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CHINA: Books about atrocities under Mao



Paul Simon answers my questions as to how the atrocities committee by Mao are described in the history textbooks of mainland China and of the Ilha Formosa, aka Taiwan. He replies:

"Good questions: I can't answer about the Taiwan textbooks; I confess I didn't read the Ilha Formosa history of the Mainland in the 55-65 period when I lived in Taipei--in fact, I was still learning to read Mandarin then and I probably couldn't have handled a college-level history text until right before I left!

As for foreign books on the atrocities, I'd bet they are translated into Mandarin and for sale--in Taiwan and Hong Kong! All book publication on the mainland is controlled by the government, which gives imprimatur to the few private publishing houses (like Dong yuor) and publishes books itself. Most books get sold through government-run outlets like Xinhua Bookstores (new China- the same group as the official central news agency). That said, there are small book kiosks in many places and probably a huge underground publishing industry--remember the WTO article on software pirating in China. As for scholarly books in translation, the market for them would be too small for some bootlegger to risk putting them out here. Editions from Taiwan or Hong Kong would be in Fantizi (traditional characters) and hard for most mainlanders to read."

My question: I consulted an article on Chinese writing. It did not mention Fantizi, but showed samples of ku-wen (which I suppose is the same as Fantizi) and ts'ao-shu. Bill Ratliff said Chinese script is the same everywhere, even though the pronunciation is different. Paul says that books published in Taiwan or Hong Kong would be hard for mainlanders to read. To me, this doesn't add up. There is an argument going on similar to the one on romanization.

Ronald Hilton - 12/22/01


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