When exactly did Yuan Longping see starving people? Contradictory claims from China’s Xinhua website

When Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping died on May 22, the English version of China’s Xinhua website published an article on the same day, claiming that the main reason for Yuan’s hybrid rice research was that he had seen starving people before 1949. However, there are several pieces of evidence that Yuan’s research on hybrid rice was prompted by his sighting of starving people during the Great Leap Forward after the Communist Party’s establishment of government, and Xinhua’s claim is even completely contradicted by an article published by the Chinese version of the media in 2007.

On May 22 of this year, Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping died. On the same day, the English version of Xinhua, China’s official mouthpiece, published an article titled “China Focus: “Father of hybrid rice” Yuan Longping dies at 91″. at 91″, which included the following paragraph.

“‘I saw heartbreaking scenes of starving people falling on the road before 1949,’ Yuan said, recalling a time when even getting enough to eat was a serious problem in China, ‘and that was the main reason that led me to hybrid rice research. ‘”

Yet in fact there is evidence that the main reason that led Yuan to devote himself to the path of hybrid rice research was his experience of seeing starving people during the Great Leap Forward that followed the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party.

For example, in a 2013 interview with People magazine, Yuan said, “At that time, during the three years of hardship, we in Hunan were called ‘living a hard life,’ and it was really hard. I saw five starving people with my own eyes, falling on the ridge of the field, next to the road and under the bridge, tens of millions of people died of starvation.” This interview, was published in the August 2013 issue of People magazine.

Yuan spoke to the media more than once during his lifetime about his experiences during the Great Leap Forward. On April 8, 2009, Guangzhou Daily published an interview with Yuan Longping (titled “Yuan Longping: It’s Difficult to Keep the Red Line of 1.8 Billion Mu of Arable Land”). In the interview, Yuan said, “You are young and don’t know that during the three years of hardship, tens of millions of people died of starvation. The Great Leap Forward cut down all the trees to make steel and destroyed the ecology, and in 1959, there was a big drought and basically no harvest for one year. I saw five starving people on the road.”

In an article titled “Yuan Longping: I am a people’s scientist” published by Xinhua on May 22, 2007, it is stated that Yuan Longping saw starving corpses in Hunan during the Great Leap Forward and “chose the scientific research topic of hybrid rice without rebellion”.

The above evidence suggests that the recent statement in the English version of Xinhua’s website that Yuan was motivated to engage in hybrid rice research mainly because he saw starving people before 1949 is irreconcilably contradictory to the statement in the Chinese version of Xinhua’s article in 2007.

Zheng Yi, a U.S.-based writer who has studied Chinese Communist Party history for many years, said in response to the situation: “Like what it (press: referring to the Chinese Communist Party) said about how many people starved to death in the past during the Kuomintang period and so on. That’s where the problem is, it doesn’t discuss with you, it has all the propaganda machine at its disposal.”

Zheng Yi also said that under Xi Jinping’s administration, the CCP is making extensive use of political propaganda similar to this: “It just says it a hundred times, and those who don’t specialize in this, those who watch the News Feed every day, will be changed. It’s very simple, the information you have, determines your thinking.”