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Chinese Communists and their sympathizersnotably Edgar Snow (Red Star Over China, The Battle for Asia) and Agnes Smedley, daughter of a U.S. coal miner and author of China's Red Army Marches and Battle Hymn of China, were eloquent about Yenan. Other touring U.S. correspondents have lauded Yenan's agrarian reforms, labor unions, well-fed troops, efficient guerrilla organization. They have never reported Yenan's rigorous press censorship (much stricter than Chungking's), its iron party discipline, "traitors' [concentration] camps," secret police, other totalitarian features.
The Wild Artichoke. But a new glimpse of Yenan was revealed in four articles entitled Wild Artichoke. Written by Wang Shih-wei, the articles appeared in Yenan's Emancipation Daily. The author was the Chinese translator of Eugene O'Neill, a scholar of the Yenan Central Research Institute, for 16 years a member of the Communist Party. Wild Artichoke, recently smuggled out of Communist China, was written for a campaign of Communist selfcriticism, initiated by the head of the Chinese Communist Government, Mao Tse-tung.
Wrote Wang of life in Yenan:
Party bosses showed neither "love nor warmth" for the rank & file; in fact, they ignored the people's welfare, neglected even the sick "who cannot obtain a mouthful of soup." The people voiced their dissatisfaction in "hushed murmurs in the dark of night." There were "three classes of uniform and five classes of food. . . . As for those who advance the fact that distinction of rank exists in the Soviet Union as a legitimate reason for our present practice, well, excuse my bluntness, but I would advise those 'high priests' to shut their mouths."
Among the youths, once burning with zeal for the revolution, there was disillusionment. "Young students are given two meals of rice gruel a day. When asked whether they have eaten enough, they are required to reply with a prescribed model phrase: 'We are well-fed!'" Said Wang: "Such conditions cause uneasiness. ... I await comments."
They were not long in coming. Shortly after writing Wild Artichoke, Wang Shih-wei was expelled from the Anti-Japanese Writers League, was branded a Trotskyite, charged with undermining the Communist Party. Then he disappeared.
China's Sorrow. In the first year (1937-38) of the common resistance against Japan, there was an uneasy truce between Yenan and Chungking. But for the past six years an undeclared civil war has raged across North China. Each side has sought to conceal the full details of the bloody fratricide, for it does not make good reading in the chronicle of China's war effort. It has involved 15-day battles, upwards of 40,000 troops in a single action, systematic campaigns of extermination, terror and counterterror.