(2009年6月5日，游客在中共一大会址纪念馆内参观。新华社记者 刘颖 摄)
编译自：TORONTOSTAR Asia Bureau 记者：Bill SCHILLER
The man who could have been Mao
Chang Kuo-tao, buried in a Toronto grave, was a party founding father who ended up in exile
Published On Sat Sep 26 2009
By Bill Schiller
(Chang Kuo-tao, in 1974 in Toronto, where, in his only interview, he stated： “I have washed my hands of politics.”)
It is simple, unadorned and apparently abandoned: a tombstone tucked between two shrubs in Pine Hills Cemetery in east Toronto.
But beneath this ground in section 5, plot 2263 lie the remains of a man who might have changed history.
His name is Chang Kuo-tao. He died in a Toronto nursing home in December 1979.
Unknown to most Canadians, he was once a towering political and military figure in China.
Today, some think of him as the man who might have been Mao Zedong, or more precisely: the only man who could have eclipsed Mao on his long march to power to become leader of China.
But Mao used cunning and treachery to break and banish him, according to two respected historians.
After years of living in exile in Hong Kong, Chang found his way to Canada in 1968 where he lived peacefully for the last 11 years of his life.
Yet despite the best efforts of China’s propaganda system, which relegated him to the nation’s dustbin of traitors, Chang’s legacy lives on.
As 1.3 billion Chinese prepare to celebrate their 60th anniversary as the People’s Republic next week – a celebration set to sing the glories of the ruling Communist party – the Chinese owe a debt to Chang Kuo-tao.
He was a founding father of the Communist Party of China.
He was “Chairman Chang.” He acted as the party’s top official at its first congress in Shanghai in 1921.
He was that important.
Yet no plaque commemorates Chang’s place in history in the graveyard at the corner of Birchmount Rd. and St. Clair Ave. E.
Chang might have wanted it that way. In 1974 – in the only interview he ever granted – he told a Canadian Press reporter, “I have washed my hands of politics.”
Few know he’s buried there.
His life-long wife, Young Tze Li, who died in 1994, is buried beside him.
Today, his Toronto family – two sons who preceded him to Canada, as well as his grandchildren – has receded from view.
“No one has been able to locate them,” says Kwong-Huen Choh, a retired professor of history living near Toronto who knew both Chang and his wife. But whether by accident or poetic design, Chang’s tombstone faces southeast – towards his birthplace in Pingxiang, in southern China, where his story begins.
It was from there, in the early years of the 20th century, that Chang travelled to Beijing to earn a degree at Peking University, where Mao was a lowly clerk working in the university library. It isn’t known whether the two met there.
Chang was a prominent student leader in the May 4 movement of 1919 – the famed Chinese students’ movement that sowed the early seeds of revolution – and eventually led strikes of rail and textile workers.
But it wasn’t until the 1930s, when Chang built one of the most powerful armies in China, that he emerged as the biggest threat to Mao, who had by then ascended party ranks.
Still, some believed Chang, not Mao, might lead the Communists to victory in the country’s bloody civil war and potentially usher in the new, liberated nation that was founded 60 years ago next week.
“He had solid credentials to be the leader of the Communist Party of China,” historians Jon Halliday and Jung Chang write in their 2005 bestseller, Mao: The Unknown Story.
“He was a hugely successful military commander,” says Halliday from London, “and an absolutely brilliant general – and he was just as tough as Mao.”
That would ultimately prove to be his undoing, says Halliday’s co-author and spouse Jung Chang, who says Mao had come to perceive Chang as, “his biggest threat to power.”
“Chang Kuo-tao was prepared to kill for power,” says Jung. “Mao felt that he had met someone very much like himself. As a consequence, Mao felt he absolutely had to get rid of Chang Kuo-tao.”
And so he did.
When Mao was done, he never faced a real challenger again.
Mao had strong motivation to undermine Chang: when the two met up to join forces during the Long March – the legendary Communist retreat to safety from Nationalist forces in the 1930s – Chang Kuo-tao was daunting, with an army of 80,000 soldiers.
Mao had just 10,000.
Chang welcomed Mao to their meeting point in Sichuan province much like a host would welcome a guest.
Mao knew that if he wanted to secure ultimate power and link up with their Russian sponsors ahead of Chang – winning their endorsement – he had to diminish, delay and ultimately destroy Chang’s Red Army.
“The destruction of Chang Kuo-tao militarily was critical to Mao to monopolize the Moscow connection,” says Halliday.
Mao succeeded by putting himself in a political position where he could “methodically sabotage” Chang Kuo-tao’s army at its every turn, the authors write in their meticulously researched book that took a decade to produce.
Mao schemed to ensure Chang’s forces always faced the toughest terrains and most brutal battles, says Jung – and, it seems, even attacked Chang Kuo-tao’s troops head on. Russian archives released in 2005 note that Mao once privately boasted to an envoy of Soviet strongman Josef Stalin that his forces had wiped out 30,000 of Chang’s soldiers.
“That was a stunning revelation,” says Halliday.
In the end Mao prevailed. His envoy made it to Moscow where Pravda then proclaimed Mao as the “new leader of the Chinese people.”
Chang would hang on, but finally fled to the opposition Nationalists in 1938, seeking refuge later in the British colony of Hong Kong.
“He wasn’t as shrewd as Mao politically,” Halliday observes. “In the end he allowed himself to be outfoxed by him.”
Had Chang won power, Chinese history might have been different, says Halliday.
Calamities that scarred China under Mao, might have been avoided.
“I don’t think Chang Kuo-tao would have launched anything like the Cultural Revolution,” he says, referring to the violent and chaotic decade from 1966 until 1976 during which Mao encouraged Chinese youth to overturn and destroy almost everything that was precious and traditional in Chinese society.
“Nor do I think he would have presided over the great famine either.”
The Chinese famine of the late 1950s, the greatest in recorded history, claimed as many as 38 million lives as Mao’s cadres worked starving Chinese peasants to death.
“That required a certain heartlessness,” says Halliday.
His and Jung’s book notes that Chang carried out his own bloody purges at the peak of his military career. But neither believes he was capable of monumental devastation on the Mao scale.
Once Chang defected, party propagandists spread the story – real or imagined – that Chang had plotted to sabotage and kill Mao.
True or not, in some circles it stuck. In Shanghai, at the museum of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Chang’s seminal role in party history is recognized – but dismissed. He is branded a traitor, expelled for having “engaged in the activities of splitting the party and the Red Army during the Long March …”
Mao, on the other hand, shines.
In a recreation of the historic 1921 meeting dramatized by stolid life-size figures, Mao holds forth with a beatific glow, as the central figure standing at a rustic table, addressing the upturned faces of 12 Chinese apostles and two agents from Communist International.
Chang is not at the table; he is in fact outside the circle and the only figure with his arms folded defiantly as Mao speaks.
But even the museum guards don’t buy the propaganda.
“If it were based on historical fact Chang Kuo-tao should be in the centre,” one says, at a recent afternoon visit. “But that wouldn’t have been approved. With Mao at the centre though, it was approved.
“Later Chang became a traitor, so you really couldn’t put him in that position.”
Says another, “It’s the victors who get to write history.”
But outside the museum visitor Li Xiao Fang, an architectural engineer, isn’t sold on the fact that Chang was a traitor.
“We don’t really consider him as such … we just think he thought differently,” she says.
“We don’t only believe what the textbooks taught us. Today, we think more rationally. This was an inner-party struggle.”
She’s surprised to learn that Chang is buried in Canada.
“We just thought he died.”
But Chang lived on.
And in Hong Kong he began to write his memoirs.
American-born writer Robert Elegant, 81 and now living in Italy, remembers the period vividly.
Elegant was part of a small group of people helping Chang with an English translation of his memoirs in the early 1950s.
“I remember we had a large living room in a house that no longer exists on Stubbs Rd. on the way to The Peak and the entire living room floor was covered with different chapters of it. I’ll always remember that picture …” Elegant says in a telephone interview.
“I really didn’t know at the time what a major figure he was.
“But I had a great deal of respect and affection for him … He was an impressive figure, a man of substance and dignity.”
Elegant recounts how Chang told him with “glee” how he and his compatriots managed to shut out the Moscow representatives of Communist International from the final day of the 1921 meetings.
“He was quite proud that the party was going to be Chinese and nothing else.”
In the end however, Elegant says Mao deceived Chang in their 1930s confrontation.
“He was flimflammed,” he says.
“Mao was such a cunning and treacherous man. And Chang wasn’t given to treachery.”
In a forward to an edition of her husband’s memoirs, wife Young Tze Li wrote that her husband had finally decided to swear off war and was content to live in near-poverty in Hong Kong – but at peace.
“In his own words, ‘My radical thinking and my patriotic enthusiasm are the same as ever. But I wish to keep my distance from autocratic regimes.’ ”
“‘I used to be an actor on the stage of China. Now I’m only a member of the audience, and I hope to see as few tragedies as possible.’ ”
But the tragedies did come.
In November 1968, Chang and his wife left Hong Kong for Toronto, to be reunited with their two sons who had preceded them. Later he suffered several strokes and died on Dec. 3, 1979. He was 82.
“In an earlier time, he certainly carried out bloody purges,” remarks author Jung Chang.
“But he also showed repentance and even converted to Christianity at the end of his life – a sign, I think, that he was trying to come to terms with his past.”