My heart-breaking experience in Communist China
I am 82. When I was 11, the PLA came to my hometown and claimed that we were liberated. They taught the school children to sing their songs, especially the one that says “The sky in the liberated region is a bright sky”. We sang happily and even taught our family members to sing it after school.
We knew nothing about this “liberator”.
I went to junior high school the following autumn. It was out of the town, thus I moved and left home.
During a weekend in winter, I went back home from school and found everything was at odd.
The whole village was enveloped in a stern and scary atmosphere, and armed PLA soldiers were standing and watching on every crossroad.
When I finally got home, I found my grandmother had been detained. The only one left at home was my aunt. I was terrified.
Later I knew that’s because the CCP carried out land reform. They classified my grandmother as a “landlord”, the so-called exploiting class, a so-called “class enemy”.
From that point on, she had to knee down in front of the public and commit the sin the CCP imposed on her. She was since then assigned to do heavy labors like repairing the roads.
My grandmother was a very traditional Chinese woman. She spent her whole life serving her husband and teaching her kids at home, and she was a woman with bound feet, that’s a normal practice for women at her age.
She had never done such heavy labor in her life, and never suffered such insults and abuses.
All the suffers finally tortured her to death.
During the land reform, my grandparents’ properties, their lands and houses, were all distributed to the CCP activists. They moved into our yard and watched every move of us. They did not allow us to meet friends or contact relatives. They isolated us completely.
The CCP told us that landlords are exploiting class, saying peasants are poor because of landlords’ exploitation. That’s why they have sins, and criminals. The CCP ordered us to draw clear cut with my grandmother and must not show our sympathy on her.
But I really don’t understand, how come she became exploiting class?
What I’ve experienced is nothing to do with exploitation.
Let me tell you my version of the story.
Our big extended family lived in a very big courtyard house with 18 two-story houses. Half of the houses belonged to my grandparents, and the other half belonged to my grandfather’s siblings.
The courtyard had a history of nearly a century.
Our family’s great ancestor built this courtyard in Qing Dynasty. He was a military scholar and worked as a military official in the imperial court. He was very wealthy and built the courtyard. His two sons inherited his property, half for each.One of the sons has more and more decedents, but the other had only one son for generations to pass down the property until my grandfather.That’s why my grandfather’s family has half of the courtyard and his brother’s extended family share the other half.People from our clan have different talent; some are good at doing businesses and get rich, thus are wealthier than others. And we all live in harmony as a big family, there has never been an issue of who exploit whom.
As I lived with my grandmother, I had to confess every time there was a political movement. I was classified by the CCP as the “not trustworthy class”.
Our clan used to have many shared lands and earned good rental income. We used this income to hold ceremonies and rituals to worship our ancestors.
During major festivals like New Year’s Day, Lantern Festival, Tomb-Sweep Day, and Double Ninth Festival, people from our clan would gather together to worship ancestors.
After the ceremony, the offerings would be distributed to the participants, and then we would have all kinds of traditional activities and martial arts competitions. It was very fun time for everyone, and people loved it. We were so strongly together as one big family and were affectionate to one another.
But, after the CCP came, they grab all our lands, and cancelled all our traditional ceremonies and activities. Instead, the CCP classified all the people and let different classes fight against each other.The affections of being a family had completely gone, together vanished the happiness of my childhood.
I have three female cousins. They are daughters of my grandfather’s sister.
The husband of the third cousin was a senior officer of Kuomintang. When the Kuomintang was defeated, the husband moved to Taiwan with the troop.
By then the wife was about to give birth to their baby, so she stayed.
In around 1951, the husband asked his wife, my third cousin, to get to Taiwan via Hong Kong, and said he would wait to pick her up at Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is neighbouring Guangzhou. And she would get to Hong Kong from Guangzhou customs.
As a courtesy from a sister, my second cousin, her elder sister, asked her husband to take her to Guangzhou and help take care of her two young kids on the way.
Her husband thus took them to Guangdong, saw them get across the customs, and went back home.
Later, the Cultural Revaluation came.
The Red Guards arrested my second cousin and her husband, interrogated why the husband had not followed the younger sister to Taiwan.The Red Guards then decided that he must have stayed in China to work as a secret agent for the Kuomintang, and forced them to admit their accusation being true.
They couldn’t admit the accusation made out of nothing, so the Red Guard beat and insulted them severely every day.
The husband couldn’t bear such burden and hang himself.The wife, my second cousin, was nailed by Red Guards with bamboo sticks under her fingernails. But she survived.
I met her after the cultural revolution, and saw that all her fingers were disabled/damaged.
The CCP is so cruel, and I still shudder at the thought of the scene.