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The Militant, 30 March 1946

Mike Cort

Famine Strikes Chinese Farmers;
10,000,000 Eat Grass and Clay

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 13, 30 March 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Millions of Chinese farmers, located on the country’s richest rice lands, are today slowly starving to death. 10,000,000 people in Hunan Province rely for sustenance on grass and a native clay which they refer to as “kwanyin” (Goddess of Mercy). This appalling news was reported this week by Dr. Ting-fu F. Tsiang, Chinese delegate to the Atlantic City meeting of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration.

After years of sacrifice in the war against the Japanese imperialists, the Chinese people find that peace brings them the gift of starvation, And if they had any illusion that succor in their final extremity would be forthcoming from their Anglo-American “allies,” this illusion is now dispelled. For official UNRRA figures reveal that contemplated relief for China’s starving millions amounts to $1.25 per capita – hardly sufficient to displace clay as a diet staple.

All of China has been allocated 47,800 tons of relief grain for 1946, according to Dr. Tsiang. But Hong Kong, the British crown colony, has been allocated 23,000 tons, nearly half the amount for the whole of China.

No Aid at Home

Nor can the Chinese people look to their own government for aid. Chiang Kai-shek’s corrupt regime is today spending more money for military purposes than it has earmarked for food for the starving.

Dr. Tsiang gave a vivid description of the plight of his people to the Atlantic City meeting. He said, “The people are eating grass. The farmers and peasants now have marked up the grass into lots. This lot belongs to my family, that lot to your family. They also eat a kind of clay which is a greyish, tasteless business.”

These conditions mean that in Hunan province alone, according to a March 22 dispatch from Chungking to the N.Y. Times, 4,000,000 Chinese will die of starvation unless adequate relief is provided.

A representative from Hupeh declared that conditions in his province were far worse than those reported in Hunan. In Hupeh, he said, there is only dirt to eat.

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