Great Famine Toll Contested as Mao’s Birthday Nears
Chris Buckley notes efforts, as the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth approaches, to challenge estimates that tens of millions starved as a result of the Great Leap Forward. From The New York Times:
“The big rumor that 30 million people starved to death in the three years of hardship,” said a headline in September in The Global Times, an influential party-run tabloid.
The headline accompanied a commentary by a mathematician, Sun Jingxian, who has won publicity for his claim that at most 2.5 million people died of “nutritional fatalities” during the Great Leap Forward. He argues that bigger estimates are an illusion based on flawed statistics.
[…] Few if any mainstream historians place any credence in the revisionists’ claims, but they express alarm that the party, which in recent decades has tolerated more open research into the period, seems to be encouraging a retreat into deceptive orthodoxies.
“I’ve long been maligned and attacked for my research, but now there are these people who basically deny that there was ever a mass famine,” Yang Jisheng, 72, a historian and former Xinhua News Agency journalist in Beijing who has been the main target of the attacks, said by telephone. […] [Source]