By Yining Su
Zhu Rongji, Premier of the People’s Republic of China 1998-2003, was purged during the Anti-Rightist Movement.
A vice-director of the China Academy of Social Science (CASS) has claimed that “not a single person” was persecuted during the Anti-Rightist Movement, according to the SCMP.
In an article in the Party journal Seeking Truth, Li Shenming wrote:
In the 1957 Anti-Rightist Movement, 550,000 were labelled as rightists, but not a single person was persecuted. However, the [movement] was described as a bloody one by media controlled by international capital.
The Anti-Rightist Movement, which lasted between 1957 and 1959, was a campaign to purge the Communist Party of China of those who showed capitalistic tendencies, or were critical of the Party generally.
Li’s statement seems strange, particularly as one person who was purged during the Anti-Rightist Movement was Zhu Rongji, later Premier of China from 1998 to 2003. He’s still alive. He can probably tell you about the time he was labelled a “rightist”, stripped of his leadership position, and sent off to work as a teacher.
But maybe this kind of thing isn’t “bloody” enough for Li. Maybe Li thinks being purged of your party membership, demoted, stuck with a politically undesirable label and sent off to work at some lowly position isn’t so bad. Maybe Li thinks that’s not persecution.
Well, maybe Zhu was a bad example. Zhu worked as a teacher after being purged, unlike the hundreds of thousands who were sent to work in “re-education through labour camps” without adequate food.
But maybe this isn’t bloody enough for Li, either. After all, a person who dies of exhaustion and starvation doesn’t bleed.
By the way, the system of “re-education through labour” still exists today.
Update 14.30: On Twitter, Donald Clarke, professor at George Washington University Law School, points out that the SCMP’s translation of Li’s speech is seriously questionable:
@limlouisa Unfortunately, SCMP has *completely* mistranslated the Chinese. He said not a single person was put to death (处死).
— Donald Clarke (@donaldcclarke) May 15, 2013