Oct. 1, 2009, will mark the 60th anniversary of communist rule in mainland China. To mark the occasion, the opinion pages of the National Post present a week-long examination of communist China's past, present and future. Today, Conrad Black and George Jonas examine the mixed blessings that Mao's revolution has brought -- terror and mass murder in the early decades, followed by prosperity and limited freedom in more recent times.
Mao Zedong's victory 60 years ago, in the 28-year Chinese Civil War (which was scarcely interrupted by the 14-year Japanese invasion), was not so much a decisive turn in world affairs as the accession, soon after Mao's death, of Deng Xiaoping, in 1977.
The nearly 27 years that Mao led China were a succession of catastrophes. Scores of millions of people were more or less deliberately starved to death or otherwise disposed of, larger numbers than those achieved by Hitler and Stalin in the macabre 20th century sweepstakes of officially imposed mass murder.