‘ I have met many refugees from China, but Robert Loh is unique in that he can describe his experiences fully without fear that reprisals will be taken against close relatives. He left none behind. That is why he and I were able to write Escape from Red China. He is also unique in another respect: he insisted that I should depict him in such a way that the readers would despise him.
The reason he gave was this: in Communist China no one with honour, integrity and honesty could retain those virtues and survive; and Loh survived. He believes strongly that if the readers simply learned that only a scoundrel can live in the new China they would have gone far towards understanding Chinese Communism.
Loh learned to understand Chinese Communism the hard way – he lived it. He lived in constant danger, and mere survival required him to be utterly ruthless. Nevertheless, he clawed his way from near the bottom of the social scale to a position of considerable importance.
The story of Loh’s life in New China is not pretty, but it gives a vivid, detailed picture of the society which is evolving under Marxist – Leninist Maoism. For this reason alone we can be grateful that Loh fought to survive.
Few of us can imagine living in a society which repudiates the basic human values, but I believe that most otherwise decent people would behave much as Loh did. I doubt if any Western reader will consider that Loh’s behaviour was reprehensible. He never lost awareness of the human values, and his struggle was for the chance to live again as a decent human being. Moreover, in his efforts to endure, Loh never betrayed or endangered others.
This book, in fact, could not be written until certain central figures in the story were dead. Other characters could be protected adequately with simple literary disguises. The security problem was simple, however, compared with the problem of presenting the characters themselves accurately.
Loh speaks English well enough, but to explain to me precisely what the characters said, did and felt, was infinitely complicated; often I had to write and rewrite the same scenes innumerable times in order to achieve an effect that was neither over- nor under- stated.
Both Loh and I believe that this accuracy was extremely important. Refugees from New China are tempted to pour out their bitterness in violent terms.
The one really startling aspect of Communist China, however, is the fact that a small group of men has been able to achieve complete control over 650 million people. To make this achievement understandable, the Communists’ reasons for attempting it, the techniques they developed for the purpose, and the discipline they acquired in the process, must be described rationally and truthfully.
In short, this book is not intended to lament was has happened in China; it is intended to picture how and why it happened. If it succeeds in this, Loh will not have suffered in vain.’
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