In order to stimulate them, I feigned ignorance and said: “I have always had great respect for Chairman Liu Shaoqi, and I cannot be quite sure that he really committed these crimes. Perhaps there is a mistake. Everyone knows that he had fought against imperialism and the Kuomintang reactionaries and the bourgeoisie at the risk of his life.”
I was very glad that my feigned stupidity and obtuseness had the effect of a bomb on the spot. They began to thunder: “How dare you harbor a traitor to the Communist Party, how dare you fight against the resolutions of the Central Committee! How dare you oppose the great leader Chairman Mao!”
From the standpoint of the rebels, he was right to do so. But strangely enough, only the young worker and the PLA officer seemed to be genuinely angry. The other three just looked at me with curiosity and interest, apparently not angry and not opposed to it. I think they were a bit pleased to hear that I was defending Liu Shaoqi. At the same time, they were surprised that an anti-Party prisoner like me could have such deep feelings for Liu Shaoqi.
I found that even among the cadre of ultra-leftists, there were people who still felt sympathy for Liu Shaoqi. This aroused my great interest. I decided to delay the conversation between us. “I don’t oppose the resolution of the Central Committee, nor do I oppose Chairman Mao, who dares to do so? I am only suggesting that the material for defeating Chairman Liu Shaoqi must be completely reliable.” I said.
“Shut up! No calling out ‘traitor’ as ‘Chairman’.” The young worker shouted vehemently. The arraigner and the recorder just stared with both eyes at the document at their heels, while the old worker, who seemed to appreciate the present scene, flashed a sly smile at the corner of his mouth.
“You may not refer to the man whom the Central Committee has pulled out as ‘chairman’.” The interrogator said.
“That’s because I’m used to calling, Chairman Liu-” Just seeing the interrogator glaring at me, and the young worker already standing up angrily, I changed my tone: “Liu Shaoqi.”
I continued, “For a long time he was a revolutionary hero in the eyes of the Chinese people, with great contributions to all the work of the Party, including the construction of socialism and the training of Party members, and Liu Shaoqi was praised several times in Chairman Mao’s writings. Now all of a sudden to turn the corner and think of him as bad and bad is really not easy. Maybe he just made a mistake once, if that’s the case, I hope Chairman Mao will forgive him, no matter what, for so many years, they are good friends ah!”
“Don’t dream, Chairman Mao will never forgive him!” The young worker said.
“Now foreign countries are going to laugh at us. How can such an important person, who has been the President of the People’s Republic of China for decades, suddenly be found to be a traitor? People won’t believe that he could have concealed himself from all the leaders, including the great and wise leader Chairman Mao himself. That’s incredible, wouldn’t that also make Chairman Mao lose face?” I asked them.
“We don’t care what the imperialist capitalists and they will say, they won’t speak well of us anyway. China’s internal affairs are none of their business.” The young worker spoke with more and more vigor, “To harbor Liu Shaoqi is a criminal action, he’s a counter-revolutionary! Therefore you are a counter-revolutionary too!”
“I know I am not a counter-revolutionary, I support the People’s Government and the Communist Party, and I respect the great leader Chairman Mao most of all. I ask you to clarify completely that I have neither acted against the Party and the government, nor have I made such statements.” I said firmly and calmly.
“You want to threaten us in order to muddle through? Don’t play tricks here. What kind of person are you? Can you question the government? Even if you have never committed a crime, you are a shameful exploiter who sucks the blood and sweat of working people. Anyway, we already have solid evidence that you are an imperialist agent.” The interrogator said, beating the table as he did so.
I was so indignant that I rushed up and punched the table at them too. They all flinched and stood up with a whoosh.
The soldier drew his pistol from his pouch and pointed it at me, shouting, “Do you know what you’re doing?”
I stood in the middle of the room facing him and said, “If you have solid evidence that I am guilty, you can shoot me immediately.” The two of us were facing each other, and by this time, everyone else was watching like a wooden chicken, and no one opened their mouths.
“Calm down, I’ve heard you’re a nervous woman suffering from epilepsy, control yourself, go back to your position, if you move that chair one more step, I’ll tie you up with chains.” The arraigner waved his hand and made me return to my seat, and the PLA withdrew his gun, but his eyes were still fixed on me intently.
In this chaos, the only one who remained calm and collected was the old worker. He looked at me almost sympathetically, and perhaps he was beginning to believe that I was really innocent.
I returned to my seat and sat down, and the interrogator began to lecture me sternly.
“It is a serious political mistake to harbor the defeated person announced by the central resolution, and on that basis you could be sentenced to several years in prison. However, we consider that you have not had the opportunity to fully understand the progress of the Cultural Revolution, and therefore your mind cannot keep up with the situation, so we spare you this time.
“The revolutionary rebels under the leadership of our great helmsman Chairman Mao are determined to expose the hidden enemies in society, no matter how high their status and how cleverly they are disguised, you must see this clearly, you must throw away all illusions and know that you will not be able to muddle through.” That interrogator said.
“I know the situation well. I believe that the real enemy should indeed be punished. But you cannot mistake innocent people who are not anti-government at all for the enemy. I ask you to investigate my case fully and thoroughly, and if you do have evidence that I am dishonest and have really committed crimes against the government and the party, you may sentence me to death. But if you find that I am innocent, then the government must apologize to me and should publish an apology in the newspaper for public consumption.” I said with a straight face.
“An apology?” The young worker said with a smirk and mockery on his face, “Who do you think you are? Don’t think you’re too important.”
“Everyone is equal before the law, and although I am not an official, I am a Chinese citizen.”
“You are rehashing your revisionist arguments again, no wonder you want to protect Liu Shaoqi, he is indeed your backstage boss. Human beings cannot be equal, since they are divided into two classes hostile to each other, the victorious class has to impose their will on the conquered class. As long as there are classes, there will be no true equality.” The interrogator said.
“Do you mean that you would punish an innocent person without any regard for the law, simply because that person is bourgeois?”
“Why shouldn’t it be so? If it were necessary, it would have to be so. The bourgeoisie is our enemy, but we want to reform the majority of bourgeois elements so that they become self-supporting workers. And those who refuse to be reformed and oppose us, of course, must be told to perish. In any case, the laws made by the proletariat are for the benefit of this class.”
“In that case, it is very simple. Because you have classified me as a member of the bourgeoisie, and I am too old and weak to feed myself by labor. So why don’t you just shoot me once and for all? What’s the point of taking the time to interrogate?”
“We want you to give an account because your problems also involve some other people. You are personally inadequate, we don’t care if you are dead or alive.” The interrogator said coldly and ruthlessly.
Also involved in Liu other people? Who do they mean? I felt even more confused.