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Even more edifying is the case of 22-year-old Lei Feng, a squad leader in an army transport company stationed in Manchuria. In the bad old days, his father was buried alive by the Japanese, his two brothers starved to death, and his mother hanged herself after being raped by a landlord. In the good new days, Lei Feng was always helping old ladies across streets, buying railway tickets for mothers who had lost theirs, rushing out to do volunteer work on dikes and canals, and digging with his fingers when his shovel broke. Lei Feng died last year in an accident but, fortunately for the propagandists, left behind a 200,000-word diary filled with such sentiments as "I think my purpose in life is to work for a better life for others," and, "I am all for the Party, Socialism and Communism."
Hailed as the ideal Communist, Lei Feng is intended to be the model for Chinese youth who have trouble identifying with the grizzled veterans of the Long March and the Civil War. In the past year, at least 40 books have been written about Lei Feng, and 1,000 storytellers roam the villages enthralling illiterate peasants with his exploits and his love of Mao.
The regime's leadership set an example of Lei Feng-like solidarity last July after Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-ping failed in his effort in Moscow to end the Sino-Soviet split. When Teng returned to Peking, he was met at the airport by an unprecedented welcoming committee consisting of Mao Tse-tung and virtually every other top official not ill or on out-of-town assignment.
Collecting Coupons. If Lei Feng represents the mythical young Chinese, what is the reality like? One answer came last week from a U.S. turncoat, Belgian-born Albert Belhomme, a former G.I. who had defected to China after the Korean War. After ten years in China, Belhomme and two other U.S. defectors, Lowell Skinner and Scott Rush, became disillusioned and were allowed to leave the country.
Belhomme says the average wage at the paper factory in Tsinan where he was employed was about $18 a month. Single workers lived in dormitories with four bunks to a room, families in one-room apartments in blocks of brick flats. During lunch breaks at the factory, Belhomme recalls, workers "talked mostly about food, how to get food, and prices." When an office worker referred to the Communist cadres as "golden boys," his reward was a trip to a "labor-education camp," and then to jail. On his return, he was reemployed, but as a common laborer.
In China today, food is plentiful in