Milder accounts of hardships under Mao arise as his birthday nearstags: China, Mao Zedong
HONG KONG — The famine that gripped China from 1958 to 1962 is widely judged to be the deadliest in recorded history, killing 20 to 30 million people or more, and is one of the defining calamities of Mao Zedong’s rule. Ever since, the party has shrouded that disaster in censorship and euphemisms, seeking to maintain an aura of reverence around the founding leader of the Communist state.
But with the approach of celebrations of the 120th anniversary Mao’s birth on Dec. 26, some of his supporters and party polemicists are stepping beyond the longstanding official reticence about the famine to argue for their own, much milder version of the disaster and to assail historians who disagree.
They deny that tens of millions died in the famine — it was at most a few million, some of them say — and they accuse scholars who support higher estimates of fanning anti-party sentiment....
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