of speech and the press, and more democratic participation. The protest captured the world’s attention because Western journalists were in Beijing for Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s state visit.

Then-Chinese leader Zhao Ziyang was sympathetic to the students and some of their demands, like their calls to clamp down on a corrupt officialdom. But for paramount leader Deng and other Party hardliners, nothing less than the survival of the Chinese regime was at stake.

On the night of June 3 and the early hours of June 4, People’s Liberation Army units moved into the city, and opened fire on the students.

American foreign correspondent Scott Savitt saw rifle tracer rounds being fired from soldiers into the crowd around him. In his 2016 book, “Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China,” Savitt recounts calling his office to report a killing:

“Dave,” I say when I hear my boss’s voice, “they’re firing into the crowd and a guy’s dead.”

“How do you know he’s dead?”

“Because his brains are splattered on the pavement.”

The Chinese Red Cross and a Swiss ambassador both estimated that 2,600 or 2,700 people were killed by the Party’s military in the Tiananmen Square Massacre.

Zhao Ziyang was purged after the massacre, and placed under house arrest until his death in 2005. To replace Zhao, Deng turned to Jiang Zemin, the Shanghai chief who was tough on student protesters there and shut down a reputable liberal publication based in Shanghai.

Human Harvest

A decade after Tiananmen, Jiang Zemin decided to suppress one of China’s largest spiritual communities because it appeared to be more popular than the Chinese Communist Party.

“Can it be that we Communist Party members, armed with Marxism and a belief in materialism and atheism, cannot defeat the Falun Gong stuff? If that is so, wouldn’t it be the greatest joke on earth?” Jiang wrote in a fevered letter to the Politburo on the night of April 25, 1999.

Earlier that day, about 10,000 Falun Gong practitioners had gathered in Beijing to petition the central authorities to release 45 practitioners who had been assaulted and arrested in the nearby city of Tianjin. Although the petitioners stood quietly along the sidewalks near the leadership headquarters at Zhongnanhai and picked up litter and the police’s cigarette butts in the area before leaving, Jiang felt that the peaceful appeal was “the most serious political incident” since June 4.

On July 20, Jiang ordered the eradication of the spiritual discipline. Overnight, 70 to 100 million ordinary Chinese, who performed physical exercises in parks, and followed the teachings of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, faced a violent Maoist political campaign.

Jiang’s persecution campaign, which persists to this day, has seen 4,000 practitioners tortured or beaten to death, according to incomplete numbers on Minghui.org, a clearinghouse for first-hand information about the persecution. The actual death toll is believed to be substantially higher.

Researchers also say that the Chinese regime has been profiting from the forced organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners held in detention facilities. The practitioners, still living, don’t survive the procedure. Hundreds of thousands are likely to have been killed in this manner, at the hands of doctors, according to findings of Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, former Canadian Member of Parliament David Kilgour, and American investigative reporter Ethan Gutmann.

Communism is estimated to have killed at least 100 million people, yet its crimes have not been compiled and its ideology still persists. Epoch Times seeks to expose the history and beliefs of this movement, which has been a source of tyranny and destruction since it emerged.

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