Wang Bing’s shocking eight-hour oral history of the Jiabiangou ‘re-education’ camp is a gruelling – and necessary – account
Cooking was evidently a key skill for postwar China’s political dissenters – a good proportion of the interviewees in Wang Bing’s monumental oral history of Jiabiangou “re-education” camp survived only because of the extra scraps they scrounged working in the kitchens.
They had been sent to the Chinese equivalent of Siberia as part of the 1957 Anti-Rightist Campaign tabled by Mao Zedong to purge the country of Kuomintang influences, but which soon ended up sweeping up property owners, Christians, anyone who enjoyed exercising their critical faculties and, in one case here, a boy who drew tears on a portrait of the great leader. Between 500,000 and 1.3 million were caught in this ideological dragnet, 3,000 of whom found themselves doing hard labour and starving on the blasted plains at Jiabiangou, in Gansu province. Just 500 came back.
Link : Dead Souls review – monumental study of China’s political brutality