Ignored by Mainstream Press: China’s Catastrophic Famine

The Other China: Hunger Part I - The Three Red Flags of Death

The mainstream press is a powerful force for information, but can also be a destructive force when it ignores and covers up information — such as in the case of China’s catastrophic famine under Mao Tse Tung.

From roughly 1959-1961, China suffered a catastrophic famine. Official government figures put the number of deaths at 15 million, but today, scholars estimate it at 20-43 million. The true figure may never be known.  The subject is still taboo in China, where it  is referred to euphemistically as the Three Years of Natural Disasters. Yet it’s clear that this famine was mostly man-made.

Few outside China knew what was going on. The country was closed to the outside world, and visiting foreigners were carefully supervised. Indeed, many urban Chinese had no idea just how bad the situation was, as the countryside suffered the most. Over a ten-year period from 1965-75, Miriam and Ivan D. London interviewed Chinese refugees across the border in Hong Kong and doggedly reported on the real story. Their reports were read avidly by many China watchers, but mostly ignored by the mainstream press. 

The Other China: Hunger Part I – The Three Red Flags of Death

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