Life and Death in Shanghai (Cheng)

Birth—January 28, 1915
Where—Beijing, China
Awards—Christopher Award
Currently—lives Washington, D.C., USA

Nien Cheng, born in on January 28, 1915, is a Chinese American author who recounted her harrowing experiences of the Cultural Revolution in her memoir Life and Death in Shanghai. Ms. Cheng became a target of attack by Red Guards due to her management of a foreign firm in Shanghai, Shell. Maoist revolutionaries used this fact to claim that Ms. Cheng was a British spy in order to strike at Communist Party moderates for allowing the firm to operate in China after 1949.

Cheng endured six-and-a-half years of squalid and inhumane conditions in prison, all the while refusing to give any false confession. Her daughter Meiping Cheng, a prominent Shanghai film actress, was murdered by Maoists after the young woman refused to denounce her mother. Ms. Cheng was rehabilitated after the Gang of Four (including Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's wife) were arrested, and she used the opportunity to leave for the United States, as she was still a constant target of surveillance by those who wished her ill.

Cheng used Mao's teachings successfully against her interrogators, frequently turning the tide of the struggle sessions against the interrogators. Some of the exchanges are hilarious in retrospect. The nonsense of revolutionary rhetoric is completely exposed by Ms. Cheng's brilliant counter interrogations against her oppressors. (From Wikipedia.)

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