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Scarlet Memorial: Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China - by Richard King

Scarlet Memorial: Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China

Pacific Affairs, Fall 1997

by Richard King

SCARLET MEMORIAL: Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China. By Zheng Yi. Edited and Translated by T. P Sym. Boulder (Colorado): Westview Press, 1996. xxii 199 pp. (Photos.) US$32.00, cloth, ISBN 0-8133-2615-X; US$19.50, paper ISBN 0-8133-2616-8.

THE EXILED POET YANG LIAN recently complained of a spate of books for Western readers on modern China with 'redness' in their titles, books which recount atrocities committed under Communist rule, and which, in Yang Lian s view, feed orientalist preconceptions of Asian barbarism. This book is one of the works so characterized, and the acts of savagery recorded here in painstaking and painful detail certainly reinforce the impression that in the period discussed - the early years of the Cultural Revolution - China was in a state of moral as well as political crisis. Whatever the merits of the other fruits of the red harvest, this is a book which commands attention for its grim seriousness of purpose and its author s courage, even if the rhetoric occasionally distracts from the effect.

Before undertaking this project, Zheng Yi had already published fiction exploring themes of violence in Chinese society: between Red Guard factions in the short story 'Maple' and between feuding villages in the novel Old Well. It was rumours of cannibalism in the southern province of Guangxi heard while he was a Red Guard in the late 1960s which led the author there, almost twenty years later, to conduct his own investigations. He was not the only one to have heard the rumours: China s leading investigative journalist Liu Binyan also knew of them, but told Zheng Yi that the events were 'too evil' for him to cover. Zheng Yi researched Scarlet Memorial in the mid-1980s, and wrote it while on the run from the authorities in the months following the Tiananmen massacre of June 4, 1989, and before his move to the United States.

The slaughter and cannibalism uncovered here were not furtive criminal acts, but public orgies instigated by Communist party officials, participated in by local residents in their thousands, and followed by mass feasting, with the livers and hearts of the victims particularly prized for their restorative and nutritional properties. In Wuxuan County, teachers were killed, cooked in school kitchens and on barbecues on school grounds, and eaten by their neighbours. In the same county, a man was murdered during a public parade: 'After [the killer] Wang Chunrong extracted the liver with his five-inch knife, the crowd rushed forward to get at the flesh. [The victim] Tang immediately died. Full of excitement, Wang Chunrong took the human liver to the pork counter at the food factory, added some spices, and boiled it together with some pork to serve as an appetizer with an aperitif (p. 81).

These events enact Lu Xun s assertion of cannibalism as a metaphor for social relations in China made a half-century before in his story 'Diary of a Madman,' and confirm that Lu Xun s fiction can no longer be read as the condemnation of an 'old society' ended by communist liberation. There are resonances also in writing of the young contemporary writer Yu Hua, who portrays surreal acts of irrational cruelty and implies a society little changed from Lu Xun s time.

What was to blame for the carnage? For Zheng Yi, it was the politics of the Cultural Revolution, zealously transmitted by local leaders, that released and legitimized the vilest of human tendencies. Most of the victims were those who, by the standards of the day, were politically suspect: 'Anything was acceptable as long as it was in the name of class struggle and proletarian dictatorship' (p. 32). Instigators and participants in the slaughter and feasting felt morally justified in their actions; few of those interviewed by Zheng Yi expressed remorse, the guilty have remained largely unpunished, and the descendants of the victims still feel ostracized. The author rejects as Han chauvinism the suggestion that the cannibalism in Guangxi was merely a manifestation of the cultural traditions of the Zhuang and Yao minority peoples, but though he is able to cite appalling acts of brutality elsewhere in the same period, there appear to be no other cases of mass cannibalism, and his assertion that the events he describes were a national shame, rather than a regional manifestation, remains unproved.


University of Victoria, B.C., Canada

Copyright University of British Columbia Fall 1997

SCARLET MEMORIAL: TALES OF CANNIBALISM IN MODERN CHINA. By Zheng Yi; edited and translated by T.P. Sym. Westview Press; 224 pages; $32 and [Pounds] 23.95


Hong Kong Reports Mainland Chinese Eating Infants

The Next Magazine Mar 29, 2007

You have to be kidding right? Unfortunately this is really happening!

The Next Magazine, a weekly publication from Hong Kong, reported that infant corpses and fetuses have become the newest supplements for health and beauty in China. Not only is the placenta considered a beauty remedy, but also aborted fetuses are much sought after delicacies. In Guangdong, gourmet body parts are in high demand and can even be purchased through hospitals. The magazine s investigations into this form of cannibalism took them to Liaoning province.

According to The Next Magazine, during a banquet hosted by a Taiwanese businessman, a servant Ms Liu from Liaoning province on the mainland inadvertently revealed the habit of eating infants/fetuses in Liaoning province and her intention to return for the supplement due to health concerns. The Taiwanese women present were horrified.

Ms Liu also disclosed that even though people can afford the human parts there are still waiting lists and those with the right connections get the 'highest quality' human parts, which translates to the more mature fetuses. A male fetus is considered the 'prime' human part.

At the The Next Magazine s request, Ms Liu personally escorted the reporter to a location where a fetus was being prepared. The reporter observed a woman chopping up a male fetus and making soup from the placenta. During the process, the woman even tried to comfort everyone by saying, 'Don t be afraid, this is just the flesh of a higher animal.'

The boy s remains were cremated in the mountains in accordance with the customs of the region.

In fact, in China, reports about meals made from infant flesh have surfaced from time to time. A video is on the Internet for people to view. In the introduction, the Chinese claim that eating a human fetus is an art form.

On March 22, 2003, police in Bingyan, Guangxi Province seized 28 female babies smuggled in a truck from Yulin, Guangxi Province going to Houzhou in Anhui Province. The oldest baby was only three months old. The babies were packed three or four to a bag and many of them were near death—none were claimed by their parents.

On the morning of October 9, 2004, a person rifling through the garbage on the outskirts of Jiuquan city in the Suzhou region, found dismembered babies in a dumpster. There were two heads, two torsos, four arms, and six legs. According to the investigation, these corpses were no more than a week old and they had been dismembered after cooking.

Although China has laws that prohibit the eating of human fetus, the regime s forced abortions to ensure the one child policy is strictly adhered to thereby creating many opportunities for these sorts of atrocities to occur.

What would make people do such a thing without any fear of condemnation? Since Mao s Cultural Revolution, a complete lack of morality and respect for human life has become the norm in China. Over time, domination by the Chinese Communist regime has led to inhuman behavior and human rights violations resulting in abnormal practices such as cannibalism.



Verbetes de meu trabalho "A Língua de Pau - Uma história da Intolerância e da Deseinformação" (F.Maier):

Churrasquinho chinês - Durante a Revolução Cultural chinesa, muitos condenados à morte tinham seus corpos retalhados, assados e comidos. “Num massacre famoso, na escola de Mushan em 1968, na qual 150 pessoas morreram, vários fígados foram extirpados na hora e preparados com vinagre de arroz e alho” (“Canibais de Mao”, revista Veja, 22/01/1997, pg. 48-49). Essa prática de “canibalismo político” se tornou corriqueira, no período de 1968 a 1970, quando centenas de “inimigos do povo” foram devorados, conforme pesquisas de Zheng Yi em Guangxi. O trabalho de Zheng Yi, dissidente exilado nos EUA desde 1992, resultou no livro Scarlet Memorial - Tales of Cannibalism in Modern China (Memorial Escarlate - Histórias de Canibalismo na China Moderna). Na mesma época, havia um tipo de tortura sui generis: alguns presos, ainda vivos, tinham seus órgãos sexuais (pênis e testículos) arrancados, assados e comidos, como consta no mesmo artigo de Veja: “Wang Wenliu, maoísta promovida a vice-presidente do comitê revolucionário de Wuxuan durante a Revolução Cultural, especializou-se em devorar genitais masculinos assados”. “Documentos recentemente trazidos para o Ocidente por Zheng Vi, ex-membro dessas ‘milícias populares’, mostram que durante a ‘Revolução Cultural’, promovida por Mao Tsé-tung no final da década de 60, até o canibalismo entrava no ‘currículo’ dos alunos chineses. Naquela ocasião, na Província de Guangxi, crianças foram obrigadas a matar e devorar seus próprios professores!” (in A China do Pesadelo, site, acesso em 9/6/2011). “The stories of the many crimes and atrocities perpetrated by Communist regimes is generally well-known, but what about state-sponsored cannibalism? Time Magazine ran such a story in its January 18th, 1993 issue, titled ‘Unspeakable Crimes’, by Barbara Rudolph. In it is the testimony of a Chinese scholar that during Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ local officials of the Chinese Communist Party exhorted their comrades to devour ‘class enemies”. The details were revealed by Zheng Yi, a fugitive of the Tiananmen Square massacre and once China’s most-celebrated young novelist (his first novel, The Maple, about the Cultural Revolution, was used by the Politburo to attack The Gang of Four). His third novel made him a celebrity in the China of the 80’s and he and his wife both joined the pro-democracy movement. After the crackdown, his wife Bei Ming was imprisoned for 10 months and he went into hiding for nearly 3 years until both were able to successfully escape to Hong Kong and then onto the US” (in Communist Eat Their Class Enemies, de Adam Young - - acesso em 9/6/2011). “Acadêmicos” discorrem sobre a estranha teoria de o canibalismo ser válido, se consentido pela vítima, a exemplo do caso do canibal de Kassel, na Alemanha.

Filé cubano - O leitor já conhece o “churrasquinho chinês”. E o filé cubano? A crônica Os canibais, de Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, conta a história de Baldomero, o sujeito que vendia fígado de porco aos vizinhos, em Havana, a baixo preço, e até dava de graça alguns nacos. Depois, porém, foi pego em flagrante, ao sair do necrotério, onde trabalhava, com fígados humanos. Gutiérrez consola a prostituta com quem convivia: “Olhe, Isabel, já está comido e cagado. Esqueça. Além disso, estava uma delícia. Muito saboroso” (GUTIÉRREZ, 1999: 332).

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