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While it’s almost impossible to determine precisely how many people died at the hands of the Communists when they came to power in 1949 and in the decades that followed, estimates range anywhere from 45 to 70 million people, depending on whom you ask. While some of these occurred when Communist forces finally vanquished the Nationalist Army of Chang Kai-Shek, most of them took place later and came largely in two main waves; the first was during the “Great Leap Forward”, when China’s leader Mao Zedong’s attempt at agricultural modernization and social engineering led to mass starvation between 1958 and 1961, and the death of many former land owners. While not a specific effort to eradicate a population, what made it genocidal in nature was the fact that Mao continued his policies long after they were obviously proven to be disastrous, thereby dooming millions of peasants to starvation.

The second great genocide was a result of what was called the “Cultural Revolution” of 1966 to 1976—a bloody purge of “anti-government elements” that left millions dead or languishing in prison camps throughout China. It was only upon the death of Mao that the worst of the killings ended, though the brutal crushing of the Tienanmen Square protesters in 1989 demonstrated that Beijing’s violent tendencies did not entirely die with the man.

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Originally posted 2017-12-18 09:34:30.