Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore: The Great Silence of China





Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore is an editor at Time Out Beijing.

BEIJING — On Thursday, China released Feng Xiaogang’s “Back to 1942,” a blockbuster film about the 1942-43 Henan famine, during which roughly three million people starved to death following a drought exacerbated by the Japanese invasion. The film made over $480,000 on its first day and is tipped to break box-office records....

...[T]he censors allow “Back to 1942” but hardly tolerate any account of the largely manmade Great Famine that took place under Mao in 1958-62 and left tens of millions dead....

The Chinese Communist Party (C.C.P.), as the Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng has masterfully shown in “Tombstone,” is terrified to confront its past. First published in Chinese in Hong Kong in 2008, “Tombstone” became available in English in late October, but it is banned here. The C.C.P., which presided over the Great Famine — and still lionizes Mao — has yet to apologize for or officially acknowledge the disaster....



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