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uni'wissen 01-2016_ENG

Beijing, China, August 1976. The 57-year-old worker Ms. Wang goes to a meeting with her production brigade. The topic is the devastating earthquake that recently struck the city of Tang- shan, but Ms. Wang is having trouble concentrating. She has heard a terrible rumor: The Chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Mao Zedong, whose colossal portrait adorns the gate to Tian- anmen Square, is said to have died. She leans anxiously to the man sitting next to her, Mr. Hao, and says, “Have you heard the news? Chairman Mao is dead.” A short time later she is arrested for slander. Mr. Hao has dutifully reported her words to a party cadre. Ms. Wang is now a con- demned counterrevolutionary. Forty years later, Mao’s portrait still hangs over the same gate. The CPC is still in power as the state party. There is hardly a family in China today that was not affected in some way by Mao’s politics. In the course of his political cam- paigns, millions and millions were arrested, sent to labor camps, executed, or starved to death. Ms. Wang was lucky: She was released from custody and rehabilitated – half a year after Mao died for real in September 1976. A Beijing court ruled that she had been confused by the death of another well-known party functionary and attrib- uted the misunderstanding to her lack of educa- tion. Her case file is now in the possession of Daniel Leese at the University of Freiburg. The Sinology professor is studying how the CPC has dealt with the injustices suffered by millions of citizens under Mao’s dictatorship. “In light of the large number of victims, answer- ing this question is crucial if one wishes to gain an understanding of Chinese society,” says Leese. Roughly 36 million people and their relatives were persecuted for political reasons during the Cultural Revolution alone. In this last large-scale campaign, Mao called for the destruction of his uni wissen 01 2016 How the Communist Party of China has dealt with the Maoist era The Dictator’s Echo by Yvonne Troll 28 uni wissen 012016