Narrator: Li Jianglin｜Writer, History Scholar
Li Jianglin, a native of Nanchang, Jiangxi, grew up in a red family, with parents who were members of the Fourth Field Army Working Group of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, who moved south from the northeast to Jiangxi and became senior local cadres after the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party. As a child, he enjoyed the privileges of a revolutionary family and believed that revolution was the natural order of things. In 1968, she and her second brother went to the countryside with her mother, her elder brother went to the mountains and the countryside, and her father, an “anti-Party activist”, was sent to a labor camp. It was the mid-1970s when the family was separated from each other and reunited.
Li Jianglin received her B.A. in English from Fudan University in 1982 and her M.A. in American Literature from Shandong University in 1988. — How the Dalai Lama Exited,” “Iron Birds Fly in the Sky: The Secret War on the Tibetan Plateau 1956-1962,” “Secret Journey to Tibet,” and many other works, before being banned from entry by Chinese authorities.
Li Jianglin said in an interview that it was due to the huge contrasts and shocks experienced by the Red family she grew up in that she, once a “silly little girl”, had to think about the meaning of her father’s fight for the country. Years of painful thinking, document collection, and conversations with historical witnesses have continued to erase the imprint of her Red family and transformed her into a new person step by step. She once said that the more thoroughly she studied the history of the Chinese Communist Party, the more thoroughly she rejected this so-called revolution.
My mother joined the CCP at the age of 18, and this organization was everything to her. She never understood why I was the way I was. At one point I also tried to make her understand that this revolution was wrong. But in my opinion, it was impossible for them to get out of their minds. All I can say is that this is not my path. My choice is to reject it all. I refuse to accept your legacy.
Our family was a true Red family, and in 1948 my parents were integrated into the Southward Work Brigade of the Fourth Field Army. The Southward Work Brigade was to send cadres to the so-called “newly liberated areas” in the south. Every time a city was captured, a group of cadres was left behind. This is how my parents were left in Jiangxi.
We grew up in a compound, and I had no idea what Nanchang was like or how Nanchang people lived. We weren’t even allowed to speak the local language at home; we had to speak Mandarin. From a young age we knew that we were different from the people around us. Our parents’ generation referred to others as people outside the circle, and were collectively called “commoners. This was a habit they picked up in the military. It has been the same all their lives, and it is still the same today. Because they were cadres, everyone else was a civilian. The parents of the kids we interacted with would give you a filter. The children of the common people, we were not interacting with them.
When I was three years old, I went to the best nursery school in our area, a full daycare. Of course we were naturally the successors of the revolution. I didn’t go hungry during the famine, because we had to make sure that we children didn’t go hungry, all those children of the high officials of the provincial party committee. The elementary school was one of the best in our area, others were divided according to the street, but I went to a different school.
I was not brought up by my mother, but by a nanny, which is common to the eldest sons and daughters of the Republic in this generation. Parents met every day and studied every day. I once wrote in a memory essay, “They were not gone, but they were always absent.” I sometimes didn’t see my father for a week; he was gone by the time I got up for school in the morning, and there were meetings in the evening, criticism and self-criticism. By the time he came back I was asleep.
My father’s position was not particularly high, barely reaching the rank of senior cadre in the area. But I learned later that he had joined the Communist Party of China in 1940. He was a little resistant to the right during the anti-right, refusing to fight the 5% of rightists in their unit, probably related to this, and he was never brought up in the end. This is what I heard many years later. My father never spoke about it. What I learned from my father was that he had an inherent pride in not being promoted, so he was also made to suffer during the Cultural Revolution.
I was only 10 years old when the Cultural Revolution began. My first memory of the Cultural Revolution is when I was called to the office by my teacher and told, “Your father has been taken out, so you have to draw a clear line with him.” I couldn’t understand at all what it meant to draw the line. It freaked me out, and I thought it meant I was no longer allowed to go home. I thought, “Where am I going to go?
I was really too young to feel that the family had changed drastically. The whole family atmosphere became very tense. My nanny, whom I had been raised by since birth, was forcibly evicted. The rebels saw this as exploitation of the poor peasants and had to leave. Plus my father’s salary was docked and could not afford her salary. I took on all the chores of our family from the age of 10. Later I myself was often beaten by revolutionary cadres and other children of the rebels. School was soon closed, so I never graduated from elementary school; I only made it to the fourth grade.
When the first group went to the countryside in ’68, we went to the countryside, and when I was 12 years old, my mother took me and my brother with her. My dad was sent to a labor farm as an anti-Party activist. My 16-year-old brother followed the other youths to another place. Our family was thus divided into three pieces.
I was very shocked by the poverty in the commune where I went to the countryside. I didn’t expect it to be like that at all. Later, I went to several places, and I was criticized. The children of the poor peasants were gathered in a circle, and there were people watching me. The contrast was particularly great. My natural personality was suppressed so much at that time that it became common for me to be criticized by the whole school at every turn.
What really made me suspicious was the Lin Biao incident. This incident shocked me so much that it was beyond my imagination and understanding. I felt that what we saw, what we experienced, and what was propagated were different. But exactly how it was different, I don’t know.
One of the things that happened to me that woke me up was the suicide of a good friend of my parents. This uncle was a northeasterner who would come to our house from time to time. His character was also a little resistant to the upper, every time the sport was rectified. They called themselves “old athletes”. Later on, it seems that in ’74, during the criticism of Lin and Confucius, he was again rectified, and he hanged himself.
The first question I asked at that time was, “What is the reason for your revolution? These peasants’ lives have not changed, and your lives are so painful. People like my parents’ generation, the first generation to build a revolutionary government, were rectified one at a time in later movements. Regardless of what you expected back then, this result is so different, so what is the significance of this revolution?
I think this revolution in China should be rejected in its entirety. You say who benefited, right? This is the conclusion that a person like me, who comes from a red family, has come to after experiencing a huge contrast and a huge shock. If you are a person who is willing to think, you are hardly going to avoid such comparisons. In fact, I was also a silly little girl back then, but this contrast makes you think.
[In 1988, Li Jianglin came to the U.S. to study, starting from playing restaurant, she had to leave the ancestral shade of her family and go to herself step by step. in 1999, she listened to a speech by the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, in New York’s Central Park, and also met some local Tibetans in exile. She says it was probably some kind of fate that led her into the study of Tibetan history. The deeper the research, the more thorough her denial of this revolution became.]
First of all, we have to figure out what the Chinese Communist Party is all about. The Chinese Communist Party was established with the help of the Communist International. It sent a man, Vyshinsky, to China to establish the Chinese Communist Party organization.
In the spring of 1920, the Far East Bureau of the Russian Communist Party was established to establish the Communist Party in China and other countries, and in April, the Far East Bureau sent Vyshinsky to Beijing, under the name of Wu Tingkang, to meet with Li Dazhao and Chen Duxiu, then professors at Peking University, to convince them to form the Chinese Communist Party.
In other words, the Chinese Communist Party was not a spontaneous organization of the people, but a complete foreign agent, as mentioned in the “Report of Zhang Tailei on the Establishment of the Chinese Branch of the Far Eastern Secretariat of the Communist International” of June 1921, which discussed the organizational relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the Communist International. From the founding of the Chinese Communist Party until the Yan’an era, it was a branch of the Communist International in the Far East and was subordinate to the Communist International. All its major decisions, personnel changes, and the so-called Long March were approved by the Communist International.
All of this is now open research, and there is no mystery. Professor Shen Zhihua has several books, “Outline of the History of Sino-Soviet Relations,” “Mao’s Feud with Moscow,” and so on, which have very detailed records. So it is completely a propaganda caliber to say that the Chinese Communist Party is the choice of the Chinese people. It is not true. We must restore history. History tells us that the Chinese Communist Party was not the choice of the people; it was the Communist International and so few people who defected to a foreign organization and carried out a military subversion of the government of China at that time. In the process of this subversion, countless lives were lost.
In the course of my research, the greatest subversion of my perception would be the spate of Soviet repressions, the brutal killing of one’s own people, not only of the enemy. There are so many examples: Zhang Guotao’s suppression of the people in the Sichuan-Shaanxi base area, Mao Zedong’s suppression of his own people in Jiangxi when they fought the AB group, and some information, which is still secret, about the CCP’s brutality against people above the middle peasant level in the process of forcibly collecting food from the people in various base areas, and the cruelty in the process of collecting food in Yunnan and Sichuan in ’48 and ’49, which also triggered the local riots. one of the reasons.
You can see from this process that since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party until now, it has used the same method to carry out all its policies – violence, extremely brutal violence, just killing all the way through, and it is still like that now, killing whoever disobeys. From Lhasa in 1959 to Beijing in 1989, it was the same method, and the mass detention of Tibetans after the 1959 Lhasa incident swept the Tibetan elite almost clean, and the same way with the Uighurs. This control of the elite has been the same from the beginning of the anti-rightist movement to the present, either buy them off, or if they cannot be bought off and disobey, just find a crime to arrest and shoot them. It has not changed, not at all.
My mother never understood why I became like this. I tried for a while to make her understand that this revolution was wrong. But in my opinion, it was impossible for them to get out of their minds. If you think about it, my mother joined the Chinese Communist Party at the age of 18. After they entered this system, this system, they were systematically brainwashed and washed extremely thoroughly. Then she found out that this organization was everything to her, not just a material source, but also a spiritual source. When the organization doesn’t give you a guide, an order, a platform, they are at a loss as to what to do. She is now 90 years old and she has not had any other possibility of thinking in her life.
My mother came to the United States in her later years and stayed with me for eight months, watching the news broadcasts every day. Of course I would show her some other things too. She would have some thinking about some things, but this thinking could not leave this pattern of hers, and later I understood it completely. But all I can say is that this is not my path – you made what may be an optimal choice for you inside your time; I made my choice in my time, and I have the right and should make mine.
My choice is to reject it all. I refuse to accept your legacy.