Mao a mass killer - Massey lecturer19 May 2006
By GRANT MILLERBrainwashed Chinese students should learn the truth about Mao Zedong, a senior Massey University Chinese lecturer said.
Dong Li said the man the students -adore is a mass murderer.
Mr Li is flabbergasted Chinese students spoke so reverently of Mao, glossing over his murderous regime and comparing him with Jesus Christ, as they protested the lampooning of him on the cover of a student newspaper this week.
He said students have been brainwashed by the Chinese government, which keeps the education sector and media under tight control.
"Mao is depicted as a genius. He was a genius - an evil genius, like Hitler," Mr Li said yesterday.
"Seventy million people died because of his cruel and stupid rule."
Mr Li is a lecturer in Chinese language, modern Chinese society and literature at Massey.
And while he agrees there is racial discrimination against Chinese in New Zealand, Mr Li said he was not impressed that Chinese students angrily confronted the staff of Chaff after the student newspaper depicted Mao in a dress as a send-up of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Mr Li said Chinese students should respect other people's opinions.
"When you are here in this Western democracy, you should not study only science, economics and finance.
"I welcome their presence here, but I advise them to take advantage of opportunities to learn the truth about modern China."
That's what Mr Li did about 20 years ago.
He left China to study the compiling of dictionaries in Leeds, England, and read widely in the library while he was there.
"This opened my eyes."
He led protests at North Arizona University, in the United States, over the Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy students in 1989.
"One of the things I hate is the huge portrait of Mao in Tiananmen Square."
It's hypocritical that the communist government continues to promote the Mao personality cult while dismantling most of his reforms, Mr Li said.
The image of Mao is used to prop up the legitimacy of Communist Party rule, Mr Li said, but the reality of Mao's leadership is kept quiet.
"The Great Leap Forward was 100-percent folly, which resulted in 30 to 40 million people - mostly peasants - starving to death."
Mao's Cultural Revolution forced the closure of schools and universities while large numbers of teachers, professors, journalists, engineers, officials and doctors were persecuted, he said.
"At least 2 million people were murdered or forced to commit suicide."
Books were burned while temples, churches and cultural relics were also destroyed.
The ancestral home of philosopher Confucius was dismantled.
"All this should be directly blamed on Mao," Mr Li said.
"He was a cultural destroyer, a murderer - even his personal life was full of dirty womanising. He is not a model for Chinese youth."
Ironically, the day Massey students staged their protest - May 16 - was the 40th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution.
"And the man who inflicted untold suffering on tens of millions of people was none other than Mao."
Mr Li said a student's comment about Mao's being equivalent to Jesus was ridiculous.
"It's totally muddle-headed and stupid. Not even Mao himself would say that."
Calling Mao the father of modern China was also wrong, Mr Li said.
"The father of modern China is Dr Sun Yat-sen, who overthrew the imperial dynasty of Qing."
He said the students who protested come from a country where history books are approved by the government's propaganda department.
"They do not know the truth. Some don't want to know."