Mao Zedong, Freedom of Speech and Re-education

“Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.”

-Mao Zedong

Chinese propaganda poster showing Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong), Chinese Communist leader, with peasants during the Cultural Revolution of 1966.

Mao Zedong was Chairman of Chinese Communist Party. China always had single party system, so chairman of party was as good as supreme ruler. Any criticism of party or its chairman was not tolerated; it was treated at par with blasphemy. Mao’s influence was not confined to China; even Indian communist leaders loved Mao more than Nehru!

“Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend”

-Mao Zedong


One day Mao thought that he should give people freedom to speak. He started what is called as “Hundred Flowers Movement”. He told people to express their thoughts freely. Some people believed him and started expressing their views; they started criticising incompetence of leaders which had resulted in famine, hunger and deaths due to inadequate food production. People were also wasting time and fuel in making tons of useless steel. Both agricultural productivity and industrial productivity was low.


One writer Wu Han wrote play on Hai Rui, an honest bureaucrat of 16th century, called “Hai Rui Dismissed from Office”. Play was about how irresponsible emperor of China dismissed an honest bureaucrat.

Communist leaders did not like the play at all. They thought Wu was using play to attack Mao. They started persecuting Wu, which resulted in his death.

“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun”

-Mao Zedong

Mao thought people were misusing freedom, so those who criticised him or leaders of party were labelled as rightists. They were harassed by “Red Army”, a collection of so called custodians of communism. Some were humiliated publicly; while some were send to rural areas to work as farm labours. Sending “rightists” to rural farms was called re-education.

red book

Sycophants published a book on sayings of Mao called as Red Book, every Chinese had to read it. They were not very different from their Indian counterparts. In India sycophants are more enthusiastic, they write poems, build temples, and touch feet of their leaders.

“If I had stayed in China, I would be dead…”

-Anchee Min, author of ‘Red Azalea’

Some “rightists” who underwent “re-education” program were writers like Anchee Min and Dai Sijie.

anchee min

Anchee Min wrote book on her “re-education” days called “Red Azalea”. The title of book is taken from film in which Anchee was supposed to play a leading role, but film was never completed because her mentor, Mao’s wife died.

Balzac_and_the_Little_Chinese_Seamstress[1] 375px-Dai_sijie_by_asis_g_ayerbe[1]

Dai Sijie was sent to rural Sichuan for re-education, he wrote a book on that period called “Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress”.


But worst treatment was reserved for beautiful actress Xu Lai.  A small time actress called Jiang Qing decided to join communist party, and later ended up marrying Mao. Jiang hated Xu, and used her political influence to declare Xu as rightist. Xu and her husband were arrested and were tortured, resulting in death of Xu.



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