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About the Author

Inclui os nomes: Ji-li Jiang, Ji-ii Jiang

Image credit: By Jeffrey Beall - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33792143

Obras por Ji-li Jiang


Conhecimento Comum

Nome canónico
Jiang, Ji-li
Data de nascimento
Locais de residência
Shanghai, China
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
Shanghai Teacher's College
Shanghai University
University of Hawaii
science teacher
operations analyst for a hotel chain
budget director for a healthcare company

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Ji-li Jiang came to the United States in 1984. She worked at various jobs, until she started her own company, East West Exchange, in 1992. Her company promotes cultural exchange between Western countries and China. She is the author of two books: her memoir, Red Scarf Girl; and The Magical Monkey King, a retelling of traditional Chinese tales.




Chairman Mao Zedong's Five-Year Plan and Great Leap Forward were economic and social failures, causing massive starvation; it is estimated that between 22-55 million died. Rightly, Mao was removed from national leadership, although he still led the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, he was getting older and coveted a way to regain power. Therefore, in 1966, he instigated a rebellion against the political administration, claiming there were "bourgeoisie" inside the government. Bourgeoisie was code word for foreign capitalist or capitalist sympathizer.

Mao mobilized the youth through the CCP (just like George Soros does through certain political parties) to challenge the establishment and purge capitalist "influencers or sympathizers" of the state or those who "exploited the lower classes" (like landlords or anyone wealthy). The youth, or students, were perfect pawns because Mao knew they were impressionable (which means they knew nothing and would believe anything) and that if he did not "remold" them first, then the enemy could just as well have influenced them.

These youth were called the Red Guards, and the state police were instructed to protect them while they entered private homes and terrorized anyone whom they believed did not comply with the CCP. (Sadly, young people tend to be more than eager to lash out because their hearts are ripe with rebellion.)

The Red Guards evicted families, ransacked homes, and confiscated personal belongings (which is another name for theft). They made examples of people through public humiliation, beat some to death, and caused others to commit suicide out of shame. Even beloved teachers and principals were targeted. Schools were closed and 16 million young people were sent to the country to do hard labor and be reeducated to remove old ideas. Churches and other symbols of Chinese heritage were destroyed and Imperial history was rewritten and replaced with Mao-centered history. (How dull!)

This sad period, the Cultural Revolution, continued for ten years, until Mao's death in 1976. Besides enabling Mao to squeeze his way back into power, another object of the Cultural Revolution was to destroy culture reminiscent of pre-communist China. It was a rebellion against the Four Olds: old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits or traditions. What these "Olds" represented was vague; therefore, Red Guards were permitted to roam the streets terrorizing others at their own whim. By the end of the Cultural Revolution, it is estimated that 8 million more Chinese were dead.


Red Scarf Girl takes place during the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Ji-Li Jiang was 12-years old, in 1966, and had a promising future ahead of her. She was bright and well-liked by her teachers and peers. She loved her family, especially her grandma who lived with them, and their housekeeper, who was like a family member.

Ji-Li was excited to do the work Chairman Mao was influencing young people to do -- to root out the Four Olds. She was "certain that [she and her peers] were bringing a new life to China." She "felt [she] was already a Liberation Army soldier who was ready to go out for battle."

But life in China was quickly changing, and it was going to get worse. Ji-Li learned that her family was considered a "black family" because they employed a housekeeper, which was exploitive, and her grandfather had been a landlord while he had been alive. They were labeled capitalist.

Change was so frequent that Ji-Li lived in continuous fear and apprehension.

One day, Ji-Li's father was detained for three months, accused of listening to foreign radio. He was a man of integrity and would never confess to something that was not true. The entire family was targeted and publicly shamed as a "big landlord family." Ji-Li was angry that fate caused her to be born into this family. She thought she could distance herself and overcome her background, through communist activities and hard labor, but she could not wash the stain away, no matter what she did.

Instead, she learned something about herself. During her father's detainment, Ji-Li was pressured to disown her parents. But she would not. She learned that all of her actions had proven to herself that she would always be loyal to her family first, even over her political ambitions.
My family was too precious to forget, and too rare to replace.
Once my life had been defined by my goals: to be a da-dui-zhang, to participate in the exhibition, to be a Red Guard. They seemed unimportant to me now. Now my life was defined by my responsibilities. I had promised to take care of my family, and I would renew that promise every day. I could not give up or withdraw, no matter how hard life became.

If you are like me and did not know anything about the Cultural Revolution (CR), this is an exceptional primary source, easy to digest, and eye-opening. I was dumbfounded by what Ji-Li and her family had lived through. I already know communist totalitarians are horrible people when they get hold of absolute power, but this takes it to a new level. Ji-Li witnessed horror and lived through terror, and her family status held her and her siblings back until after the CR was over.

In her Epilogue, she admitted that they were all brainwashed. "Mao was a god. He controlled everything..." She said that after his death in 1976, people woke up. The CR was "a power struggle at the highest levels of the Party." Mao took advantage of the people's trust "to manipulate the whole country." Ji-Li said that "the most frightening lesson of the CR: Without a sound legal system, a small group or even a single person can take control of an entire country. This is as true now as it was then."

I would add that in the United States, if it were not for our Constitution, we would be further along in the abyss than we already are. I mean, we are getting there, but it is a challenge because of our Founding Document, which some would like to burn because it is an obstacle to absolute power. Everything is a power struggle. It is always about greedy power.

* * *
… (mais)
GRLopez | May 6, 2024 |
Independent Reading Level: Ages 5-8
Awards: Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature (Winner — Picture Book — 2014)
LelandWarnack | 53 outras críticas | Apr 10, 2024 |
Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, a heartwarming tale of a father and son whose love never stops soaring.

Tai Shan and his father, Baba, like to climb to the tippy-top of their roof and fly kites. The two kites—one red and one blue—rise and dive through the sky together. But one day, Baba is taken away to a labor camp, and Tai Shan must stay with a woman called Granny Wang, who is not his grandmother but is kind to him. A thick forest and many miles stand between father and son. Luckily, Baba devises a secret way for them to talk: Every morning, Tai Shan flies his red kite on the hill, and every evening Baba flies his blue one. The kites wave in the wind and whisper messages of comfort until the two are reunited. Ruth’s muted primary palette of dusty tans and browns are a stark contrast to the few carefully placed flashes of color. The Red Guards’ armbands blaze angrily, yet the two kites soaring in the sky and the bright orange leaves on the trees are spots of hope.

Though this is told against the backdrop of a dark part of Chinese history, any child coping with separation from a loved one may find comfort in this story. (author's note) (Picture book. 5-8)

-Kirkus Review
… (mais)
CDJLibrary | 53 outras críticas | Apr 2, 2024 |
Ji-li Jiang turned twelve in 1966, the year The Cultural Revolution began. She was an excellent student and lived with her parents, two siblings, and grandmother in one room in Shanghai. At first, she joyfully embraces the new revolutionary mandates and dreams of becoming a Red Guard. When Chairman Mao instructs the country to sweep out the Fourolds (old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits), she joins in readily. When this is followed by sweeping educational reforms, and she has to denounce her teachers, she becomes uncertain. Then her family is attacked, and she must make even tougher decisions about whether to be loyal to family, tainted by a landowning grandfather who died when her father was seven, or remain an "educable" child.

The author grew up in Shanghai, but moved to the United States when she was thirty. She wrote this book in the hopes of helping Americans understand China a bit more. Because the audience is for middle school or high school students, the book is written simply, but it remains a powerful story. I was surprised at the extent to which elementary aged students were embroiled in the work of the revolution (writing propaganda or da-zi-bao posters, participating in study groups and struggle sessions, and working on rural farms during the summer). It was interesting seeing Ji-li evolve from being a unquestioning follower as she experiences more of life during the Cultural Revolution. It was also interesting to see traces of her family's Muslim faith appear during times of stress. Her afterward provides updates on the fates of several of her schoolfriends, as well as her family, after the book ends in 1968. There is a helpful glossary as well.
… (mais)
labfs39 | 58 outras críticas | Mar 9, 2024 |



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