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Historian Reveals China's Great Famine Tragedies

In Chinese history books, the period between 1958 to 1961 was the Three Years of Natural Disasters. But to most historians, it was called the Great Famine. As many as 45 million Chinese died, and it's been largely attributed to poor planning under former Communist Party Leader Mao Zedong.This year, on the 50th anniversary of the Great Famine, a history professor at the University of Hong Kong has published a book to give a rare look at what happened in that time. Zhou Xun is also the assistant to Dutch historian Frank Dikotter, an expert in Chinese history under Mao's reign. Zhou spent four years visiting dozens of Chinese provincial and county archives to collect data. Her book contains more than 100 pieces of documents. Some recorded people being beaten to death. Others were more shocking, like evidence of cannibalistic massacres.[Zhou Xun, assistant professor at the History Department of the University of Hong Kong] "I went to Xinyang area in Henan Province and Anhui Province to do interviews, the survivors there told me almost every village had cannibal incidents and some people even ate their own children."The Great Famine came amidst Mao's Great Leap Forward campaign, which known for setting unattainable industrial quotas like steel production. In Hunan province, Zhou spoke to victims of that period—those stripped of their clothes in public by authorities trying to enforce the quotas. [Zhou Xun, assistant professor at the History Department of the University of Hong Kong]:"Because it's cold in the winter, if you don't wear clothes you have to work extremely hard otherwise you will freeze to death. These women said they had never experienced that kind of humiliation even since they were born."Zhou said obtaining data for her book was not easy, with Chinese authorities carefully guarding the archives.[Zhou Xun, assistant professor at the History Department of the University of Hong Kong]:"Recently the Central Archives Administration issued a document saying they publish academic research will have bad effects, so no more access is granted, right now nobody can access the information."Still, the historian who had studied Jewish history is determined not to let history be forgotten.[Zhou Xun, assistant professor at the History Department of the University of Hong Kong]:"Why does the whole world know about the Jewish holocaust, but very few people know about China's great famine? As a person who studies history, I think this is very important. It's my responsibility to let the whole world know what happened in China at the time."Born in Sichuan province, Zhou Xun's own family was a victim of the Great Famine. She's planning a new book which will include verbal recollections from more than 100 witnesses.For more news and videos visit ☛ http://english.ntdtv.comFollow us on Twitter ☛ us on Facebook ☛

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