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Life and Death in Shanghai

Author: Nien Cheng

Nien Cheng, was a lady of wealth working for Shell Oil in Shanghai when she was confronted in the 1960s by China's Red Guards.

Following the revolution in China in 1949, the Communist Party of China saw benefit in doing business with Shell Oil and allowing Shell Oil to maintain an office in Shanghai. Soon after the revolution an official representing the Communist Party visited Nien Cheng, introducing himself by spitting on her carpet -- to show his contempt, of course. A good party man such as he felt obliged to demonstrate his newly acquired superiority to someone of wealth.

In 1966, China had many such revolutionaries – mostly young people – made obnoxious by the intensity of their convictions. Nien Cheng tells the story of her suffering at the hands of the Red Guards, beginning in 1966.

The Red Guards, encouraged by their number and unrestrained by modesty, wisdom or compassion were human nature at its worst.