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Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union$
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Felix Wemheuer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300195811

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300195811.001.0001

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“Eating Mice for the Liberation of Tibet”

“Eating Mice for the Liberation of Tibet”

Hunger in Official Chinese History

(p.175) 6 “Eating Mice for the Liberation of Tibet”
Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union

Felix Wemheuer

Yale University Press

This chapter shows how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used hunger as an argument in its narrative of the “liberation of Tibet.” It demonstrates how the creation of meaning and of dominant narratives was also linked with food politics. First, it analyzes the official version of history, according to which heroic soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) were willing to eat mice to liberate their fellow Tibetan countrymen. Second, it shows that Chinese historians selected sources to prove that the Chinese government made heroic efforts to feed Tibet, sources that gave the impression that Tibet was not affected by serious famine. Third, it reviews how Chinese scholars downplayed the excess mortality in Tibet. Finally, it argues that the burden of feeding the large population of Tibetan monks was used as an argument by the CCP to justify attacking the dominant clergy during the “democratic reforms” and that food metaphors were used to criticize a traditional Tibetan way of life.

Keywords:   China, Chinese Communist Party, hunger, famine, Tibet, food politics, People’s Liberation Army, Tibetan monks

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