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[00:00:02]

None of his feelings were for the tragedy he brought for the Chinese population and for the deaths of well over 70 million Chinese in peacetime, so he was basically saying, I can lose half of my people to get what I want.

[00:00:20]

I'm ready to take that risk.

[00:00:22]

Almost every act, every utterance is being criminalised at the very height of the Cultural Revolution. You speak out about whether you bring an egg to market. You might be condemned as a counter-revolutionary.

[00:00:37]

There are those who argue that had he been examined by the trained psychiatrist, you would have found in Mao, as you would say, aspects of personality disorder that might classify him as being clinically disturbed to the point of insanity. I mean, customarily, we say that in the league tables of horror, he comes up and Stalin and then Hitler. In July 1959, the leaders of China's Communist Party ascend Mount Lu. It's a forested peak in Shanxi Province in the southeast of the country, hidden away amongst the trees in a resort called Lushan.

[00:01:17]

They hold a conference, well, it's called a conference. But to their supreme leader, Mao Zedong's mind, this meeting is simply an occasion to rubber stamp the expansion of his great leap forward. Everything seems to be going into plan, but what happens next takes everyone by surprise.

[00:01:40]

My name is Paul McGann and welcome to Real Dictators, the series that explores the hidden lives of tyrants such as Adolf Hitler, Chairman Mao and Joseph Stalin. In this episode, we return to China and the story of the peasant son turned supreme leader Mao Zedong.

[00:02:00]

From Noisey podcast's, this is real dictators. The Communist Party of China gathered in the mountain resort of Russian. They've been summoned here by their leader, Chairman Mao, to sign off on the expansion of his great leap forward. This economic revolution has turned life in China's countryside upside down, Mao wants to push it even further. But unbeknownst to the chairman, his second in command, a man called UCSC, is preparing to make a decision of extraordinary personal bravery.

[00:02:58]

He's about to do the unthinkable and challenge the supreme leader. Jim is an author and academic based in London, England. She grew up in China. Chairman Mao casts a long shadow over her and her family knew she was a hard man. Otherwise, you wouldn't have become sort of Mao's number two. But even he felt that Mao was too extreme. It was an intolerable deal, went back to his home village and saw how the peasants were starved to how everybody hated the communists and how his sister, his brother, you know, his family were dying and so on.

[00:03:41]

And so Liu made the most courageous act in his life at this party Congress.

[00:03:49]

He was going to make a speech in his private quarters in the resort Lupin's, a speech that will truly put the cat amongst the pigeons.

[00:03:58]

And Mao was so convinced of Liu's obedience because Mao had to promote it. Liu and Liu had always told Mao Slime somehow didn't expect Liu would pull a fast one. And before that, Liu wrote a kind of draft. It wasn't the whole speech. It was a basic outline. And Mao Redditch Mao was pleased because there was nothing against his policies. So Mao even said, Oh well, then you don't have to, you know, read this speech and you can you can, you know, improvise.

[00:04:41]

As Lee rises to his feet in front of a gathered party workers, he prepares to veer wildly off script.

[00:04:50]

New child, she then went to speak and he said something completely different from his draft speech.

[00:04:59]

He said the Great Famine wasn't because of bad weather and it wasn't because of other reasons. It was a human mistake and we must stop it.

[00:05:09]

And Ma was furious because he hated to be outsmarted after his speech, the seven thousand pontificators in the conference hall, my father was one of them.

[00:05:23]

I mean, they were all excited that Leo had said these things.

[00:05:28]

This is not just a disagreement over policy. He was attacking Mao himself. Professor Frank DeCota is based in Hong Kong and reports on modern China. He spent years studying China's archives to build up a picture of life under Mao, to say that is a manmade disaster is actually a direct attack against the whole vision proposed by Mao with the great leap forward to the party chairman.

[00:05:57]

This is the ultimate betrayal. Never again will now assume his party underlings are on board with his ideas.

[00:06:06]

Now, more than ever, Mao's tactics of manipulation and coercion will be key from that moment onwards, the chairman becomes extremely suspicious and thinks that he has found the very man who will denounce him after his death is found, the man who will destroy his legacy, destroy his reputation.

[00:06:29]

Mao cannot tolerate defiance. His power relies on sycophantic subservience. Liu Shachi must be punished. But all in good time. Now can't turn on you immediately within the party, Lou is well known and well liked now will move slowly and carefully. Dr. Michael Lynch is an historian and biographer of Mao. There seems to be a, dare I say, a decency about him. You don't find him, Mao, you was moved, was hurt with pain by the famine when he realized how many had died.

[00:07:07]

And he pointed out publicly before the comrades that that policy obviously had gone wrong and had to be adjusted. Mao was outraged because we didn't do this. You didn't openly challenge. Now, Mao was wise enough still to know that you would still be useful as an administrator. So he keeps him on, but he is a marked man. From then on, this will be revenge served exceptionally cold. Mao's plan to destroy his second in command will unfold over a decade.

[00:07:43]

By 1965, Chairman Mao is 71 years old. He's been supreme leader of China for 16 long and painful years while his people toil. The chairman leaves a rarefied existence in the capital, Beijing. Years later, his private physician, a man called Dr. Lee's Idjwi, will write a book detailing the decadence he witnessed firsthand. Dr. Lee lives with his wife and two children in the chairman's compound at the heart of the Forbidden City. The center of Chinese state power is often summoned in the early hours of the morning to attend to Mao's illnesses.

[00:08:22]

To his whims. He accompanies the chairman on trips around the country and abroad. Now is a man who avoids friendship to him, people are subjects or slaves. He's an insomniac, often rising late and working into the night. When he's not working, he relaxes in his private swimming pool or pursues young women, Mao believes that sating is voracious sexual appetite keeps him young, prolonging his life. In fact, according to Dr. Lee, Mao is riddled with sexually transmitted diseases, but he refuses to be treated.

[00:09:02]

Instead, he passes them on to the countless women who share his bed. Lee claims some of the women are even proud to be infected. It becomes a sign of status, a symbol of closeness to the chairman. Mao never washes his hands or face. His bodyguards wipe him down with hot towels. Like many peasants in China, Mao's teeth have garnered a green patina over the years, the result of washing his mouth with tea and eating the tea leaves.

[00:09:33]

Lee suggests using a toothbrush, Mao responds. A tiger never brushes his teeth. Mao may be living a life of luxury beyond the comprehension of many of his subjects, but he's not as secure as he once seemed. The Great Leap Forward is cack handed policy to modernize the Chinese economy overnight has proved disastrous. Famine is rife. And for the first time, there are murmurs within the Communist Party that perhaps the Great Helmsman should be replaced. Rather than wait for his enemies to come at him, Mao decides to seize the initiative.

[00:10:12]

Jonathan Clements is author of Mao Zedong Life and Times, Mao was worried about capitalist roaders, he was worried that the Chinese were losing sight of the communist utopia that everyone was aiming for. And he thought that China needed to go through a severe period of self-criticism, of self realisation, to stop people from developing a love of capitalist things, of material objects. He was determined to remind people that, in his words, a revolution is not a dinner party.

[00:10:45]

We are going to have to break some heads. We are going to have to be very tough on ourselves in not succumbing to the temptations of what he called the capitalist road.

[00:10:57]

Mao is planning another revolution every bit as devastating as the Great Leap Forward. But it will be more sinister and intangible in its execution. He calls it the Cultural Revolution. From his perch at the top of the party, Mao has been watching and learning. He believes he's being held back, by the way, the Chinese people think they're not ready for Maoism, people are too comfortable there to set in their ways to tempted by Western ways of doing things, Western ways of thinking.

[00:11:33]

Mao is determined to purge China of these bourgeois thoughts he claims linger in the minds of an older generation. Ma wants all 600 million Chinese to practice what he terms true communist right thinking. It goes without saying that he will be the person to dictate what this right thinking is, Dr. Michael Lynch, Mao said that beauty was a capitalist notion. So when you listen, say Beethoven and many Chinese love Western classical music by that time and in the conservatoire, they learn Beethoven, Mozart.

[00:12:09]

He said that that's where corruption begins because those two great artists, great artists, inverted commas were capitalist constructs and their works were a way of portraying, extending and dominating the true world through capitalist cultural values. So destroy it. You can't afford to have capitalism in a proletarian society. All culture must be proletarian because we are proletarians. And he said, I think few people dispute this. The old cultures take their character from the class structure in which they exist.

[00:12:42]

You could have, but certainly Western classical music and art and sculpture is a product of capitalism. So socialist realism, you don't have abstractness either in music or in art, painting or sculpture. It's got to tell a story in itself. It's got to be a narrative to it. And so it's a rejection of culture in the way it had developed in other areas through the 20th century. Extraordinary piece of destruction. Mao's hypocrisy is bleated to those in his orbit, but hidden from the country at large.

[00:13:14]

While Western culture is denounced, the chairman hosts debauch dance parties in his private rooms. Party secretaries, specially selected for their looks, are brought to these soirees, then encouraged into the Great Helmsman's bedroom mountains. A wingman to help him execute his cultural revolution with the Great Leap Forward now made the mistake of trusting his party deputies. He does not intend to repeat that mistake. This time he turns to the one person he can trust. Absolutely his fourth wife, Jianqing, the woman known as Madam Mao.

[00:13:55]

Jianqing is a former actress from Shanghai. She first became Mao's lover during the 1940s. Madam Mao has been by her husband's side as he's gone from strength to strength. Jonathan Clements. The big woman in Mou's life, the famous women in my life, was Jianqing, who was an actress from Shanghai who became his lover in Yinan around 1940. They've basically fallen out with each other by 1942, but they stayed together in some way for the rest of their lives.

[00:14:29]

Jianqing was a relatively minor actress who was suddenly in a position of fantastic power. And as Mao rose through the party, Jianqing adopted a role as a kind of cultural secretary. She began to initiate cultural policies. She began to see what plays were worth performing and what films were worth performing. And she started to enact an increasingly invasive role. In nineteen sixty one. She actually came to me and said, There's a play called Hideaway Dismissed from office, which I'm very suspicious about.

[00:15:01]

I think it's an attack on you. And at the time I said, Oh no, I'm sure it's fine. It was only later on during the Cultural Revolution that he decided that it was an attack on him, that it was a coded reference to his dismissal of wonder why and that the author ought to be purged during the Cultural Revolution. Jianqing actually defines what the canon of performable operas should be. And there's a bunch of pretty awful unwatchable plays and ballets which are designed to instill party virtue.

[00:15:31]

They're still performed today, but even at the time they were originally put on, they had trouble filling the theaters in these later years of the regime, Madame Mao is more powerful and manipulative than ever.

[00:15:44]

As she got older, she became increasingly neurotic and increasingly hypochondriac. She began to control Mao or control position within the party by feigning illnesses all the time. She was always in bed saying that she was able to see if there was ever anything she disagreed with. She'd say that given a conniptions, she described herself as Mao's dog. When he said bite, I bit. But the others called her the white boned demon together.

[00:16:12]

Chairman and Madam Mao make a formidable pair. Mao begins his new cultural revolution with an approach so vague it can be molded at his whim to any purpose. Professor Frank DeCota.

[00:16:25]

My mind is sixty eight. Sixty nine. There are campaigns that are so vague as to pretty much make any statement and any activity. A counter-revolutionary crime. You speak out about the weather, you bring an egg to market. You might be condemned as a counter-revolutionary. You might be denounced by a neighbor. The provinces where one in 50 people, two percent of the population gets swept up by these campaigns in nineteen sixty eight, sixty nine, nineteen seventy.

[00:17:01]

So almost every act, every utterance is being criminalised at the very height of the Cultural Revolution, to not speak properly about the chairman, to not bow properly, to not listen respectfully to the local cadre, to not work hard enough. Anything is open to criticism. Anything could lead a person to being denounced, prosecuted, sent to a labor camp or somehow punished in one way or another. So it's not so much the death rate. It is the sheer extent of these campaigns that are meant to cower the population.

[00:17:39]

Dr Michael Lynch and he then paranoid and I'll use the word carefully. They're fearful that in his old age and he's he's now in his 70s, fearful that his revolution will not outlive him, he determined to destroy all elements of possible opposition, real and imagined within China.

[00:18:01]

And so he launches what becomes known as the great proletarian people's revolution. It's really a way of removing any possible hint of criticism, but it goes beyond that because what Mao said was, if we could be truly socialist, biggest communist socialist, we must be absolute in this. We can't play at it.

[00:18:20]

And therefore, comrades, we must remove from positions of influence or authority anyone who will delay or slow down the process of revolution. So let's attack what he called the four old old ideas, always old customs, old old pursuit. Now that covered everything. It's one of these blanket for old. So anything you disapproved of came under attack. As a guide to his thinking. Mao publishes a holdall primer of Maoist principles. It's called Little Red Book, and it's exactly that.

[00:18:56]

It's Mao's version of Marx's Communist Manifesto as a collection of over 400 of Mao's sayings. It's a window into the mind of a violent dictator. War is the continuation of politics, he writes. War is the highest form of struggle. It is up to us to organize the people where the broom does not reach the dust will not vanish of itself. Let us hold their banner high and march ahead along the path crimson with the blood shifting over a billion copies.

[00:19:33]

The Little Red Book is a blockbuster. It's one of the most printed volumes in history. My intention is to capture the minds of his people. He targets one particular demographic. Those he can mold most easily, the young males, is the voice that he's heard repeatedly.

[00:19:53]

It's males writings and Mao's thoughts. And this becomes much more important later on when you have an entire generation who he's raised on the thoughts of of of Mao Zedong.

[00:20:02]

A generation of children raised on the Little Red Book becomes a compliant personal army, ready and willing to enforce Mao as well. The chairman creates and organizes a vast force of student paramilitaries. They're known as the Red Guards within the Communist Party. Mao may be facing muted opposition from people his own age, but he has cornered the youth market. In an extraordinary twist, Mao incites his teen army to rise up and overthrow their elders.

[00:20:36]

He does a very clever thing psychologically. He calls on the young to be the instruments of this great Gavyn Tiananmen Square million plus palpated youngsters between 14 and 23, we think, and Mao and its great appeal to them. You are China. You are the future. Your father's your grandfather's. They tried, but they didn't succeed fully. You alone can do it. You are the future. Young people rise up. Do as we suggest you to purify our society from all those corrupting elements.

[00:21:11]

Juancho was herself a child in China at the time, the Cultural Revolution was basically Mao's revenge against his party colleagues and the party, but the party was this gigantic machine that had been running China. You know, Mao's wishes were imposed on the population by the party. So how did Mao get the population to punish the officials? And so he wanted to create a gigantic terror, to terrorize the population and to make people see that he Mao alone, wanted them to do nasty things to the party officials the population had been fearful of.

[00:21:58]

And so he moved and created this again, this gigantic terror campaign. And this was Mao's standard procedure. When he wanted to do something, he always created terror.

[00:22:10]

The Red Guards first target is carefully chosen. The adults at the top of the hit list are the children's teachers. In 1966, he first used schoolchildren to create terror, more understood teenagers, particularly teenage boys, very well. And he stopped a scolding. And Mao said, you know, now they they have no schools to go to. What do they do?

[00:22:38]

They create violence and in order to create this violence, more needed victims. And so he made the school teachers the primary targets to generate violence and atrocities from these two teenagers.

[00:22:59]

Mao did not particularly hate these children.

[00:23:03]

He did not even particularly hate the teachers. He regarded himself as a teacher, but his calculation was in order to generate the terror so he could overthrow his party enemies, he needed these two teenagers and then he needed the victims to feed them, to feed the perpetrators of violence and atrocities.

[00:23:31]

So it was a complete cynical calculation across China and seems so dystopian that can hardly be believed. Thousands of teachers are assaulted by pupils who once looked up to them. In Beijing alone, hundreds are murdered. Jinsheng remembers the scenes all too well. She was right there in my school. There was tremendous violence. My headmaster couldn't stand it and he was trying to commit suicide by slashing his neck. A gardener in the school. I think he had being a nationalist officer.

[00:24:10]

So he was singled out and beaten to death. And Mao also had said that cultivate flowers and the grass was a bourgeois habit. And he said, get rid of the flowers. In fact, on the eve of the Cultural Revolution in the school, we had to go out and to remove the grass from the school lawn. And so this gardener was was killed. I saw teachers being abused and beaten and it was absolutely horrible.

[00:24:41]

With the teachers decimated, Mao turns his attention to his envoys of terror themselves, the children. The adults have been purged. Now it's time for the youth to turn on each other. Also, one thing that I think make me feel was so unforgivable was that he used the children as victims or children were put into different categories, and there were the red and there were they black, there were the gray. And because my parents were communist officials, I had been regarded from a red category.

[00:25:18]

The children whose families were designated to undesirables were called the blacks. And when the Cultural Revolution started, the Reds children were encouraged to abuse the black and the gray. In one case, I think there was a girl who was deemed to have come from a gray and sort of family background, and she was tormented by her fellow pupils. And so she jumped from a third floor window. She didn't die, but she broke her legs. The next time I saw her, she was on crutches.

[00:25:57]

But I caught that moment because I was on the campus. And, of course, I was a long distance away and there were trees between us. But I just saw this vague image of a body just sort of on the air. I can't tell you how much sort of psychological trauma that caused me.

[00:26:18]

It's not just teachers and students who are targets for violence, anyone or anything associated with art, literature, music, anything with faintly Western cultural influences. It's all fair game. In Mao's eyes, these pernicious aspects of Chinese life need to be ruthlessly exterminated. Pretty soon, China has become a cultural desert. Mouse power over China as a whole is based on his power within the Communist Party, if he reasserts his authority over the party and he will be more secure as China's supreme leader.

[00:26:55]

So in the fall of 1967, Mao orders his devoted Red Guards to extend their reign of terror to his political opponents. The purge of the party unfaithful is Mou's way of settling old scores, the method of surgery was used. You've got to cut out the cancer in order for the body politic to recover. So violence is not simply a means to an end. It's an absolute requirement in any revolutionary situation. Violence is a definition revolution.

[00:27:28]

Before punishment is meted out, the enemies of men were paraded around town squares with sacks over their heads and boards around their necks, labelling them as traitors. Hundreds of thousands of party officials are sent to labor camps driven to suicide or simply murdered on the spot. For many, the only crime they've committed is expressing reservations about their leader. Maoist order in the party has restored. Now now has the room to move in on his primary target, his second in command, Lieshout G.

[00:28:06]

The man who once dared to stand up to Mao is about to pay the price. It's 1968 and Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution, intended to crush the thoughts of all who oppose him, is reaching its end game. Mao is well into his eighth decade, but while he may be elderly, is more determined than ever to hang onto power. The twilight years are often the prime time to take down a dictator when physical frailty sets in, all those wronged over the years gather to wreak vengeance.

[00:28:45]

I is determined to preempt any attempts on his authority or his life. The man in his crosshairs as his own deputy chief, Liu is popular within the ruling Communist Party now needs to prepare the ground for this biggest of takedowns. So the chairman begins a campaign to undermine U.S. credibility.

[00:29:07]

Mao wanted to punish his party enemies family Zhao Chee, two party officials. But all the time he was also trying to be, you know, the good guy. I mean, nobody would have any sympathy for him if he spelled out the real reason why he hated SHAWKI So he had to create all sorts of accusations like Liu had to being a traitor, you know, had betrayed the trade unions, betrayed the party and so on. And also, he still wanted to keep this a facade, that he was doing something ideologically pure.

[00:29:50]

And regarding Liu and the party officials to be pursuing a capitalist road, which was why he could maintain this deception, which was why his portrait could still be on Tiananmen Gate. His corpse could still be in the center of the Chinese capital for people to worship his face.

[00:30:13]

Still, while every Chinese bank note because he avoided making the real issue of the difference between him and Liu and the other party officials public, the state propaganda machine obediently whirs into action. In a salvo of pamphlets, public statements and newspaper headlines, Liu's reputation is destroyed. Then, like millions of his countrymen and women before him, Blue is publicly accused and assaulted, these people were then subjected to denunciation meetings.

[00:30:51]

Typically, they would be stood on the stage facing hysterical crowds and their arms were ferocious. They pulled to the back and their heads were ferociously pushed down and they were kicked and beaten and tortured and made to kneel on broken glass being paraded in the streets and then eventually sent to the camps. Lelantos, over a year of torture and humiliation. Only after that, in a prison cell comes death. But it's no mercy. This final chapter of Leo's life is planned personally by Mao to be a slow and excruciating as possible, he and his wife are arrested, publicly humiliated.

[00:31:39]

Then she suffers an appalling fate. He was a diabetic by that time, and Mao denies him the right to treatment, the medicines he could have had. And he said he died. Lying on a prison cell and dying in his own filth is a grim story because he's a man from the long march on and be Mao's greatest associate in Mao's depravity is left in no doubt, he demands Liu's slow and painful death is filmed for his personal pleasure. Crazy and I mean that.

[00:32:13]

Not in a loose sense. There are those who argue that had he been examined, you would have found in Mao, as you would in Hitler, say, aspects of personality disorder that might classify him as being clinically disturbed to the point of insanity. Easy to throw in as an idea, not provable, but he is so extreme. And we mentioned earlier, I think this unwillingness to listen to anybody else and unwillingness to tell him what he should know, that great leaders become detached from reality.

[00:32:47]

The demise of Luchi is a high watermark of Mao's Cultural Revolution. It's a revolution that has decimated Mao's rivals, both real and imagined. In all, two million of China's best educated citizens are murdered. Millions more are sent to labor camps far from creating a utopian society, Mao has melted China into a country built on terror and state control. His legacy of needless deaths is so great in number, the exact total may never be known. In the early 1970s, as he approaches his 80th birthday, Mao's health begins to deteriorate, but he still has energy enough to work the crowds and press the flesh.

[00:33:39]

Obviously, we met people like Nixon in 72 and others later and they said that he was still very conscious and very alert, didn't speak easily, but could understand and could respond through interpreters. But that capacity decreases. So the last year of his life, he is often comatose. But again, nobody moves till he's gone. In 1974, Mao is silenced by a degenerative condition. It makes him unintelligible to all but his personal nurse.

[00:34:08]

He lost the power of speech the last two years, a burbled. And one of the extraordinary details there is one of these train journeys. He saw pretty girl out of the window. He called her in a mater, one of his girls in his harem. And because of her personality and cheekiness, she rises to the top and becomes his confident and he'll speak to her. And she would then translate his mumbling, dribbling utterances to officials who write it down.

[00:34:33]

So this girl, she began DLT on the platform when he first saw within four years, five years, she's become the voice of Mao homosexually. Nonetheless, despite his feebleness, the Communist Party chairman remains untouchable. The fearful discipline is instilled into his party and his populous means that even though he's become incapable of leading the country, he is still unquestionably number one all the time as he is aging through the revolution, they know he's going to die at some point.

[00:35:07]

We all have to go and he becomes quite ill. And his last five years, he got a doctorate, probably Parkinson's, Alzheimer's. But as long as he was alive moving, nobody could move against him.

[00:35:17]

Beneath the surface, Mao is ravaged by an increasing sense of paranoia. He was in power for 27 years and he lived as though she was in the war zone, ready to flee all the time, on the eve of taking power in forty nine, his old friend went to see him and was told that Mao would shake like a leaf, as they say, if he set eyes on a stranger. This guy was about to take power in China and he was of intense fear.

[00:35:54]

Perhaps it's a psychological punishment for his total lack of empathy for other people's lives in the Cultural Revolution. You know, Mao had these villas. The security was so incredible. I visited these villas and I saw their security.

[00:36:15]

There would be a railway line going in to his villa and a car would drive Mao into basically a sitting room. And the gates on both sides would come down before Mao got out and he was ready to flee at the drop of a hat. He often slept on his special train, which was parked on the military airport so he could take off any time. There was a danger. He had this intense fear inside him, so he never dared to announce his death or his other opponents deaths.

[00:37:00]

And, you know, most people would dance on the enemy's grave, but he was in such fear and he wasn't even able to indulge a celebration in his final years. Mao cannot avoid the knowledge that his party believes he's failed.

[00:37:18]

But by then, of course, the work has been done, the destructive work has been done. Whether he was happy with it is another matter. When Nixon said to him, What are your great achievement? He said, I have none. Now, whether that's just being self-effacing, an interview I'd rather poignant.

[00:37:33]

It's why the thing is that, you know, Mao was extremely selfish, man.

[00:37:38]

I think that's probably the most single, most important character in him in his last month.

[00:37:47]

He was very sentimental. He was full of self-pity. He often cry, cried like a phantom, anything that would remind him of his past glory, like of conquering China. It would make him cry because he felt he was a failure. He hadn't fulfilled his dream of building China into this military superpower so he could dominate the world. He didn't feel satisfied. He was full of self-pity, but none of his feelings were for the tragedy he brought for the Chinese population and for the deaths of well over 70 million Chinese in peacetime.

[00:38:37]

In 1976, the elderly chairman suffered three heart attacks. It's hardly surprising he's been a chain smoker for much of his life. A few days after the third cardiac arrest on September the 9th, 1976, after 27 years in power. Mao Zedong, supreme leader of China, dies. The Communist Party marks his passing with hysterical scenes of national mourning, one million people pay their respects to his embalmed body on display at the Great Hall of the people draped in a Communist Party flag.

[00:39:18]

Millions more exhale with relief at the passing of Chairman Mao. In the years after his death, Mao's ideology is almost entirely spurned. Many of those in prison become the country's future leaders as China embarks on a 40 year flirtation with state sponsored capitalism. But the chairman's legacy remains a difficult thing to navigate. The imprint of his cultural revolution runs deep for a generation raised on nothing but Maoism. Though a sadist and a despot, today, his portrait remains everywhere.

[00:39:57]

The legacy, of course, one still debates many Chinese today, so the reason why we have great industrial growth, but we lack culture is because we destroyed it 30, 40 years ago. We're only now piecing it together and we still run by a Communist Party, which technically still under the name of Mao. May have reversed its policy, but he still never been destroyed in the way that Stalin was destroyed in the Soviet. So Mao began. It's one of the greatest legacies, the culture revolution and its destructive legacy.

[00:40:23]

That's the great tragedy. Now is the man who united China under a central government and modernized its economy. But killed unthinkable numbers of his own people in the process. Various estimates still are still being produced about the number of deaths in Mao's time. I mean, customarily, we say that in the league tables of horror, he comes top and Stalin and then Hitler. Pol Pot's the worst in terms of proportion because he killed a quarter of the Cambodian population.

[00:40:55]

But Mao's record is pretty grim. Exact figures we can never have. I mean, I've seen 40 million counted and justified. I've seen 20 million on a more conservative estimate somewhere between those two. You, Max, it would be the reasonable conclusion, but I don't think it's a numbers in the end. It's the fact that so many of those deaths were avoidable.

[00:41:19]

He's inescapably central to the history of the world's most populous country. But for those who suffered under Mao's reign of terror and escaped it, any attempt to qualify his cruelty or rehabilitate his image in any way is a total non-starter. More than 40 years on from his death. He still looms large in the Chinese collective psyche. Mao didn't try to build the nation and destroyed a nation. He didn't unify China. China was a unified the place. I mean, he said people against each other.

[00:41:56]

He brought great chaos and tragedies and suffering to this nation. He was not a builder. He was a destroyer. The distracter I mean, he said so himself. Mao was in the league of a Hitler and Stalin. Next time when real dictators. In 1945, a young American trained doctor touches down on the tarmac, his home. Haiti is where he was born and bred. His name is Francois Duvalier. He will become better known by his nickname Papa Doc.

[00:42:40]

In a few short years, Papa Doc will have used modern medicine to fool the people of this tropical Caribbean nation into believing that he is a voodoo God. It'll become the bloodiest dictator the country has ever seen and a constant thorn in the side of the United States and its allies. We'll tell you the story of how he did it. That's next time a real dictator's.

[00:43:10]

Real dictators is presented by me home again. The show was created by Pascal, who's produced by Joel de Down, edited by James Tindale and Katrina Hughes. The music was composed or assembled by Oliver Baines from Flight Brigade. The strings were recorded by Doree McCallie, the sound mixer is Tom Pink. The sound recordist is Robbie Stamm, Real Dictators is a noisy and world media writes co-production. If you haven't already, we'd love you to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite shows or check us out at Real Dictators Dotcom.

[00:43:55]

Hi, I'm Molly. I'm the guy who does the music for real dictators. Thanks so much for listening to the show.

[00:44:00]

We massively appreciate everyone's support. This is just a heads up to let you know that real dictators will be taking a week off next week before returning on Wednesday, August 26th on that date will be bringing you the first of two episodes on the Haitian dictator, Papa Doc. Until then, thanks from all of us in the news, a team we hope you continue to enjoy our show's.