What do you see as the most significant features of the system of imprisonment and interrogation used by Chinese authorities against people like Ma Bo during the Cultural Revolution?

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I had been abandoned.

Ma Bo's 1995 memoir, Blood Red Sunset, is his story of life during China's Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), in which thousands of people were "purged" for a variety of crimes, most of which involved speaking freely or criticizing Mao and the Communist state. Because of the constant propaganda of the state, the cult of personality around Mao, and the lack of free speech and free press, the Chinese people were conditioned to be suspicious of their neighbors and to look out for anything that can be considered counter-revolutionary or reactionary. A saying of the time was "Mao Zedong's thought is in total command" (120).

Bo is denounced, arrested, and interrogated. The methods the authorities use are common in repressive, one-party states. They verbally berate Bo, continually telling him that he's an enemy of the state and that he's guilty. Initially, he's not even sure why he's arrested and what his supposed crimes are, but that's irrelevant to the authorities. There's no room for doubt or questioning in this system. In his cell, he's chained and his movement is so limited that he needs help going to the bathroom, which just adds to the humiliation. He's cold, he's in pain, and he's isolated, which begins to break him down: "By now the mental strain was taking its toll" (111). Their abuse, both verbal and physical, has its desired effect: he writes the confession they wanted, is convicted, and consequently exiled to Mongolia, where he does hard labor. His fate serves as an example for others and shows the state in absolute control.

For further reading, I'd highly recommend Frank Dikotter's books on Communist China.

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