Shanghai Life and Death(58)

One night in October, while I was battling my health, guards went door to door ordering prisoners to sit in silence and listen to the radio. A man’s voice, over the PA, read a shocking announcement that a resolution had been passed at the Central Committee, chaired by Mao Zedong himself, to expel Liu Shaoqi, President of the People’s Republic of China, from the Party and to remove him from all positions within and outside the Party.

Liu Shaoqi had long been one of the important leaders of the Communist Party and was second only to Mao Zedong in the Party. In the 1930s, while Mao Zedong was engaged in armed struggle in the revolutionary base of Jinggang Mountain, Liu Shaoqi was leading the Party’s underground work in the White Zone.

After 1949, Mao Zedong held two positions, as chairman of the Party Central Committee and of the state. Liu Shaoqi was the vice chairman of the Communist Party. The two worked closely together and there was no indication that Liu Shaoqi wanted to seize Mao’s leadership. At the Seventh Party Congress in 1945, Liu Shaoqi, in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the Party, coined the term “Mao Zedong Thought” in his report. After the failure of the Great Leap Forward in 1960, China’s fragile economic system was pushed to the brink of collapse. Mao Zedong relinquished the presidency in favor of Liu Shaoqi.

At that time, Liu Shaoqi instituted a series of timely measures to rescue the economic trend in decline. In this way, his prestige among all party members and the common people increased.

During the Cultural Revolution, each had its different encounters. In essence, it was a struggle between two lines, led by Mao Zedong and represented by Liu Shaoqi. Dramatically, although Liu Shaoqi was beaten and killed, after his death, Deng Xiaoping led China along the economic opening route set more than two decades earlier, and farther than any Chinese or people in the world could have imagined.

The resolution adopted by the Central Committee declared Liu Shaoqi a “great traitor,” a “great agent,” and a “great worker and thief,” but provided no conclusive evidence of his crimes.

Since the Central Committee announced the downfall of Liu Shaoqi, the Communist propaganda machine began to mobilize the masses to expose and criticize him. Every day, articles were published in the newspapers exposing his “crimes”. The most serious one seemed to be the consistent “opposition to the policy of the great leader Chairman Mao.” The newspapers also reported that people all over the country had held mass meetings to express their “resolute” support for the “resolution” and to denounce Liu Shaoqi’s “crimes”. I think the main reason for creating this kind of momentum was to intimidate those who might be sympathetic to Liu Shaoqi so that they would not defend him. So although it appears from the newspapers that the whole country is cynical about Liu Shaoqi, I know that this is not the case. I believe that the majority of the country is quite indifferent to whether Mao Zedong or Liu Shaoqi is in power, and has no particular demands. But for the majority of Communist Party members, with the exception of the small group of ultra-leftists, Liu Shaoqi’s downfall was undoubtedly a source of shame.

The biting wind was blowing again, and the cold winter night caused a layer of glistening vapor to condense on the bars of the cell windows. At this time, a propaganda team of workers and peasants, stationed in the first detention center, to help the military control committee to lead the cultural revolution. But unlike when the PLA took over, they did not announce it publicly over the radio. However, when we were on release, I saw all over the prison, as far as the eye could see, colorful colored paper with slogans and slogans welcoming their entry. “The working class must lead everything!” — a Marxist slogan widely quoted as hailing the arrival of worker-peasant propaganda teams in every organization — appeared most eye-catching.

A few weeks later, another prisoner was summoned for arraignment. I waited with hopeful anticipation. One day, when the familiar banging of the latch on the cell door passed once more, I asked the guard for permission to write to the Labor Propaganda Team. I thought she would refuse my request, but to my surprise, she gave me a piece of paper, a pen and a bottle of ink. I wrote a very politely worded letter, asking them to investigate my case. And on it, I copied Mao’s quotation. At that time, it was a routine to indicate the correct political position of the writer. It was also the same at the beginning of every article in the newspaper. I handed the letter to the guards and waited for them to come and continue my arraignment.

One day, I started bleeding heavily again. My underwear was all covered with blood. While I was washing my pants, a female guard came to the peephole.

She opened the small window and asked me, “What’s wrong? Why are your pants covered with blood?”

“I’m having my period.”

“Why is there so much blood, is that normal?” She opened the cell door and came in. The toilet was full of blood-stained toilet paper, and I was going to flush them out with the sewage from washing my pants.

“Why didn’t you report it!” She stood for a moment, then closed the door and left.

Later she brought the first young physician, who seemed to have returned to work here. After asking my age, she said, “It could be menopause, but it could also be giving birth to a foreign body. You need a gynecological examination, but there is no gynecology here now, so first you will be given a hemostatic injection.”

The injection worked well, but I was worried that it might produce a tumor or something like that, and it could be malignant. I could not have been more anxious to get out of the guardhouse than I was at this moment.

It was the coldest day of January in 1969. It had been more than two years since my first arraignment in 1966. My situation was beginning to change.

As usual, I was sitting on the edge of my bed reading the works of Mao Zedong. At that moment the cell door opened and two young women serving time in reform through labor came in, followed by the female army guard who had searched my cell. She did not come in, but just two hands propped up on her fat buttocks, standing still at the door and watching intently. The other guard just followed her ass around. The two young women who were serving their sentences moved all my belongings from the other two bunks, which I had been using as tables, to the floor. Then they took the top bunk down and placed it at the window.

“Pick up your things, do you still want to wait for your old maid to carry them for you?” The army woman snarled at me with a sneer.

When I put my things back on the empty bunk, the female reformers came in with a bed of covers and basins, followed by a female prisoner in her thirties. She moved slowly with her head deafened, an attitude prescribed for prisoners in prison. She also held some odds and ends of clothing in her hands.

The guards closed the door after the women went out.

I had been isolated for so long that I thirsted for company, just as a lost man in the desert thirsts for water. My first reaction to the presence of the newcomer was that I felt immediately refreshed and ready to react in a welcoming way. But I immediately realized that the far-leftists were always eager to strike at the east and reminded myself not to look at the surface, so I sat back down and looked down at my book while pondering this unexpected situation in my mind. Because the cultural revolution had entered a new phase after the mandatory military control, the workload of the detention centers had slackened and very few large numbers of inmates were thrown in anymore. I estimate that the number of inmates in the detention center is only decreasing. I could hear that the sound of footsteps in the cells upstairs had also apparently decreased during the indoor activities. And at this time of the year, but a prisoner to be stuffed into my cell, it does not seem to mean that because the prisoners are too crowded. Therefore, I must wait patiently for the truth to come out.