Wild swans

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The 70 Report

Official Script for Wednesday 1 April, 00

Interview with Wang-Yu, Daughter of book WILD SWANS

Brian Good evenimg and welcome to the 70 Report. I’m your host Brian Edwards. Tonight we are taking a glimpse at China and it’s harsh ruling by Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist Party. We will be doing so throught the book Wild Swans (Holds copy of book up) which was written by author Jung Chang, published in 1. The book follows the story of three generations of women (The t.v screen is now alternately showing close-ups of three photos of the women on the front of the book) And their struggle through life, battling political China( screen goes back to interviewer and Wang) I have with me tonight Wang �Yu, father of the author Jung Chang. Wangs life story also plays a dominate role throughout the book. Good evening Wang.

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Wang Good evening Brian.

Brian Wild Swans is such an extraordinary book with an amazing story of your families struggles throughout political China. Your daughter Jung Chang has dedicated this book to you. What was your initial reaction after you first read the book?

Wang It took me quite a while to read the book. It stirred every sort of emotion possible in me. Reading parts, such as when De- Hong and myself got married and around that time when in was strongly devoted to the communist party made me angry, upset and vengeful. But when I was reading the part where we had beeen exhiled to the country side I was upset, yet it filled me with confidence and love for my family as my children kept the family together so strongly during that terrible time.

Brian Each person’s story has been written in such intricate detail, yours especially. Do you agree?

Wang Oh definitely. I, myself, was totally shocked in the amount of detail in everyone’s individual story. I couldn’t believe she remembered every little thing, especially emotions, from when she was little. She has been researching for years, tracing family history and movement, spending hours, days and weeks with her mother and myself asking us questions and getting details into every aspect of our lives. In some parts I wish she hadn’t gone into so much detail in her work. Such as, once again, the time I was strongly dedicated to the Communist Party especially when my children were born. However, it was the validity of her book to make the world aware of life inside political China, especially the communists and Mao Zedong’s reign as emperor.

Brian So you do admit to being an extremist member of the Communist Party?

Wang Yes, as much as I am now ashamed of it, I was indeed an extremist in the Community Party.

Brian As Wild Swans explains one of Mao’s many regimes was against nepotism, which is to not favour family members. Due to this, the way Jung Chang has depicted you in the first half of the book is of a man who has neglected and deprived his family of the fundamentals of family life and some medical procedures which were life threatening. I will now read an extract from the book “Near the date I was due to appear, the director suggested to my father that my mother should be moved to a hospital in a larger city, where there were better facilities and specialists obstetricians. He was afraid that when I emerged, the sudden removal of pressure might cause the cavities in my mother’s lungs to re-open and produce a hemorrhage. But my father refused, he said his wife had to be treated like everyone else, as the communist party had pledged themselves to combat privilege. When my mother heard this, she thought bitterly that he always seemed to act against her interests and he did not care whether she lived or died.” These are words from your wife. If these words are true, how do you feel now towards your attitude you held when you were a strong communist supporter?

Wang Yes those words are true. I don’t blame my wife for feeling this way. I’m glad she did. At least one of us remains humane and wasn’t totally swept up by the excitement of advancing in the party. Now I do regret being the way I was, neglecting my wife and especially my children. It was a terrible that the party was promoting. I have apologised endlessly to my wife and children for my behaviour back then. But, the more I think about it the more I realise that there was nothing I could have done to prevent my life coming to this point, as much as I regret it now. As Jung has in quite some detail expressed in the book the power Mao had over the people. He brainwashed the entire population into believing he was doing good for all of us! He had very dominant and convincing propaganda regimes which flooded the nation. After he took over the People’s Daily (whilst Wang is talking old copies of the People’s Daily are being shown on the screen; also billboards and posters which were hung in the city), the paper was filled with all the great deeds the Communist Party had been doing and above all slogans such as “Mao is our Sun”. He placed giant posters and billboards around the city. I was quickly taken into the party at an early age. I started as a guerrilla in Jinzhou and was promoted to head of the Secretariat, then a member of Communist Party committee and then promoted again to head of Public Affairs Department in my city. These were all in quiet, quick succession. So as you can imagine, I thought I was doing good and that the party valued and admired the work I was doing for them. They were very influential in everyone’s lives, especially in mine at this time or so I thought.

Brian But events such as the famine where thousands of people died, and the whole population starved. The regime in which anyone could dob anyone else in for being a rightist with no evidence and that person and their extended family would be relocated to a life of slavery and expulsion. How could you consider this to be lawful and right for the entire country? How could you not question what was going on?

Wang Well if I was in your position now Brian, I too would be asking the same question. It is incomprehendible to think a whole country could go without questioning what Mao was doing. But really the answer is quite simple. Mao had so much power within China that he controlled everyone and everything. The reason Mao had so much power was because he used scare tactics to threaten the entire population. Like you said Brian, if you were considered a rightist you could have been killed or you and your family would have been exiled to the country side to live a life of slavery. So everyone tried their best to make every effort to please the party. Also the party determines your grade; this was another regime put into place by Mao which determines your standard of living. So if you made little effort to enhance the party you were only given a higher grade. Most of the population in these higher grades died as they were given inappropriate housing and very little food to feed a whole family. So in this sense I was lucky as I was a grade eleven as I was a high official. My family and I had good housing, sufficient food and had rights to a car.

Brian But you, too, got to experience life in the slave camps.

Wang Yes I did. My family and I were expelled to the countryside and my wife and I were put into separate slave camps. This happened after I sent a letter to Mao warning him of these newly appointed officials, whom I knew from previous years, and were bad people. I was arrested by Mao’s Red Guards and forced me to make a self confession on why I shouldn’t have sent the letter. This eventually drove my insane as I had nothing to confess and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. I was considered ‘anti-Mao’ and after my release I was continually beaten by university students, Red Guards and August 6 members. It was then my family and I were expelled. Life was terrible; doing hard manual labour seven days a week. My children weren’t sentenced but they stayed with us during those several years and kept us strong.

Brian This is what I can’t comprehend. You were so totally loyal to Mao and the Party and so easily he has wiped you from the Communist world. This must have made life seem unbearable.

Wang I wasn’t going to give us as I had my family left to fight for. But yes, the party I had dedicated most of my life to had thrown me out so easily. But that was Mao and he did those sorts of things to show others what happens if you’re disloyal to the party. The August 6 members that used to beat me; they were only kids, teenagers and early 0’s. They felt that had power when Mao allowed them to beat people. Mao had brainwashed them into thinking they were assets to China. Society, when all for the same thing, can be such a powerful force in which nothing can get in it’s way without being destroyed, like I was. I feel this book needs to be read by the whole world so we can prevent dictators like this dominating again.

Brian But unfortunately this book is banned in China, is that correct?

Wang Yes it is. We are fighting very hard for it to be allowed.

Brian Well thank you so much Wang. But unfortunately that is all we have time for tonight. Chang’s story of a struggle through life during the Communist reign has definitely proven how corrupt a dictator-style of government can be.

Wang Thank you Brian, it’s been a pleasure.

Oriental Chinese music plays as the photos that are in the book are shown underneath the credits.

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