“My great leap forward, three hours equals twenty years”

During May Day 2012, that article on the Internet “…… someone visited many villages in Anhui and Henan, where the famine was the heaviest, and the situation was not at all what someone had falsely accused. The villagers only heard that people died of starvation. And they did not see the starvation death with their own eyes, can directly confirm the number of starvation death is very few” microblogging just a few hundred comments, 88-year-old Mr. Liao Bo Kang knew.

Noting the author’s high education and media background, he lamented that the fact of the “Great Famine” had become an unsolved case in history. He said to the reporter: You can not know the history, but you can not talk nonsense! Aren’t rumors being traced on the Internet now? Rumors stop at facts, and rumors stop at the truth. Why not let the facts and the truth spread out?

Mr. Liao Pakang was a personal witness to the Sichuan famine, paid a personal price for reporting the famine to the central government, and suffered 20 years of political and personal persecution thereafter. After his retirement, as a political patriarch of Chongqing and Sichuan, he started to compile his memoirs about the Sichuan famine in 2000.

The memoirs were completed two years later, but have not yet been published. Although an expert in the Party who is very strict and familiar with the history of the South, through careful and meticulous investigation, proved that Liao’s book is reliable, and the Sichuan Provincial Party History Office’s opinion, also considered that it can be published, but no publisher thinks “can be published”.

The 2010 edition of Contemporary Sichuan’s Important Events is a collection of Liao’s memoirs. This edition has been somewhat “desensitized,” for example, by mentioning the names of the “major leaders” of Sichuan at the time – those considered to be directly responsible for the famine – in the original text. This was erased in the publication.

Mr. Liao wanted to take out his personal part of the “important facts” and print it at his own expense, but naturally this was not possible either. According to Liao’s memoirs, the Sichuan famine was the most severe, with more than 10 million people starving to death, accounting for about one-third of the country. Mr. Liao’s memoirs are the most authoritative records seen so far, but they have only been disseminated on a small scale.

Reporting to the Party Central Committee as if doing underground work

Born in 1924 to a poor family in Chongqing, Liao was admitted to Shanghai Jiaotong University in 1943, which had already moved to Chongqing at that time, and soon transferred to Central University to study economics. 1947, he joined the Chinese Communist Party underground, and in 1962, while reporting to the Party Central Committee on the famine situation in Sichuan, he became deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee’s General Office and secretary of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee of the Communist Youth League.

Hu Yaobang, then secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League, advocated that local youth leagues should “discuss major issues and manage their own business” and suggested that youth leagues should be the Party’s assistant and the eyes and ears of the Party. One day, after the famous “Seven Thousand Conference”, several deputy secretaries of the Chongqing Youth League Committee discussed that the Central Committee might not be aware of the seriousness of the famine in Sichuan. Liao Bokang suggested that the situation in Anhui was that someone had written a letter to Chairman Mao, who instructed him to send someone to investigate, “and the lid was lifted”. But another deputy secretary, also later implicated in the “Xiao Li Liao anti-Party group” Li Zhi Zhou that: the letter is useless, Chairman Mao can not receive.

As a result of the brewing, there was a letter written by another deputy secretary Yu Keshu to the Central Committee, which was later severely pursued in Sichuan. In order to avoid the handwriting of the letter writer, the letter was written and then printed and sent out in hard copy. The printer was a dumb person who could never tell. To prevent the address of the letter from revealing secrets, the letter was brought to Wuhan and handed over to the post office, signed by “a Communist Party member”.

According to the circumstances, this fear and caution was not superfluous. In 1959, after Deng Zili, secretary of the Luzhou regional committee, was branded as a “right-leaning opportunist”, his phone calls were listened to and his letters were opened and read. Deng Zili’s letters to his cousin Deng Ken (Deng Xiaoping’s younger brother) and Deng Ken’s letters back to Deng Zili were all opened and read.

But it turned out that all these intentions were in vain. Later, the circumstances of the letter were investigated by the Sichuan provincial authorities, and the people involved were politically persecuted as a result. Years later, they were rehabilitated, but they only admitted that they were “semi-brave elements”.

From June 19 to July 9, 1962, the Communist Youth League held the 7th Plenary Session of the 3rd Central Committee in Beijing. Liao Bokang made up his mind to react to the Central Committee. During the meeting, at his residence in Qianmen Hotel, Liao Bokang reported to Hu Yaobang face to face for three hours. Hu Yaobang did not bring a secretary, he brought a pencil and a script and took notes himself. Hu Yaobang did not take a position on the incident, but he gave the records to another secretary of the Central Committee of the Mission and compiled them into a briefing paper, which was submitted to the Central Secretariat. At the same time, Hu Yaobang made a verbal report to Yang Shangkun, alternate secretary of the Central Secretariat and director of the General Office of the Central Committee, and suggested that Yang Shangkun talk directly to Liao Bokang. He told Yang Shangkun that he felt that although Liao Bokang had talked to him about many situations, the words were not yet finished.

In the afternoon of June 28, 1962, the Central Committee of the League gave some reason to cover up the meeting being held, and sent Liao and “a Communist” Yu Keshu to a small conference room in the Central Office of Zhongnanhai to see Yang Shangkun.

Yang Shangkun said he had talked to a number of cadres in Sichuan. Some “do not understand the situation”, some “have concerns”, and some “to talk about the other”. Yang Shangkun expressed his understanding: not afraid of officials, only afraid of control. Then asked Liao Bo Kang: you are not here today to play Taijiquan with me, right? But Yang Shangkun also said that he knew the situation in Sichuan was very serious, with many dead people. He mentioned that the State Council had received a letter from a Sichuanese who had fled to Fengzhou in Shaanxi Province, entitled “A word and a tear about Sichuan”, which was very specific about the tragic situation in Sichuan, and the General Office of the State Council forwarded it to the Central Office. Yang Shangkun said that he forwarded the letter to the relevant central leadership comrades to read.

Yang Shangkun also mentioned that the General Office received a letter of only two and a half pages, which was concise and well-written. It should refer to Yu Keshu’s letter. This shows that at that time, the lower class people and ordinary cadres wrote letters to the central government, which could still be sent.

Next is a classic dialogue about the death figures of the Sichuan famine. Two thousand years after A.D., this passage circulated and shook the uninformed new generation.

Yang Shangkun said that there was no way to confirm the details of the death figures in Sichuan. The central government asked Sichuan to report it, but Sichuan did not. The Ministry of Civil Affairs asked: You are in charge of relief, how many people have died? The Ministry of Civil Affairs said four million. The Ministry of Civil Affairs asked the Sichuan Provincial Civil Affairs Department, but the central government did not believe it. Then asked the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Public Security is in charge of household registration, at that time, food stamps, cloth stamps, oil stamps, coal stamps, soap, matches and other household items are linked to the household registration, one death will be erased, this figure should be accurate ah. The Ministry of Public Security, of course, also checked through the Sichuan Provincial Public Security Department, saying that eight million people had died. The central government still does not believe.

Yang Shangkun asked Liao Bokang: Tell me how many people died in Sichuan?

Liao Bolkang held out a finger: 10 million. How did you get it? The official documents of the provincial party committee came up. “Above the county official documents are sent to the Central Office, why do I not know?” “You look at the document and I look at different – you look at the nature of the preparation, I look at the document is to implement.”

Liao Bokang then quoted a document from the provincial administrative compilation team, which was approved by the provincial party committee in May 1962, followed by population figures for each region indicating that at the end of 1960, the total population of Sichuan was 62.36 million. Another material from the “Annual Report on Household Registration” shows that in 1957, the total population of Sichuan was 72,156,000. The comparison shows that within three years, Sichuan’s population decreased by 10 million.

But Liao Bokang added: the actual death, should be more than 10 million. Yang Shangkun asked again what this means.

Liao Pokang gave the following reasons: First, the natural increase in population from 1957 to 1960; second, from 1961 to the first half of 1962, Sichuan was still starving to death. Based on these two points, Liao Bokang said, another 2.5 million should be added. When Yang Shangkun heard this figure, he “slapped his thighs” and expressed his approval, recalls Liao Bokang. And immediately instructed his secretary to open a confidential cabinet in the small conference room, take out an old folding ledger-style book from it, open it and read it, and say, “That’s the number!” This episode shows that the central leadership at that time was doing sifting through various figures to find the truth.

This is the origin of the widely circulated version that Liao Bokang, former vice chairman of the CPPCC in Sichuan Province (his post before leaving the country), believed that 12 million people died of starvation during the Great Sichuan Famine.

The central government sent secret investigators to learn about the tragic situation in the land of heaven

Liao Bokang also gave Yang Shangkun a concrete picture of the tragic situation of the Great Famine, using Xingying County in Sichuan Province as an example. The Party Secretary of Xingying County said that “half of the population in his county died” and that “in some villages there was no one left to bury the people, so they had to send people from another village to bury the people in this village, and these people had no food to eat and had to dig pits, which was heavy labor. And then transfer people from other villages to bury these buried people.”

At that time, Yang Shangkun asked, “Why did so many people die during the period of peaceful construction? What exactly went wrong in terms of policy and work?” Liao Bokang replied, in summary, that Sichuan Province’s “main leaders did not listen to the central government and the masses. But now Liao says that was just the level of their thinking at the time. Now, he thinks, “In fact, the leader knows the Central Committee better than we do, but he is guessing the good and bad of one person, and from the ‘left’ side to play the development, ‘the top has a good, the bottom will be very much’. “

How to understand the real situation, they gave the central government a proposal, that is, to send a group of Sichuan cadres of the Secretary and Bureau, in the name of visiting relatives to investigate. Why is the Secretary Bureau level, because ministerial cadres to the local party committee to report the provincial party committee, the Secretary Bureau level do not have to report, unobtrusive.

On July 2, the fourth day after Liao Bo Kang and Yu Keshu reported, Yang Shang Kun reported the situation in Sichuan to Deng Xiaoping at a meeting of the Central Secretariat, and Deng Xiaoping agreed to “send people in accordance with their views”. Central Organization Minister An Ziwen proposed a list of 16 people among the Sichuan cadres at the department and bureau levels. A meeting of the party secretaries of the ministries concerned was held in the West Building of Zhongnanhai, and the list was handed over to Yang Shangkun. The level of secrecy of the meeting was such that only those who attended the meeting would be informed, and no other members of the ministry’s party group who were not involved in the meeting were to be told.

Later the actual number of people who arrived in Sichuan was 17. One extra person, Xiao Feng, had just been transferred from the deputy director of the editor-in-chief’s office of People’s Daily and secretary of the Party Committee of the newspaper’s organs to the head of the Finance and Trade Group of the Central General Office. He went to Yang Shangkun to report on his work to learn of the situation and asked to go. He was not from Sichuan, he was old and in poor health, but he was enthusiastic about the matter.

When this group of people arrived in Sichuan, they investigated completely according to their wishes, without any local official instructions or arrangements. When they contacted anyone, they would not tell their true purpose. With Liao Bo Kang and a few other knowledgeable people, is unspoken, very secret work flavor.

The Sichuan region, traditionally known as the Land of Heaven (including Chongqing at that time), was starving and miserable during the Great Famine.

According to the information that can now be verified, PI County population in 1958 to 1961 4 years, from 280,000 to 230,000, a net reduction of 50,000. The county’s labor force than in 1958, a reduction of nearly 20%, there are 7 communes by 30%. Youai commune a management area in the first half of 1958 there are 855 labor force, after 500 people left; Yongding commune a management area in 1958 each standard labor force burden 3.9 mu of land, after the need to bear 13 mu of land, that is, labor force reduced by 60%.

The population of Wenjiang was 4.94 million in 1957 and 4.33 million in 1961, a net decrease of 610,000 in four years. All unnatural death of about 900,000 people.

Here cited PI County, Wenjiang, is the most fertile part of the Chengdu plain, there are few records of famine and starvation in history.

Great famine starvation are farmers. But at that time, the city of Sichuan citizens and public officials, the supply of food ration, only 21 pounds (much lower than other cities in the country, for example, Beijing is 31 pounds), but also asked to “save” two pounds, the actual only 19 pounds. Liao Bokang recalled that in the canteen of the Chongqing Municipal Party Committee at that time, one window sold one or two pieces of rice, and one window sold two or two pieces. However, some people said, “I eat a meal of one or two, too hungry, eat two, food stamps are not enough. So, Liao Bokang, as deputy secretary-general of the General Office, decided to add a window of one tael and five cents to the canteen!

One can imagine how miserable the content of the report given by the investigators to the central government at that time was. Liao Bokang said that Tian Jiaying had read all the reports and intended to send to ask Liu Shaoqi to read them and forward them to Chairman Mao, but then the 10th Plenary Session of the 8th Central Committee, the political winds changed and they were not sent to Chairman Mao.

These reports have been dusty for 50 years. In 2002, Liao Bo Kang contacted Xiao Feng, who was 93 years old, and obtained a copy of Mr. Xiao’s report, which he had left behind.

The first page of Xiao Feng’s report: “The situation in Sichuan” written by Xiao Feng, deputy director of the editor-in-chief office and secretary of the Party Committee of the People’s Daily, who was dispatched by the General Office of the Central Government in July 1962 to conduct a survey in Sichuan Province, reads: “The population, in 1957, was 73 million, or 71.75 million; in 1960, when the Organization Department of the Provincial Party Committee approved the compilation of all places, it was 62 million. Add to this the number of people who died in the spring and summer famine in 1961 and 1962, as well as the offset between life and death, a total reduction of more than 12 million people, a reduction of about 17 percent.”

The “Xiao-Li-Liao Anti-Party Group”, Truth and Judgment

Liao Bokang reported to the central government the political consequences of the famine, which affected the fate of many people. During his investigation in Sichuan, Xiao Feng was invited to talk with the editorial board of Luzhou Daily, during which he responded with his personal understanding of the topic of “the package to the household”. This is a highly sensitive political topic. The news soon reached the Sichuan Provincial Committee, which directly affected Xiao Feng’s work and was pursued during the Cultural Revolution.

At the end of 1968, the “Central Cultural Revolution Group” sent two working groups, one in Beijing to interrogate Yang Shangkun and one in Chongqing to interrogate Liao Bokang, to trace the problems of the 1962 conversation. The most costly one was Liao Bo Kang.

The biggest price was paid by Liao Bokang and others. Sichuan traced the “sorry provincial committee” (to the central government to report the famine), starting from a letter to Mao (Yu Keshu made a review and barely passed), until the “Xiao Li Liao anti-Party group” was found. Among them, Xiao refers to Xiao Zekuan, then Chongqing Municipal Party Committee Organization Minister; Li refers to Li Zhi Zhou, Deputy Secretary General of the Municipal Party Committee; Liao is Liao Bo Kang. This ranking was derived from the size of the three men’s positions at the time. Their “crime” is: “In 1962 when our country suffered three years of serious natural disasters …… Xiao Li Liao and others …… viciously attacked the Party, attacked Three Red Flags ……”

Among them, Liao Bokang was hit the hardest. His review no matter how can not pass. He was sentenced to “two years’ probation and revocation of all positions inside and outside the Party” for “opposing the Party’s guidelines and policies, opposing the Party’s leadership and undermining the Party’s organizational discipline,” and was “deported” to a construction site He was sent to work. After that, he joined the “Mao Zedong Thought Study Class” and fled to …… for 20 years, suffering a lot of hardships. During that time, I saw many people being tortured to death or committing suicide. During his underground activities before 1949, Liao learned how to sit in prison, which helped him. He played tai chi in the “study class” and ran around the table when he was not allowed to. In 1978, he was rehabilitated for the first time, and in 1982, for the second time, he was completely rehabilitated; in 1983, he became the Deputy Secretary of Chongqing Municipal Committee, and in 1985, he became the Secretary of Chongqing Municipal Committee, and in 1988, he became the Chairman of the 6th CPPCC of Sichuan Province.

Now, Mr. Liao Bokang is enjoying his old age at home, doing oral history. The Great Famine is the most important stage of his life and the most unforgettable history. There was a slogan in the era of “Great Leap Forward”, “One year is equal to twenty years”, “My Great Leap Forward, three hours are equal to twenty years” (reporting on the Great Famine in Sichuan, talking with Yang Shangkun for three hours). (Report on the Great Famine in Sichuan, 3 hours with Yang Shangkun).

In Liao’s mind, these questions have been sorted out clearly. Natural causes? Liao Pokang checked the weather records, not a problem. Food transfer? Liao Pokang Sichuan and foreign provinces have done a comparison, Sichuan transfer of food is less. The conclusion is that the policy reasons, and Sichuan is more left than the whole country. Liao Pokang said: “58 years of misrepresentation (production), (other provinces) 59 years to make up; 59 years of misrepresentation, 60 years to make up. Only Sichuan can withstand! So, (Sichuan) was still starving in ’62.”

In Liao’s memoirs, there are two “touching stories” that illustrate the need for historical truth among young people. One is that during the Cultural Revolution, students from the Beijing Geological Institute went to Chongqing to revolt, and Liao Bokang was already imprisoned around the city under the name “Liao Chun”. The revolutionary students found him and brought him back to Chongqing. When the students learned that he had “made a mistake” by stabbing the Sichuan famine, they gave him the only bed that night and they all slept on the floor.

The second story is a bit more romantic: during the time Liao and his political friends took refuge in Beijing, they were helped by revolutionary university students, who formed a “task force”. A student from the Southwest Normal College and a student from the Beijing Geological Institute became romantically involved in the “task force” and later married. Liao Pokang said, “Xiao Li Liao case” is their bride.

Thirty years later, Liao Bokang asked the couple why they were so eager to help them at that time. The answer was: At that time, they went to the Central Archives to check the reports written by Xiao Feng and Deng Qingming (a Sichuan cadre who returned to Sichuan to investigate the famine) to the Central Government. They also extracted 8,000 words from Deng Lighting’s report …… So they had their own opinion!

Southern People Weekly 2012-5-18