China's Vice President lived in a cave for 7 years, eating gruel


43 Responses to “China's Vice President lived in a cave for 7 years, eating gruel”

  1. steveportigal says:

    He should be all set then for the Embassy Suites.

  2. Kevin Wu says:


  3. J says:

    I would not doubt this to be true.  My wife grew up under Mao and after finishing school went to work on a chicken farm for 3 years.  This was not paid labour.  In fact, her Father had to pay so that she could leave, room and board costing more than any wages she would have theoretically earned. 
    She was an educated Beijing City girl with both parents having government jobs, and went on to get a degree in Engineering.   My understanding it that this was very common for at least one child per family (no one child policy back then) to do their duty for the country.

    • petronius says:

      They were not people doing their duty to their country, they were slaves being held hostage during a titanic political struggle within the Communist Party. Think gulag prisoners, not community service.

      • J says:

        Slaves much in the way that Israeli citizens must be slaves for the 3 years they are forced into military duty? 

        How is 3 years of forced duty not slavery when used to oppress a population but slavery when used to farm chickens?

        • AlexG55 says:

          Israeli (and other countries’) conscripts are paid rather than being forced into debt bondage for one thing…

          • danarmak says:

            Israeli conscripts are paid 400-500 sheqels/month, roughly 100-130 USD. (Upped to maybe double that for actual fighting troops, who are a minority.) This is known colloquially as “pocket money” pay.

            Meanwhile we still had to pay rent and for breakfast and dinner – or rather our parents had to pay for us. The minimal legal wage for a full-time job, btw, is more than 4000 sheqels (1000 USD).

        • Guest says:

          in Maoist China, community takes ownership of you!

  4. Andy Jukes says:

    Surely “humble beginnings” does not begin to describe the internal exile at hard labor that he endured for being on the right side of history, at least up to this point.

  5. Comatose51 says:

    A good article on what happened during that period:


  6. Cody Sterzer says:

    Actually, this is pretty much the standard fare for many in the Party. Deng Xiaoping was sent to work building tractors for four years in Jiangxi as part of his “re-education” until Mao’s death. I can only imagine the look on his face when the Party leadership showed up at the factory, asking him to lead the country. 

  7. benher says:

    Well, I’m sure we’ll all feel better knowing that someone in a place of leadership in the People’s ‘Pub has come from such humble beginnings – and shall certainly keep the proletariat’s best interests in mind. 

    Like Lincoln in a log cabin… Really, I’m tearing up. 

  8. Jim Saul says:

    And there he worked until one day he was granted three wishes by the magical weaving girl, whom he helped see her true love the cowherd on the other side of the starry night sky…

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      That’s funny. There was an article a few months ago about government PR wonks spending days setting up a spontaneous TV interview with a farmer in rural China.

  9. What influence did that experience have on his current policy decisions?

  10. sean says:

    Well, I hope he brings his OWN bucket with him and doesn’t try to use any of our good American buckets. 

  11. sean says:

    I guess he could buy a Chinese-made bucket at Walmart but I hope he takes it home with him.

  12. How I wish that being unfairly imprisoned and cruelly treated would reliably make one into a politician who abhors such policies.  Sadly, as even John McCain showed us, the opposite is true all too often.

    I suspect there’s some kind of “I survived it and my life turned out ok” effect going on there.  Or maybe it’s just “People were dicks to me, so it’s only fair that I get to be a dick to other people”.

  13. sean says:

    Ah, big deal. We have hundreds of politicians here that are STILL living in caves. And they use the halls of congress to do their business instead of buckets.

  14. Guido says:

    Heh. So China is more mobile socially than the US.

  15. I dunno, the thing with the quilt on bricks doesn’t sound so bad. What can I say, most beds just feel too soft.

    • Guest says:

      . . . A thin quilt spread on bricks was his bed, a bucket was his toilet. Dinners were a porridge of millet and raw grain.

      If the bed were any thicker, it would be a spa experience.  

  16. Lobster says:

    Communism, am I right?

  17. Jonathan Roberts says:

    “China’s Vice President lived in a cave for seven years”
    You say that like it’s a bad thing – one of my secret dreams has always been to be a troglodite. Thanks to the negative image of cave-dwellers,  possibly the coolest school in the world (that’s even been featured on BB) was closed down last year. 

  18. Ipo says:

    Damn!  Poor fellow had it almost as bad as Romney in Paris.  

  19. OohErMissus says:

    Is it me, or do I get the feeling that with factoids like this, the Chinese Politburo meetings often sound like the Chinese rendition of Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ skit?

    “I slept on a thin quilt spread on bricks, and had a bucket for a toilet. Dinners were a porridge of millet and raw grain.”


  20. A cave, for seven years! You were lucky to have a cave. We used to live in…

  21. BongBong says:

    And did he evolve to see in the dark as a result?

  22. juepucta says:

    HE studied in the US. An all around nice fellow, according to his host family. NPR did a thing about the visit the other day. He is squeezing in a quick visit to the host family, 25+ yrs later, as part of the itinerary.

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