The New York Times deleted a tweet that downplayed Chinese Dictator Mao Zedong’s mass murder of at least 45 million people on the anniversary of his death Monday.
The NYT Archives twitter account reposted the paper’s 1976 obituary of Chairman Mao, which called him a “great revolutionary” and referred to the policies that resulted in mass starvation as “sometimes convulsive.” The Times later deleted the tweet after widespread criticism, releasing a statement saying it had lacked “critical historical context.”
NYT deleted this tweet pic.twitter.com/UMaRTTZlfs
— Anders Hagstrom (@Hagstrom_Anders) September 9, 2019
We’ve deleted a previous tweet about Mao Zedong that lacked critical historical context.
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) September 9, 2019
“Mao Tze-tung, who began as an obscure peasant, died one of history’s great revolutionary figures,” the 1976 obituary read. “After establishing the Chinese People’s republic, Mao launched a series of sweeping, sometimes convulsive campaigns to transform a semi-feudal, largely illiterate and predominantly agricultural country encompassing almost four million square miles into a modern, industrialized socialist state.” (RELATED: Hong Kong Protesters Sing Star Spangled Banner)
The obituary goes on to praise Mao for leading his country to develop its own nuclear bombs and guided missiles, as well as becoming an oil producer. (RELATED: Hong Kong Protesters Call On Trump To Liberate The City)
The deaths caused by Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” from 1958 to 1962 are difficult to quantify, but Frank Dikötter, author of ‘Mao’s Great Famine’ estimates that at least 45 million innocents perished, blowing earlier estimates out of the water.
“It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive,” Dikötter wrote in History Today. “The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten kilogram stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – punishment for digging up a potato.”