Should we congratulate the Chinese Communist Party for killing more human beings than anybody else in history?
by Massimo Introvigne
Finally, here we are. The party for the Party starts, and what Chinese media have called the most memorable celebration in modern history hails the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Even some Western leaders are congratulating the Party. They offer as an excuse that the CCP achieved remarkable successes in the struggle against poverty or, as they said, “lifted millions of Chinese out of hunger.” Scholars have proved that statistics on the wonderful successes of China in eradicating poverty are largely false or inflated. Nobody denies the economic progresses in China, but other countries have obtained similar or better results without killing a large number of their own citizens in the process.
There is only one world record the CCP holds without dispute, one we should all remember today in our meditations and prayers. No organization in human history killed more human beings than the CCP. Not Nazi Germany, nor Soviet Russia, not even the Mongol Invasions. The table above is based on averages obtained by comparing estimates by leading scholars of different genocides and “democides” (i.e., the extermination by a regime of a part of its own populations). They include executions, massacres, civilian victims of wars of conquest, deaths for exhaustion in labor camps, human-provoked famines and epidemics.
We have used averages from three or more leading scholars for each organization or event, have included scholars skeptical of higher figures, and have not been shy in mentioning the sins of the West. By using this method, in the United States and Canada 10 million native Americans were exterminated, including those who died because of epidemics and famines that could have been prevented and were generated by their encounters with the colonizers (we are aware mainline figures are contested as inflated by some revisionist authors). And 12 million (although many documents have been destroyed, and statistics are difficult) died when King Leopold II of Belgium ruled as a private possession Congo Free State and tortured, executed, and led to death by overwork and starvation millions of its inhabitants.
We are also aware of the ongoing debate about the 1997 French Black Book of Communism (which was published in English in 1999 by Harvard University Press), and criticism that certain figures may have been overestimated as part of the authors’ effort to come to the round figure of 100 million. We have compared the Black Book data with other sources. However, we disagree with the criticism that victims of human-made famines such as the Holodomor in Russia or the Great Lap Forward should not be counted. These famines would not have happened if not for the criminal behavior of the regimes that caused them.
For China, our estimate of 50 million victims is extremely conservative. Others believe the figure to be closer to 80 million. During the Civil War, the Communist killed some 3 million civilians, often for the sole reason that they were perceived as “class enemies.” (The Nationalists also killed many civilians, of course). In the immediate years after seizing the power, the CCP under Chairman Mao executed at least one million Chinese labeled as “class enemies” or “counter-revolutionaries.” There were also human-created famines before 1958, which made another 500,000 victims. The Great Leap Forward and its consequence, the Great Chinese Famine, happened in 1958–1962, and are widely regarded as the greatest human-made disaster in history. Again, victim estimates vary and by using our method of finding an average between different reliable scholars we counted 38.5 million (others believe the number to be much higher). A less controversial figure indicates in 1,5 million those who were executed during the Great Leap Forward to get rid of opponents and whistleblowers. 2 million is a conservative estimate of those killed during the Cultural Revolution. Scholars believe that excluding the Great Leap Forward (1958–1962) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) periods, victims from 1950 to Tiananmen (1989) who were either executed, killed extra-judicially, killed during the repression of protests, and starved or exhausted to death in labor camps were at least 3 million. By counting 500,000 victims of the post-Tiananmen era, we consider some scholarly “minimalist” accounts of deaths in Tibet and Xinjiang to remain true to our method, although we suspect that the CCP in recent years has been much more lethal.
We are aware that the total result, 50 million, is a very conservative estimate. The late Rudolph J. Rummel, whom the CCP and some Western historians like to criticize but who was a respected American scholar with an unimpeachable academic career, originally estimated victims of the CCP up to the year 1987 (obviously, the CCP continued to kill after that date) to 38.7 million but, as new documents surfaced, particularly about the Great Leap Forward, revised his estimate to 76.7 million.
50 or 76.7 million, each unit in this statistic refers to a human being, who lived, loved, hoped, had relatives and friends, and believed in a future that the CCP cruelly destroyed. If we should celebrate something on July 1, we should celebrate the victims. Bitter Winter did it on June 11, when we offered a laurel wreath at the Washington DC monument to the Victims of Communism in memory of those murdered by the CCP, during an international ceremony organized by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, an organization authorized by a unanimous act of the U.S. Congress in 1993. Physically or metaphorically, please have your laurel wreath ready today, and shed a tear for the (at least) 50 million victims of the most criminal organization that ever devoted itself to mass murder in human history.