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China’s "Insane" Heroes and the Engagement Myth By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, August 19, 2002

Advocates of normalizing relations with Cuba often cite America's engagement with other communist regimes. Engagement engenders liberalization, they claim, and Communist China is their darling example.

On August 13, Human Rights Watch released a 298-page report entitled "Dangerous Minds: Political Psychiatry in China Today and its Origins in the Mao Era." Its contents point to several trends, but liberalization isn't among them.

Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949. He stated the character of the "republic" at the First National People's Congress of the PRC (1954): "The force at the core leading our cause forward is the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]. The theoretical basis guiding our thinking is Marxism-Leninism." He previously stressed in 1945, "Without the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party, without the Chinese Communists as the mainstay of the Chinese people, China can never achieve independence and liberation."

Mao accordingly inflicted Soviet practices on China, one of which was psychiatric tyranny.

Under Soviet psychiatry, anti-totalitarian Russians like Vladimir Bukovsky and Viktor Nekipelov were branded madmen; since the Communist Party embodied progress, one would have to be insane to be anti-communist. Diagnoses included "reformist delusions."

"Dangerous Minds" notes, "The new generation of psychiatric professionals that emerged in China after 1949 was…overwhelmingly influenced by Soviet psychiatric theory and doctrine."

Schizophrenia became the main charge against non-conformists to communist orthodoxy. This diagnosis from 1963 is representative: "The patient's mental illness has recurred; his counterrevolutionary statements are none other than a pathological mental symptom of his longstanding reactionary views. Diagnosis: schizophrenia." Electro-shock, drugging, and other violence followed "hospitalization."

Mao died in 1976-with tens of millions of corpses in his wake-but psychiatric tyranny continues. The regime established the Ankang in 1987, a network of mental institutions for "political maniacs." (Ankang means "Peace and Health.")

Wang Wanxing is one of many conscientious Chinese in the Ankang. On June 2, 1992, he displayed a human rights banner in Tiananmen Square to commemorate the June 1989 protests there that ended in slaughter. Arrested moments later, the regime put Wang in the Ankang following diagnosis as a paranoid psychotic with "political monomania."

In August 1999, the regime conditionally released Wang for three months. Wang asked in November if he could hold a press conference. The regime responded by re-imprisoning him.

Before re-imprisonment, Wang made a recording of his hopes and convictions. He said in part:

I'm a normal person. I am not sick. I want to go back to my family and rejoin society. I have spent ten years in hospital. That is enough…I have never committed violence. I am proud of what I have done and do not regret what I did in 1989 and 1992. A person should have his own way of thinking.
Falun Gong, a spiritual movement involving ancient exercises, has been persecuted with special malice by the post-Mao master class. Criminalized as an "evil cult" in July 1999, Falun Gong practitioners are regularly rounded up, sent to mental institutions, and tortured. Hundreds have died.


Denouncing these atrocities isn't an option since the CCP continues to forbid critical thought. Independent media don't exist; conscientious assemblies are "reactionary." When journalist Jiang Weiping exposed the corruption of functionaries like Bo Xilai-governor of Liaoning province and son of CCP elite Bo Yibo-the regime sentenced him in January to eight years in prison for "inciting to subvert state power" and "revealing state secrets."

Chinese like Jiang and Wang aren't madmen or criminals. They're lucid patriots who have been brutalized for their lucidity.

As "Dangerous Minds" and other documentation show, engagement hasn't dented totalitarianism in China. On the contrary, honors like the 2008 Olympics legitimize and perpetuate the master class.

It's as if "President" Jiang Zemin and his henchmen are being rewarded for their brutality. These savages don't deserve rewards, and neither do the Cuban savages 90 miles from America. (Like Mao, Fidel Castro Sovietized Cuban psychiatry. In this vein, he has denigrated prisoner of conscience Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet as a "crazy little man." On the Sovietization of Cuban psychiatry, see The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba by Charles J. Brown and Armando M. Lago.)

The détentists have deferred emancipation long enough. Confrontation is the order of the day.

Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.

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