The War in Korea (1950 – 1953), Vietnam (1955 – 1975), McCarthyism (1947 – 1957) and the Cold War with the USSR (1945 – 1991) set the stage for what may have contributed to mass deaths by starvation in China during the Great Leap Forward.
During the McCarthy era (1947 – 1957), thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies.
In 1950, since China fought alongside North Korea against allied UN forces under the leadership of the US, the United States implemented a “complete embargo” that forbade all financial transaction with Communist China.
The US also convinced many of its allies to join this “complete embargo” to cut China off from the world.
After the Korean war, the United States did not lift this embargo for the next twenty years (1949-1969), with a goal to disrupt, destabilize, and weaken China’s communist government by causing the people to suffer and this “complete embargo” was one of the tools to achieve this.
The US embargo on China was a “complete embargo”, whch certainly must have contributed to the death toll of the Great Famine, a factor never mentioned before.
High American government sources have admitted that the objective of the economic warfare was aimed at causing a breakdown of Communist China. The idea was that problems in the Chinese economy would lead to loss of support from the people causing the collapse of the Communist Republic. Source: China for all.info and Asia for Educators – Columbia.edu
This embargo was lifted in 1969, when Richard Nixon was President. Source: Washington Post.com
However, while people were starving in China and US officials were waiting for Communist China to collapse, Washington D.C. had no idea how much suffering the Chinese people were capable of enduring and that even with the drought and famine, most Chinese were better off than they had been in centuries.
The evidence that the quality of life was improving was the fact that in 1949 when Mao came to power, life expectancy in China was 35, and by 1960 life expectancy had improved to age 60 or almost double what it had been in 1949, while the population of China increased by 19.5% with child mortality rates improving dramatically.
Field-studies in the 1930s revealed that in all parts of China, large numbers of landless laborers lived in tremendous poverty, and their situation had not changed since the sixteenth century. Source: China for all.info
If you want more evidence, I refer you to Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth”.
We may never know how much of an impact America’s “economic warfare” against China crippled its ability to import food to feed its starving people in a time of drought and famine. In fact, this may have also influenced Mao’s decisions since he wanted the world to see China as strong and capable of feeding itself.
If anyone pulled a trigger on China’s people, it was not Mao. It was Washington D.C. fueled by fear of everything Communist caused by the Korean War, Vietnam, McCarthyism’s Red Scare and the Cold War with Communist Russia.
Continued on September 3, 2011 in China’s Great Famine (1958 – 1961) Fact or Fiction – Part 4 or return to Part 2
Recommended reading on this topic for those who seek the unblemished truth: From the Monthly Review, Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great Leap Forward? by Joseph Ball
From Griffith University, Australia, Poverty, by David C. Schak, Associate Professor
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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