Dongping Han interviewed on “The Unknown Cultural Revolution – Life and Change in a Chinese village”

[From A World To Win News Service.  A video of a lecture given by Dongping Han can be found here.  His book can be purchased from Monthly Review Press. – RI Ed.]

Dongping Han grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution and now teaches in the U.S. He is the author of the book The Unknown Cultural Revolution—Life and Change in a Chinese Village. Following is an abridged version of the session at the end of a speech he gave in December 2008 at the New York symposium “Rediscovering the Chinese Cultural Revolution: Art and Politics, Lived Experience, Legacies of Liberation,” sponsored by Revolution Books, Set the Record Straight Project and Institute for Public Knowledge-New York University. The full version appeared in the 6 September 2009 issue of Revolution, voice of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. (

Question: You went back to China in 1986. When did you and others like you start to see that things were different, that China had become very different than what it had been during the Cultural Revolution?

Dongping Han: I think people realized right away. The land was privatized in China in 1983. Many people tend to think that farmers are stupid and ignorant. But I think the farmers are very intelligent people. Many of them realized the implications of private farming right away. That was why they resisted it very hard in the beginning. And in my village and in other villages I surveyed, the overwhelming majority of people, 90 percent, said the Communist Party no longer cares about poor people. Right away they felt this way. The Communist Party, the cadres, no longer cared about poor people in the countryside. The government investment in rural areas in the countryside dropped from 15 percent in the national budget in 1970s to only 3-4 percent in the ’80s. So the Chinese public realized that the Chinese government no longer cared about them by disbanding the communes. But I was in college at the time and I didn’t start to think about the issue very hard until 1986.

Q: Can you explain a little bit more how the Cultural Revolution came to your village?

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