Onder MAO werd er ook gerommeld met de cijfers, zelfs zo dat dat gerommel oorzaak werd ven de grootste hongersnood in China, zie "The Party" van Richard McGregor:
Overgenomen uit: The Party – the secret world of China’s communist rulers.
Auteur: Richard McGregor (Aus) ISBN 9 780141 038858
THE PARTY - TOMBSTONE
Yang worried constantly that he would be caught and his colleagues punished. 'I felt like a person going deep into a mountain to seek treasure, all alone and surrounded by tigers and other beasts; he said. 'It is very dangerous, as using those materials is prohibited.' The sourcing in Tombstone is meticulous, down to the documents' serial numbers and the years in which they were published. But anticipating potential trouble ahead, Yang fudged some of his more than 2,000 footnotes. Instead of naming the official archives, he refers to his sources as 'original documents with very reliable sourcing'.
In Xinyang, a small city in Henan province where the famine was at its worst, the local government didn't direct Yang to the official archives. The officials received him hospitably and sent him instead to see a retired cadre from the local waterworks bureau, Yu Dehong. In their own quiet way, the Xinyang officials might have been giving Yang a helping hand as well. Yu was what you might call the local history crank, except that the stories he nagged people about did not concern mundane municipal landmarks and the arrival of the city's first steam train. As political secretary to the Xinyang mayor in the late fifties, Yu was an eye-witness to a mini-Holocaust in his home town, its surrounding villages and his own family. According to the most conservative calculations, one million
people out of a population of eight million in Xinyang died over a three-year period. Yu had often been gently advised to drop the issue in the years since. Instead, he wrote a detailed account and submitted it to the local party secretary under his own name. 'Some people asked me "haven't you committed enough mistakes?"' he said. 'But if the official history won't include this material, then my private history will. I have the materials to back me up.'
Xinyang was generally blessed with good harvests, unlike much of Henan, known as the 'land of beggars' for its history of impoverishment and not infrequent famines. But any advantage the city had was undermined by the officials who ruled over it. At the time, Henan and Xinyang were overseen by radical leftists fanatically devoted to Mao who viewed the grain harvest solely through the prism of violent class struggle. Yu remembers vividly a series of surreal meetings in 1959, when the eighteen counties in the Xinyang area reported their harvest for the year. The correct figure for the harvest was about 2.9 billion jin. (One jin is half a kilogram.) Desperate to meet the political demand for record production, each county began to wildly exaggerate its own harvest and bid up the figure. The first time they totted up the production figures from all eighteen counties, the collective harvest equalled an astonishing 3 5 billion jin in what had been a relatively poor year. In 1958, a good year, the total harvest had been only 5 billion jin.
One of Yu's colleagues dared to express doubts about the figures and began to argue them down. A new consensus about the harvest size was formed, first at around 30 billion. The official pushed further, and the number fell to 20 billion, and eventually dropped to 8 billion, until the party secretary erupted. Mao had himself sanctioned new, and quite miraculous, figures of output per acre. The party secretary raged that lowering the figure further would amount to repudiating Mao. After more furious argument, Xinyang finally declared its official grain harvest at 7.2 billion jin, about three times the real figure.
That was more than enough of a distortion to set in train the disaster that followed. The government, which calculated its annual levy on the official figure, took more than half the real harvest for itself, placing it in its own granaries and putting the rest under the control of the central government .'The principle at the time was to collect everything surplus to the daily needs of the peasants, so when they gathered grail
according to the 7.2 billion jin harvest, many homes and villages were simply emptied of food.' said Yu. 'And of course, the government refused to open up its granaries, because they said there should have been lots left over.' People had few personal stocks of grain, because under Maoist collectivization policies they were forced to eat in communal kitchens. It was not long before mass starvation began to grip the city and surrounding areas.