Dissecting the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda: China’s Past and Today
(Minghui.org) The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is good at generating and spreading disinformation. Inside China, the CCP refers to the era prior to its rule as the “Old Society,” where people lived in poverty with no food, shelter, or clothing. By doing so, it claims that, without the CCP, the Chinese people would still be in poverty.
This lie has deceived many Chinese, who, under the CCP's totalitarian rule and brainwashed by the CCP-glorifying propaganda, have lost their ability to think independently. As a result, they ignore the human rights’ violations in China, including the persecution of Falun Gong and other minority groups. Similarly, when disasters such as coronavirus hit, people continue to believe the CCP’s narrative and are unaware of the imminent danger.
Looking at history, however, what the CCP says is simply untrue. In the decades before the CCP came to power, people were relatively prosperous and led good lives, with more freedom of belief and much less censorship.
Respect for Intellectuals
The Republic of China was created in 1912 when the Provisional Constitution was instituted to ensure freedom of speech and publication. At that time, China had over 150 independent newspapers. Even during the years when Yuan Shikai temporarily restored China’s imperial system from 1915 to 1916, there were still more than 130 newspapers. People openly criticized the then-government, including Yuan himself, without consequences. In today’s China, however, Chinese tycoon real estate Ren Zhiqiang was recently sentenced to 18 years in prison for remarks hostile to the top CCP leader.
Consistent with the atmosphere of political openness, intellectuals including teachers were well respected and well paid. By 1937 (when the Japanese army invaded China), for example, the average monthly salary was 400-600 yuan for a college professor, 160-200 yuan for an urban middle school teacher, and 22-55 yuan for an elementary school teacher. How did those wages translate into buying power? A regular worker’s monthly wage was about 10-40 yuan, while a family of four could enjoy a decent life on 60 yuan per month.
Moreover, there was freedom of speech and publication at the time. Despite its conflict with the CCP, the Kuomintang (KMT) allowed it to publish newspapers and books. These publications not only openly criticized the KMT but also mobilized students—through the Marxist and Bolshevik theories—to confront the government. How does that compare with the situation in today’s China? When doctors casually shared information about the coronavirus outbreak through social media—an act in line with their responsibility to save lives—they were severely punished. The same thing happened to independent reporters who dared to speak the truth. As advocated by the CCP, from Mao Zedong to its current leaders, any resistance or opposing remarks must be eradicated even before their germination.
Between 1912 and 1949 when the CCP seized power, China faced a series of crises, from the warlord conflicts during the Beiyang Government (1912-1928) to the Chinese Civil War between the CCP and the KMT (1928-1949), not to mention the Japanese invasion (1937-1945). Although 20-40 million people were injured or died during the Sino-Japanese War, plus a famine in Henan Province in 1942, for the most part, people had no problem finding food.
According to a Laogong Yuekan (Labor Monthly) published in July 1934, the average monthly wage of a worker in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, was about 15 yuan. At that time, one yuan could buy 15 kilos (33 pounds) of rice or 4 kilos (8.8 pounds) of pork. So ordinary citizens were able to live relatively well.
Considering the lengthy wars in China, the relatively good standard of living was a remarkable feat, which was largely due to the openness of the political system. To attack the KMT and seize power, however, the CCP generated countless lies discrediting that reality and misleading the people generation by generation.
Chen Boda, a high-ranking CCP official and secretary to Mao Zedong, claimed that four big families of the KMT controlled China’s economy and amassed assets in the name of fighting the Japanese. Numerous pieces of evidence have proved such claims groundless. Documents released by Japanese intelligence showed that even Chiang Kai-shek, the top leader of the KMT, only had 66 million yuan ($8 million US).
In contrast, under the totalitarian rule of the CCP, corruption has become widespread at all government levels. Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou, two high-ranking military officials, were reported to jointly own a vault with 7.9 billion yuan (or $1.2 billion) besides other assets. Even lower-level officials have amassed enormous fortunes. One deputy mayor in Shanxi Province was reported to have amassed a total of 640 million yuan (or $95 million), which exceeds the combined annual income of 9 counties in poverty.
Even without these examples of “gray” income, China’s government officials’ travel and dining expenses amounted to 9 trillion (or $1.3 trillion) yuan per year. This far surpasses the entire amount budgeted for education and enough to bring all lower-income Chinese above the poverty line.
The Propaganda of Class Struggle
To establish and secure its rule, the CCP has always highlighted class struggle and depicted the wealthy as unethical and enemies of the state. This, however, can't be further from the truth.
Qin Hui and Gao Wangling, two historians from Tsinghua University and Renmin University of China, respectively, reexamined the CCP claim of “wealthy landlords owning 70-80% of the land.” They found that the number was no higher than 40%, meaning that over 60% of the lands was owned by regular farmers.
It was the same in the urban areas. Here is an example from Xunwu Investigation, a report by Mao Zedong himself in 1930. After an apprentice worked at a small business for three years and learned basic skills, he earned 40-50 yuan in the first year and 50-60 yuan in the second year. “Occasionally, the owner would give the entire business to him [the apprentice] to manage... Later on only part of the profit needed to be paid to the owner, often in the range of 10-30%.” Such a harmonious relationship between the business owner and the employee was the opposite of the notion of “class struggle” that the CCP portrayed about employees having to fight to earn a living.
The Dignity of Life
As described above, although the CCP claimed to liberate all people, the Chinese discovered what the reality was just the opposite. Over the past several decades, countless Chinese have lost their fortunes, freedom, or even lives since the regime took power. Following the Great Leap Forward in 1958, about 45 million died in the man-made famine (1959-1961) alone, a topic considered taboo for Chinese scholars even today.
The harm brought by the CCP is largely rooted in its lack of respect for life, which is evident in the CCP's destruction of China’s thousands-year-long history.
During the battle between warlords in Zhuzhou, Hebei Province, in October 1927, for example, one month passed and there was hardly any food left in the city. Coordinated by the Red Cross, both sides ceased hostilities to let the women and children out before resuming the conflict. When the food ran out at the end of two months, the two sides settled their differences without holding any civilians hostage.
Fast forward to 1948 and what the CCP did to the City of Changchun in Jilin Province during the Siege of Changchun between May and October of that year. The CCP army did not allow civilians to leave to get food. With a population of about 500,000 at the time, it was estimated 200,000 starved to death.
But such topics remain taboo in China. What the younger generations learn in their textbooks is that the CCP army successfully liberated the city of Changchun without killing anyone or firing a single bullet. When military writer Zhang Zhenglong documented this event in Xuebai Xiehong (Cold Snow, Hot Blood), chronicling the deaths of 150,000 civilians, he was detained and the book was banned.
Throughout the dynasties in China, until the Republic of China, traditional values were maintained by the local communities. Even under the rule of the KMT, the government’s intervention in local affairs was restricted to the county level. For the CCP, however, the Party organization goes deep into every village in the countryside and every street in the urban areas.
China’s budget to “maintain stability” was estimated to be 1.37 trillion yuan (or $200 billion) in 2018. With state-of-the-art censoring tools, especially security cameras and Wechat, it tracks every move its citizens make. How long will this tyrannical rule last? Time will tell.