Red China Blues: My Long March From Mao to Now
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Jan Wong, a Canadian of Chinese descent, went to China as a starry-eyed Maoist in 1972 at the height of the Cultural Revolution. A true believer--and one of only two Westerners permitted to enroll at Beijing University--her education included wielding a pneumatic drill at the Number One Machine Tool Factory. In the name of the Revolution, she renounced rock & roll, hauled pig manure in the paddy fields, and turned in a fellow student who sought her help in getting to the United States. She also met and married the only American draft dodger from the Vietnam War to seek asylum in China.
Red China Blues is Wong's startling--and ironic--memoir of her rocky six-year romance with Maoism (which crumbled as she became aware of the harsh realities of Chinese communism); her dramatic firsthand account of the devastating Tiananmen Square uprising; and her engaging portrait of the individuals and events she covered as a correspondent in China during the tumultuous era of capitalist reform under Deng Xiaoping. In a frank, captivating, deeply personal narrative she relates the horrors that led to her disillusionment with the "worker's paradise." And through the stories of the people--an unhappy young woman who was sold into marriage, China's most famous dissident, a doctor who lengthens penises--Wong reveals long-hidden dimensions of the world's most populous nation.
In setting out to show readers in the Western world what life is like in China, and why we should care, she reacquaints herself with the old friends--and enemies of her radical past, and comes to terms with the legacy of her ancestral homeland.
makeshift cinema to watch a badly made porno film in which the plot consisted of Lin Biao’s son holding beauty contests and screwing the contestants. In our hotel, I noticed women in stretch lace tops with spangles in their hair, but assumed it was merely the local bad taste. Only after a series of phone calls kept me awake the first night did I realize our hotel was crawling with prostitutes and Johns. I knew that blending in gave me an edge as a reporter, but I didn’t realize how useful my
hours. By the time they could walk, usually at twelve to fourteen months, they knew to squat down in their open-crotch pants whenever they felt the urge. In winter, their tiny bums were as rosy as their other cheeks. Cathy McGregor, an American trying to toilet train her own daughter, watched in amazement once as teachers prepared fifteen toddlers for a turn on the trampoline in a Beijing park. “The teachers went around and said,” ‘Niao, niao, niao’ — ‘Pee, pee, pee,’ ” said Cathy. “I thought,
starvation, Arise, ye wretched of the earth,” I sang softly in Chinese, as some of the foreign correspondents around me gave me strange looks. I suddenly realized I was the only one actually singing in the Great Hall of the People. Even the four choirs were silent. I took off my Mao badge, and went home. About the Author An award-winning journalist, Jan Wong was the Beijing correspondent for The Globe and Mail from 1988 to 1994. She is a graduate of McGill University and the Columbia
waylaid an ammunition truck. That afternoon five thousand troops confronted even more demonstrators outside the Great Hall of the People. But except for a beating or two, the showdown was uneventful. At one point, the two sides – soldiers and protesters – even competed to see who best sang “Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China.” The government had lost all credibility. It had buzzed the square with military helicopters — and people laughed. It had tried to send in armored
carrying her and her infant sister in two wicker baskets suspended from a shoulder pole. Standing on a street corner, he offered them to passersby. He couldn’t afford to feed them, he said. A housekeeper took pity on the tiny sisters and brought them home, where her master, a judicial official surnamed Yin, agreed to raise them. Yin must have been an enlightened man because he refused to bind their feet and saw to it that they were each given a year’s education. From that base, Fong Shee