1984, Brave New World, these are the books that come to mind when thinking about Out of Mao’s Shadow. Complete, calculated social control. Even astounding and direct similarities can be drawn between 1984‘s government’s manipulation of history and the Chinese government’s control of information. While at first glance there’s a difference in severity of action between this fiction and non-fiction group, Pan brings to light that the similarities are actually nearing in severity. It’s through overt gradual, apparently logical and benevolent circumventions of civil and human rights and covert, obviously illegal acts (such as the murder of Sun Zhigang) that a government slips into a position of sustainable, absolute dictatorship. Pan attempts to delegitimize the practices of the Chinese government by revealing these acts that were attempted to be kept secret. It’s commonly found that this is he only way to make progress on the fight against the rise of this sort of evil, as the public infringement of the common people’s human rights is calculated and can be well defended and upheld.
In understanding and publicizing these atrocities, it’s appropriate, necessary, and sufficient to uncover them through anecdotal cases, personal stories. While this is not always the case because an anecdotal evidence of tyranny does not imply the existence of tyrannical rule, Pan manages to penetrate each area of the Chinese government and convince the reader that this disregard for personal rights is a deeply ingrained consequence of their ideology.
While my outlook on the actions of the Chinese government was greatly affected by the stories Pan told, it was mainly supplementation to my first encounter with the atrocities of the government which was when I was told a few years ago about the personal story of Ping Fu, the CEO of the small Chapel Hill company Geomagic, a company my dad was employed by a few years ago. Around 1977, Fu spent two years in the countryside researching the one-child policy, which was newly implemented at that time. When she submitted her research, which contained stories of female infanticide and its pervasiveness, to her supervisor at Suzhou University, she gained international media attention. Her research was published in Shanghai’s largest newspaper, People’s Daily, and she consequently was exiled to the United States.
The more direct connection made the atrocities of the Chinese government far more real to me, and after being told I did a lot of research on the Chinese government and their oppression.
How has the Chinese government managed to survive these attacks by only retreating temporarily but never surrendering?
Is the Chinese government currently improving? To what extent has criticism and exposure restricted the Chinese government’s future actions?