Eight Months Behind the Bamboo Curtain—A Report on the First Eight Months of Communist Rule in China

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This was the motto of Chang Kuo-sin, and the ideal which he inspired generations of students of communication to follow. He proved his own dedication to this when, in 1949, he found himself in Nanking, the former nationalist capital, under the rule of the newly victorious communists. For eight months he lived and attempted to work in the midst of these historical changes. He managed to smuggle his detailed notes out to share with the world at a time when almost no reports of the new regime were being published. To mark the centenary of his birth, Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication has republished this important work by one of its most distinguished professors.
Pub. Date
Sep 1, 2016
208 pages
127 x 178 mm
Preface to the First Edition
This book is written on the advice and persuasion of newspaper readers and friends who thought that the twenty-one articles I wrote for the United Press when I arrived here in Hong Kong on December 23, 1949 were the first comprehensive and systematic reports on the Chinese communists that had ever come out of Red China. They suggested that the articles be expanded into a book for the information of the world in general and the Chinese overseas in particular.

I acknowledge that this book tells only part of the story of China’s new rulers. It is not a story of my life in Red China, but a report on my observations on communist rule, on how it affected the common man, and how the common man in China felt towards it during the eight months I was behind the Bamboo Curtain.

It is not a scholastic study of the present and future of the Chinese communists. It is not history, but the facts which I give in this book will, I hope, help future historians in their work. The conditions and popular reactions which I report in this book are what existed during the period from April 23 to December 23, 1949. They may change as time goes by, as they have changed before.

This book consists of two parts: (1) the communist “liberation” and administration of Nanking, the nationalist capital, and how the communists went about erecting their rule and how the people reacted towards them during the first month of occupation; and (2) the conditions and popular reactions throughout China after eight months of communist rule.

I added the first part for the purpose of showing the reader the difference in the tenor of popular reactions towards the Chinese communists after the people had been subjected to it for one month and subsequently eight months.

The difference, as the reader will discern, is that the people reacted favourably towards the Chinese communists after one month, but their reactions became unfavourable as time went by. This is true of all places in China. The change in popular reaction is one of the most significant phenomena, which to my knowledge has not yet been adequately publicised in the outside world.

As I said, this book is an objective report on communist rule in China as the common man sees it. If it is anti-communist in the final analysis, it is unintentional and something which I cannot help. As a correspondent, I must follow the popular trends.

I apologise to the reader for being unable to identify my sources as clearly as I should, as it may endanger the safety of my sources who are still living in China.

In illustration of the reasons of why we correspondents must be very careful in identifying our sources: one day our Shanghai correspondent met an American missionary in the streets and asked him about conditions in his area. He said he could not talk due to fear of communist reprisals. He said the communists had somehow gotten hold of an article in an American magazine which contained a description of conditions regarding missionaries in his area. The communists had then conducted a check of all the missionaries in the area in an effort to ascertain who had given the information to the writer.
PART ONE Communists Rule in Nanking After One Month of Trial (April 23 – May 23, 1949)
1. Communist Government
2. Popular Reactions
3. Communist Press
4. The Communist Army
5. Nationalist Retreat from Nanking
6. Communists and Foreign Recognition

PART TWO Communist Rule in China After Eight Months of Trial (April – December 1949)
1. Communist Totalitarianism
2. Communist Efforts to Disguise Totalitarianism
3. Democratic Spirit Within the Communist Party
4. The Threat of Diversionism Inside the Communist Party
5. Communist “Lean to One Side” Principle
6. The Merits and Demerits of the Communist Government
7. Disillusionment and Discontent in Communist China
8. Causes of Disillusionment and Discontent
9. Disillusionment and Discontent Among Workers
10. Disillusion and Discontent Among Farmers
11. Problems Facing the Communists – Currency
12. Problems Facing the Communists – Agriculture and the Industry
13. Problems Facing the Communists – Famine
14. Problems Facing the Communists – How to Sell Soviet Russia to the Chinese People
15. Soviet Help in the Sovietisation of China
16. Soviet Russians and Manchuria
17. Moslem Opposition to Communist Rule
18. Foreigners in Communist China
19. “Democratic Personages” in Peking
20. Will the Communists Turn Titoists in the Future?
21. Farewell to Communist China
CHANG Kuo Sin (1916–2006) worked as a translator, a reporter, a film-maker, an author, a professor and the head of the Communication Department of the Hong Kong Baptist College. He lived through some of the most turbulent times of the twentieth century and bore witness, with his characteristic devotion to the truth, to some of the defining events of our times.