Transcript: Jung Chang, Jon Halliday on their book Mao: The Unkown Story | Apr 15, 2006

Steve is in his thirties, has short brown hair and wears a brown suit with a
white shirt and a red and navy blue paisley tie.

Steve sits across from Julie and Jon who sit in a library and speak.

Steve says WELL, THERE'S NO
OTHER WAY OF PUTTING THIS.
YOUR BOOK IS BASICALLY AN 800
PAGE UTTER DEMOLITION OF THE
MYTH OF MAO TSE-TUNG.
LET'S GO THROUGH SOME OF THOSE
MYTHS TODAY.
I GUESS THE FIRST OF WHICH IS
THAT HE HAD AN OVERARCHING
CONCERN FOR THE CONDITIONS IN
WHICH CHINA'S PEASANTS WERE
LIVING.
WHAT DID YOU FIND ON THAT
FRONT?

The caption reads "Jung Chang. Author, "Mao: The Unknown Story."

Chang is in her fifties and has long black hair that is worn half up and half
down. She wears diamond earrings and a red jacket.

Chang says HE DIDN'T CARE
ABOUT THE PEASANTS.
YOU KNOW, WHEN THE PEASANTS
WERE STARVING AND HE JUST
GAVE ORDERS THAT
THEY SHOULD BE EDUCATED TO EAT
LESS AND WHEN HE WAS TOLD THAT
THE PEASANTS WERE EATING ONLY
TREE LEAVES HE SAID HAVING ONLY
TREE LEAVES TO EAT SO BE IT.
AND WHEN HE WAS TOLD THAT TENS
OF MILLIONS OF PEASANTS HAD
DIED BECAUSE HE WAS EXPORTING
THE FOOD THEY WERE DEPENDENT ON
FOR SURVIVAL TO RUSSIA TO BUY
MILITARY HARDWARE FOR HIS
AMBITION TO BECOME THE MILITARY
SUPER POWER AND DOMINATE THE
WORLD AND HE SAID FOR ALL HIS
PROJECTS TO TAKE OFF HALF OF
CHINA MAY WELL HAVE TO DIE.

Steve says JON, WHY SUCH AN
APPARENT LACK OF REGARD FOR THE
CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE?

The caption changes to "Jon Halliday. Author, "Mao: The Unknown Story."

Halliday is in his fifties and has grey hair and silver glasses. He wears a grey
collared shirt and black sweater.

Halliday says I THINK HE
ACTUALLY REALLY DIDN'T CARE
ABOUT ANYBODY ELSE EXCEPT
HIMSELF.AND IN THE
BOOK WE QUOTE THIS DOCUMENT HE
WROTE WHEN HE WAS 24 WHICH IS A
VERY EXTRAORDINARY DOCUMENT
SAYING YOU KNOW I REJECT ALL
CONCEPTS OF CONSCIENCE AND
RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS OTHER
PEOPLE.
HE KNOWS ABOUT MORALITY.
HE KNOW MORALITY EXISTS AND HE
ACTUALLY MENTIONS THIS BUT
SOLELY IN ORDER TO SAY I REJECT
ALL MORALITY.
I SIMPLY WILL NOT GIVE A HOOT
ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE AND ONE
COULD SEE THAT ALSO IN HIS
ATTITUDE TOWARDS HIS MOTHER
WHEN HIS MOTHER WAS DYING,
TOWARDS HIS WIVES AND HIS
CHILDREN AND THEN TOWARDS THE
CHINESE PEOPLE AS A WHOLE.

Steve says HE UM, HE CLAIMED TO
BE A MARXIST LENINIST.
DO YOU THINK HE WAS?

Halliday says NO, I DON'T
THINK HE WAS.
I THINK HE USED MARXISM AS A
USEFUL TOOL BECAUSE IT WAS THE
IDEOLOGY OR ALLEGEDLY THE
IDEOLOGY THAT WAS IN POWER IN
THE SOVIET UNION AT THE TIME IN
RUSSIA WHEN HE WAS RISING TO
POWER AND SO HE USED IT AS A
KIND OF BLUDGEON.
YOU KNOW IF HE DISAGREED WITH
SOMEBODY HE'D SAY WHAT YOU'RE
SAYING IS ANTI-MARXIST SO
YOU'RE A RIGHT DEVIATION AS TO
WHATEVER.
AS A WAY OF KIND OF EXPELLING
THEM FROM A FORM OF ORTHODOXY.
BUT I DON'T THINK HE CARED
ABOUT -- I MEAN, THERE WERE
SOME IDEALS IN MARXISM, I MEAN,
LET'S SAY THE IDEA OF EQUALITY
WHICH IS WHY A LOT OF PEOPLE
JOINED THE COMMUNIST PARTY FOR
IN CHINA AND WAY BACK AS LATE
AS THE LATE 1920s MAO DECIDED
EQUALITY WAS A VERY BAD IDEA
AND HE OUTLAWED IT INSIDE THE
COMMUNIST PARTY AND BASHED,
PUNISHED PEOPLE WHO ADVOCATED
EQUALITY.

Steve says NOW THERE'S ANOTHER
BIOGRAPHER WHO WROTE, "THERE IS
NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER THAT MAO
TOOK PLEASURE IN KILLING OR
TORTURING."
AND THE BOOK YOU HAVE WRITTEN
SUGGESTS THAT HE WAS A SADISTIC
THUG.
WHERE'S THE DIFFERENCE HERE?

Chang says WELL, I MEAN,
FOR EXAMPLE WITH HIS NUMBER
TWO, UM, PRESIDENT LIU SHAOQI
WHO AMBUSHED MAO IN 1962 AND
FORCED MAO TO STOP HIS POLICIES
WHICH LED TO
TENS OF MILLIONS OF DEATH.
MAO’S FURIOUS WITH HIM.
AND WANTED
REVENGE.
AND THIS WAS WHAT THE CULTURAL
REVOLUTION PRIMARILY WAS ABOUT
IN 1966.
AND DURING THE CULTURAL
REVOLUTION PRESIDENT LIU WAS
TORTURED AND TORMENTED IN
GRUESOME WAYS.
FOR EXAMPLE AT ONE DENUNCIATION
MEETING LIU AND HIS WIFE WE
SUBJECT TO BEATINGS AND
KICKINGS AND IN OUR BOOK WE
HAVE -- WE HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH OF
LIU BEING ABUSED AND BEING
TRAMPLED ON THE GROUND AND
THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS MAO HAD
CAMERAS ROLLING TO FILM THIS
MOMENT FOR HIM TO SEE AND HE
HAD PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN AND HE
HAD A PERSONAL OBSERVER WHICH
WAS HIS OWN DAUGHTER TO OBSERVE
THE LIU'S TORMENT.

Steve says YOU ALSO WRITE IN
HERE THAT HIS AIM WAS TO SCARE
AND BRUTALISE THE ENTIRE
POPULATION AND YOU SAY, JON,
THAT HE WENT FURTHER THAN
EITHER STALIN OR HITLER.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?

Halliday says I MEAN, THAT
HE DIDN'T JUST USE VIOLENCE AND
TORTURE YOU KNOW, IN THE WAY
THEY DID.I MEAN,
SYSTEMATICALLY ALL THREE OF
THEM BUT HE DID ONE VERY
SPECIFIC THING.
HE PUSHED TORTURE AND VIOLENCE
OUT INTO THE PUBLIC ARENA.
I MEAN, STALIN AND HITLER DID
MAINLY THEY ALMOST ENTIRELY
USED ALLUDES TO INFLICT
VIOLENCE AND INFLICTED
VIOLENCE, TORTURE AND DEATH IN
SECRET, I MEAN, AWAY FROM THE
PUBLIC EYE.
MAO PUT ALL THAT OUT RIGHT OUT
FRONT AND HE ALSO MORE THAN
ENCOURAGED HIM, HE PUT HUGE
PRESSURE ON THE PUBLIC AS A
WHOLE TO TAKE PART IN ACTS OF
VIOLENCE AND TO DO IT IN FRONT
OF THE FAMILIES AND WOMEN AND
CHILDREN ALL OVER CHINA DURING
THE PERIOD HE WAS TAKING POWER.

Steve says I'M JUST CURIOUS,
DURING THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION,
WHERE WERE YOU?

Chang says I WAS IN CHINA.
UM, I GREW UP IN THE CULTURAL
REVOLUTION AND INDEED I SAW YOU
KNOW, EARLIER WHAT JON SAID IN
THIS MAO BROUGHT TORTURE AND
GHASTLY SCENES INTO THE PUBLIC
ARENA.
WHEN I WAS IN CHINA I SAW THESE
HORRIBLE THINGS, YOU KNOW, THE
DENUNCIATION MEETINGS WHEN THE
VICTIMS WERE STOOD ON THE
STAGE.
THEIR ARMS WERE TWISTED
FEROCIOUSLY BACK AND THEIR
HEADS WERE VIOLENTLY PUSHED
DOWN.
THEY WERE BEATEN, KICKED.
WE ALL SAW THESE THINGS.
MY PARENTS WERE VICTIMS OF THE
CULTURAL REVOLUTION.
MY MOTHER WENT TO OVER 100 OF
THESE DENUNCIATION MEETINGS.
SHE WAS MADE TO KNEEL ON BROKEN
GLASS.
SHE WAS PARADED IN THE STREETS
WHERE CHILDREN YOU KNOW SPAT AT
HER, THREW STONES AT HER AND
UM, SHE AND MY FATHER WERE
EXECUT -- EXILED TO THE UM,
CAMPS AND MY FATHER DIED
PREMATURELY IN THE CULTURAL
REVOLUTION AND MY GRANDMOTHER
ALSO DIED IN THE CULTURAL
REVOLUTION.
UH, I WAS EXILED TO THE EDGE OF
THE HIMALAYAS AND WORKED AS A
PEASANT AND AS A BAREFOOT
DOCTOR.
UM, A BAREFOOT DOCTOR WAS A
DOCTOR WITHOUT ANY TRAINING
BECAUSE MAO SAID THE MORE BOOKS
YOU READ THE MORE STUPID YOU
BECOME.HE LOVED READING
MAO.
AND HE HAD THESE HUGE BEDS.
HALF OF IT WOULD BE PILED A
FOOT HIGH WITH
BOOKS SO HE COULD WAKE UP, ROLL
OVER, PICK UP A BOOK AND START
READING BUT HE WOULDN'T ALLOW
HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF CHINESE
TO READ.

Steve says JUNG, IN 1938 HE
BEGINS THE WELL DOCUMENTED LONG
MARCH.
WHAT WERE HIS INTENTIONS AT THE
BEGINNING OF THE LONG MARCH?

Chang says WELL, YES, 1934.

Steve says 34, I'M SORRY.

Chang says SORRY, ACTUALLY,
MAO WAS NEARLY LEFT BEHIND ON
THE LONG MARCH BECAUSE HIS
COLLEAGUES COULDN'T STAND HIM.
UM, HE WAS A DICTATOR AND HE
COULDN'T FIT INTO A COLLECTIVE
LEADERSHIP SO THEY WANTED TO
LEAVE HIM BEHIND.
IT WAS MOSCOW WHO MADE SURE
THAT MAO WAS TAKEN ON THE LONG
MARCH.
HIS COLLEAGUES WERE VETOED.
UM, THE GOAL OF THE COMMUNISTS
WAS TO MOVE FROM SOUTHEAST
CHINA TO THE NORTHWEST NEAR THE
RUSSIAN BORDER TO RECEIVE ARMS
SUPPLIES FROM THE RUSSIANS AND
THIS IS IT'S A TOTAL MYTH THAT
SOMEHOW THE CHINESE COMMUNISTS
MADE IT TO POWER WITHOUT
RUSSIAN ASSISTANCE.
IN FACT, IT WAS STALIN WHO
ACTUALLY PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN
BRINGING THEM TO POWER AND UM,
AND MAO UM, THERE WAS ANOTHER
MYTH THAT MAO HAD WALKED THIS
6,000 MILES LIKE AN ORDINARY
SOLDIER EDGAR SNOW WROTE.
BUT IN FACT, MAO WAS CARRIED ON
THE LITTER MOST OF THE WAY.
HE HAD ACTUALLY DESIGNED HIS
LITTER TO MAKE SURE THAT HE
COULD LIE COMFORTABLY, BEING
SHIELDED FROM THE RAIN AND THE
SUN.

Steve says THE CONVENTIONAL
WISDOM HAS ALWAYS BEEN CHINA
DOES NOT HAVE ANY PRETENSIONS
BEYOND ITS OWN BORDERS
BASICALLY.
TIBET, Hong Kong, YOU KNOW,
IT'S NEIGHBOURS ONLY BUT NOT
WORLD DOMINATION.
YOU HAVE PAINTED A VERY
DIFFERENT PICTURE OF MAO AS
SOMEBODY WHO WAS IN FACT BENT
ON GLOBAL DOMINATION, WHY DO
YOU SAY THAT?

Chang says IN FACT, THIS
WAS THE CONCLUSION AFTER 10
YEARS RESEARCH.
I MEAN, YOU KNOW I DIDN'T KNOW
THAT MYSELF WHEN I WAS WRITING
WILD SWANS.
I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS MAO'S
GOAL AND I THOUGHT MYSELF THAT
MAO WAS DOING ALL HIS
PRIORITIES IN CHINA, HE WAS
INWARD LOOKING.
HE WASN'T OUT TO DOMINATE THE
WORLD BUT WE JUST DISCOVERED
THAT WAS HIS SINGLE-MINDED GOAL
AFTER HE TOOK POWER IN 1949.
I MEAN, THAT WAS WHY HE HELPED

- HE PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN
STARTING THE KOREAN WAR.
TO GET THIS SORT OF MILITARY
HARDWARE OUT OF STALIN BY
PROVIDING CHINESE MANPOWER AND
THIS WAS WHY HE STARVED 38
MILLION PEOPLE TO DEATH BECAUSE
HE WAS EXPORTING THE FOOD TO
RUSSIA TO BUY THE MILITARY
HARDWARE AND THIS WAS WHY HE
INVITED NIXON TO CHINA IN 1972
BECAUSE BY THEN HE HAD FALLEN
OUT WITH THE RUSSIANS.
THE SOURCE OF HIS SUPPLY FOR
MILITARY HARDWARE AND HE WAS
TRYING TO GET YOU KNOW, TO CON
THE SORT OF THE MILITARY
HARDWARE MILITARY SECRETS OUT
OF AMERICA.

Halliday says I MEAN, I DID
NOT KNOW UNTIL WE GOT INTO THIS
BOOK THAT MAO HAD ACTUALLY SAID
THINGS LIKE WE MUST SET UP AN
EARTH CONTROL COMMITTEE.

Halliday says YOU KNOW, HE
SAID THINGS OF COURSE BECAUSE
THERE'S A PUBLIC MAO, THE
AIRBRUSHED MAO AND THEN THERE'S
THE REAL MAO BUT IN PRIVATE OR
TO HIS COLLEAGUES HE WAS SAYING
WE MUST SET UP AN EARTH CONTROL
COMMITTEE. AND AT ONE
POINT HE WAS DISCUSSING WITH
HIS MILITARY LEADERS YOU KNOW,
BUILDING SHIPS TO BE ABLE TO
LAND IN SAN FRANCISCO.
YOU KNOW, HE WAS THINKING.
I MEAN, HE DID THINK BIG AND HE
THOUGHT IN A VERY UNCONSTRAINED
MANNER.

Steve says RUSSIANS NOW KNOW THE
TRUTH ABOUT STALIN.
DO THE CHINESE NOW KNOW THE
TRUTH ABOUT MAO?

Halliday says NO, THEY DON'T
AND IN FACT, THE TRUTH IS VERY
CAREFULLY CONCEALED.
I MEAN, ONE OF THE THINGS WE
DESCRIBE IN THE BOOK IS WHAT A
TERRIFIC EFFORT MAO PUT INTO
BUILDING UP HIS OWN CULT OF
PERSONALITY AND A MYTH ABOUT
HIS OWN BEHAVIOUR YOU KNOW, HOW
HE CAME TO POWER, WHAT HE DID
IN POWER AND THE CURRENT REGIME
PROCLAIMS ITSELF TO BE
BASICALLY THE HEIR OF MAO AND
WHAT'S CALLED MAO TSE-TUNG
THOUGHT WHICH IS MAOISM OR
MAOIST IDEAS IS ACTUALLY
WRITTEN INTO THE CHINESE
CONSTITUTION AND IS THE
OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE
COMMUNIST PARTY AND SO IN
EFFECT THE CURRENT REGIME
DOESN'T WANT PEOPLE TO FIND
OUT.
IT MAKES IT VERY DIFFICULT FOR
ANYBODY TO FIND OUT WHAT MAO
REALLY DID AND WHOLE AREAS OF
MAO'S LIFE AND ACTIVITY ARE YOU
KNOW, BARRED FROM
INVESTIGATION.

Steve says IS THIS BOOK
AVAILABLE IN CHINA?

Halliday says NOT -- NOT
OFFICIALLY.
I MEAN, WE KNOW IT'S REGARDED
AS UH, FORBIDDEN OR BANNED
WHATEVER WORD AND OF COURSE
THEY DON'T WANT TO MAKE A
PUBLIC PROCLAMATION TO THAT
EFFECT AND SOME COPIES HAVE GOT
IN BUT THEY DON'T -- YOU CAN
REGARD IT AS BANNED I THINK IS
FAIR ENOUGH.
YES.

Chang says YES, AND THEY
DID TEAR THE COPIES OF THE BOOK
REVIEW IN FOR EXAMPLE THE

Chang says ECONOMIST OF
LONDON FROM THE COPIES ON THE
NEWS STAND IN
CHINA.
YOU KNOW, PHYSICALLY TEARING
OFF THE COPIES.
TEARING UP THE PAGES THAT
MENTIONED OUR BOOK.
I THINK THE REGIME DOESN'T WANT
OUR BOOK TO BE KNOWN AT ALL.

Steve says THE OBITUARY IN THE
NEW YORK TIMES SAID "HE WAS A
CHINESE PATRIOT, A COMBATIVE
REVOLUTIONARY, A FERVENT
EVANGELIST, A MARXIST THEORIST,
A SOLDIER, STATESMAN, POET, AND
ABOVE ALL ELSE A MORALIST WHO
DEEPLY BELIEVED THAT MAN'S
GOODNESS MUST COME AHEAD OF HIS
MERE ECONOMIC PROGRESS."

Chang says MY GOODNESS.

Steve says HOW ACCURATE DO YOU
THINK THAT WAS?

Chang says OH, WELL.
(Chuckling)
THERE WAS -- NOT A WORD IN THAT
IS TRUE.
I MEAN, YOU KNOW OUR BOOK IN A
WAY IS UH, A DIMINISHING OF ALL
THAT MYTH.
I USED TO FEEL VERY ANGRY WHEN
I HEARD THESE THINGS.
WHEN I FIRST CAME TO THE WEST.
UM, YOU KNOW, I WENT TO ENGLAND
IN 1978 AND I WAS JUST SO ANGRY
AND SO ANGRY THAT I DIDN'T WANT
TO SAY I WAS CHINESE.
I SAID I WAS SOUTH KOREAN
BECAUSE I DIDN'T WANT TO HAVE
PEOPLE SINGING THE PRAISE OF
MAO TO MY FACE.
UM, AND UM, AND THEN I WROTE
WILD SWANS.
I THINK THAT WAS THAT HELPED I
THINK MAYBE CHANGING SOME
PEOPLE'S VIEWS BY YOU KNOW,
TELLING THE STORIES OF MY OWN
LIFE IN CHINA UNDER MAO AND THE
LIFE OF MY FAMILY.
UM, BUT OF COURSE THAT WAS JUST
A STORY OF ONE FAMILY.
IN FACT, MY FAMILY WAS
EXTRAORDINARILY PRIVILEGED.
IN PARTICULAR MY OWN CHILDHOOD
WAS EXTRAORDINARILY PRIVILEGED
COMPARED TO THE VAST MAJORITY
OF CHINESE WHO HAD FAR WORSE
LIVES THAN I MYSELF HAD AND
THEN WE WROTE THIS BOOK THE
BIOGRAPHY OF MAO AND I THINK WE
HAVE DOCUMENTED ALL THE THINGS
THAT MAO DID TO HIS PEOPLE AND
THE WELL OVER 17 MILLION DEATHS
HE CAUSED THE CHINESE DIRECTLY
UM, IN PEACETIME AND I HOPE WE
HAVE DOCUMENTED THE FACTS WELL
ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE NOT TO HAVE
THOSE UM, MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT
MAO AND WHAT REALLY TURNS MY
STOMACH IS SEEING MAO'S
PORTRAIT STILL ON TIANANMEN
SQUARE BECAUSE THAT IS THE
POLICY OF THE COMMUNIST STATE
CHINA TODAY AND THE REGIME IS
STILL CLAIMING TO BE MAO'S HEIR
AND THIS TO ME IS LIKE HAVING
THE PORTRAIT OF HITLER STILL
DOMINATING THE CENTRE OF BERLIN
AND THE GERMAN LEADERS CLAIMING
TO BE THE HEIRS OF HITLER AND
THAT'S JUST TOTALLY
UNACCEPTABLE AND THAT TURNS MY
STOMACH.

Watch: Jung Chang, Jon Halliday on their book Mao: The Unkown Story