China has had its Share of Hard Times

Normally I’d link instead of copying a whole post, but this comes from a blocked site, and we all know how annoying that is. So, with my apologies to Harry, I’ll rape the entire post from Chase me ladies, I’m in the cavalry . Not sure where he got the info.

The worst flood in history:
China, 1931; 3.7 million dead.

The second worst flood in history:
China, 1887; 900,000 dead.

The worst earthquake of the 20th century:
China, 1976; 242,000 dead.

The second worst earthquake of the 20th century:
China, 1927; 200,000 dead.

The worst earthquake in history:
China, 1556; 830,000 dead (est).

The worst famine in history:
China, 1959-61; 20 million dead.

The second worst famine in history:
China, 1876-79; 10 million dead.

The worst civil war in history (second worst war of any kind):
China, 1850-64; The Taiping Rebellion; 20-30 million dead.

China also lost more people in World War 2 (10.45 million) than Germany (5.5 million) and Japan (1.9 million) combined.

I’m not crazy about either history or politics, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s OK to completely ignore them. I’m not going to give any further commentary; I think the figures say enough.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Da Xiangchang Says: June 19, 2004 at 3:19 am

    These are incredibly grim statistics, but hopefully China’s past its most disastrous moments. With modern technology and that big dam, most of the deaths by flooding should be preventable. And with the death of communism, famines should no longer happen. (There’s a direct correlation between a country that flies a red flag and mass starvation.) The earthquake situation is still scary, but there’s nothing China can do about that until it gets richer and builds better buildings, then everything should be okay. (California was recently hit by an earthquake about the same magnitude as the one that killed 20,000 people in Iran–except in California, like 2 people died!)

    Still, some of the worst disasters happened in the Europe too. The Black Death wiped out like 1/3 of Europe’s population, and WWII killed like 20 million Russians (though, 1000 years from now, Russians can still be justifiably proud of their victory over the Nazis–unlike the wobbly kneed French who only became brave when American tanks rolled into Paris!). And the Holocaust remains, of course, one of the most insane action ever undertaken; 6 million of the smartest, most productive Europeans were wiped out!

    The greatest current disasters are probably in North Korea (another red-flag country) and Africa. Since that genocidal midget has nukes, nobody’s going to mess with N. Korea. Billions of dollars have already been given to Africa, but until Africans take responsibility for their own lives, I don’t see how that continent’s problems can ever be solved.

  2. Following that last link, I noticed the USSR lost 100 percent more lives in WWII than China. Incredible. That’s another country that’s had its share of misery, also, of course, under the red flag.

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  4. scary.

  5. Other than the entirely man-made famine of the Great Leap Forward, I don’t believe there is necessarily anything political about these figures.

    I think it is more a reflection on China’s huge population–for most of recorded history, China has had far and away the most people of any country on earth. If you run the numbers against its population figures, it puts China’s tragedies in a bit more perspective.

    Most of China’s dead in WWII are a direct result of the Japanese, particularly the ‘Three All Campaign’: “Kill All, Burn All, Loot All”.

    I would say Da Xiangchang is being a bit generalistic regarding his Russia/France comment.
    A major reason for the Russian ‘victory’ over the Germans is b/c the Germans were fighting a multifront war against two very formidable opponents. Of course, the Russians can say the same thing about the US victory.

    As far as disasters in the West, don’t leave out the great Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. It killed between 20-40 million people worldwide (primarily the West), 675K in the US alone. In fact, it was the flu that really ended WWI. To tie it back to China, like all influenza viruses, it originated there, probably in the south.

  6. Da Xiangchang Says: June 19, 2004 at 1:19 pm

    About my comments regarding the Russians and the French–I’m just saying there are people who behaved honorably in WWII, and then nationalities who acted like complete fucking cowards. Of course, the Russians didn’t beat the Nazis by themselves, but they didn’t buckle and give up like the French. Even before the Nazis got close to Paris, the French were waving the white flag. Yet even when large parts of London lay in ruins, the British never gave up. Winston Churchill even said to Parliament if the history of England’s going to end, it might as well be to the last man fighting–and his government cheered! Say that to the French, and they’d piss their pants. Of course, I wouldn’t be always trashing the French if they weren’t such ungrateful bastards. And from DeGaulle to Chirac, they’re all arrogant fuckers with no real power. The way the French act, you’d think we’re living in 1804 instead of 2004. Or like they saved America 3 times this past century instead of the other way around. God, how I despise the French! Even Paris is shitty–a second-rate city with sooty buildings and rattling subcompacts.

  7. I find it hard to believe such a post elicited such irrational, nutty rants against all things involving the French or red flags. Of the two events listed there that occured under Communist rule, one was an entirely natural disaster whose cause has absolutely nothing to do with the ruling party or the colour of the national flag. The large number of red stripes on the American flag could be pointed out, as could the large number of small-pox laden blankets distributed to indigenous peoples in the 19th century; not to mention slavery, segregation, and the only nuclear weapons used in war, need I go on…. Wow, maybe the presence of the colour red does have something to do with a nation’s human rights record!

  8. Haha, I am frequently highly amused by Da Xiangchang’s posts. (And in his defense, his tirade against the French has nothing to do with the events of the past two years; he has said before that he admires the French for standing up against the USA regarding the invasion of Iraq.)

    Chris, good points as well…

  9. The difference between the red flag and other flags is that in countries flying the red flags the government directly kills it’s own people, or indirectly kills them as a result of government policies that cause poverty and hold a nation back for 40 or 70 years.

  10. Da Xiangchang Says: June 19, 2004 at 2:40 pm


    Thanks for the compliment. However, I NEVER said I admired the French for “standing up” to America (it must’ve been someone else). And it’s PRECISELY their actions within the past two years that have pissed me off!

  11. Da Xaingchang,


    I could have sworn that was you. Oh well, never mind. Rant on.

  12. Sausage,

    your rants against the French lack any rationality, and are largely unfounded. To compare the French to the British is comparing sour apples to bitter oranges. Germany attacked France while the Nazi military machine was at the apex of its power. Unlike the UK, France was on the continent and therefore subject to Germany’s most powerful divisions of its military: its armor and infantry. The UK only had to face the Luftwaffe, and while formidable, air forces do not conquer countries; ground troops do.

    This was also at a time when neither the US or the USSR had entered the war, so France had to bear the entire brunt of Germany’s military alone. The UK never did, and it received aid and other materiel unavailable to France at the time due to strong isolationalism at the time by the US.

    You can hate the French all you want, though; it’s a free country, logic be damned. I prefer to consider that France is a democratic republic whose government expresses the will of its people; if they don’t always agree with us, that’s something mature people should be able to deal with. Also, if it wasn’t for France there wouldn’t be a US in the first place.

  13. I enjoyed French bashing back before it became popular after Iraq. Back then it was witty and light, now it is passe(a French word) and tinged with naked malice.

  14. Jing,

    I totally agree. Unlike Da Xiangchang, I do admire France for standing up for what it believes in and opposing the U.S. That makes mocking the French less fun.

  15. No problem, John. Take anything you like, I don’t mind. I got most of information from the lists at the back of the Hutchinson Dictionary of World History, and the stuff about the Taiping Rebellion from Flashman and the Dragon.

    What do you mean my site is banned? Have they banned all of Blogspot, or have I been singled out for some reason?

    When you get a minute can you put me in your list of China blogs? I¡¯ve tried a couple of times, but it doesn¡¯t like my email address. I¡¯ll send you the details.

  16. Da Xiangchang Says: June 20, 2004 at 2:34 am

    True, true, good old Lafayette and the French Navy. Still, America repaid its debt to France in WWI, but what about WWII and the Cold War?

    And how did France “stand up” to America? By wielding its Security Council veto. And how did it get this precious veto? By American power. Its other source of power is in the EU. But anyone who knows history knows the EU wouldn’t exist without past (and maybe even present) American military protection. After all, what do you think deterred the Soviets from western Europe–DeGaulle’s onion breath?! In real-power terms, France is nothing. Economically, it’s in shambles; militarily, it’s a joke. So its “real” power–the power it uses to “stand up” to America–was bestowed upon it by America. And they don’t want to admit this! What made their performance so pathetic these past two years wasn’t that they disagreed with the Iraq war–there are good reasons against it–but rather they were trying to act brave and relive their glory days. But everybody and his mother know the French are unprincipled cowards so who are they kidding?! In the next big disaster, they’ll be scrambling to America for help again. As they did in WWI, WWII, the Cold War . . .

    As for WWII, I don’t need to get into the details. But a few questions. 1) Why did Germany have the mighiest army in Europe when it LOST WWI? 2) Why didn’t the French behave like the Poles, another country in “continental Europe”? 3) Why didn’t France attack Germany when it was attacking Poland, instead of sitting on their asses and waiting for Germany to attack after the “phony-war” period? Come on–reread your WWII history!

  17. Scrambling to America for help again? America was late to both world wars. WW1: America finally joined in 1917, and I’ve heard that even hardened French generals were shocked at the sheer slaughter of dumbarse American GIs. WW2: It took Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbour to force America off its arse and into the war, which had already been raging for over 2 years in Europe. I’ve heard that the reason USAF bombers dropped their bombs several miles inland from their targets (the beachfront fortifications) on D-Day is because they were scared of hitting their own troops. Reminds me of a joke: When the Luftwaffe comes, the Allied soldiers take cover. When the RAF comes, the German soldiers take cover. When the USAF comes, everybody takes cover. Some help.

  18. Da Xiangchang Says: June 20, 2004 at 2:29 pm

    All I know is without America, your kiwi ass will be speaking Jap.

  19. Debatable, but it’s not like I’d notice the difference, anyway.

    My whole point was not to rubbish America. I mean only to point out that America is not the great saviour of the world so many Americans like to think. America has contributed a hell of a lot in certain areas, but in other areas has proved itself little better than the communists or the French you so despise.

    You seem to think the French are cowards. What kind of man has to hide behind really big bombs and the threat of overwhelming destructive force in order to make himself feel safe or to get his way in the world, and then spins a web of lies to try and justify his bully-boy tactics? A real man? A real coward.

  20. so nice to see that racism is alive and well in these “peaceful” “post-world-war” times! i just love the way france-bashing seems to have become the most popular prejudice to have these days. I also love the way that everybody focuses on the poor french for something that happened 60 years ago; while you’re at it, the germans started the whole thing, why not bash them?!

    In any case, if i was given the choice of living in the us or france, i know which one i’d go for – cowards or not, i still prefer their more tranquil and honest way of living to the usa’s fascination with the ‘who will we bomb this week’ game.

  21. French bashing by Americans (and American bashing by the French) is as stupid and blindly nationalist as it gets. Both sides were motivated by economic desires, pure and simple. The US wanted to make money with new deals in Iraq, the French wanted to continue making money with the deals they already had in place. Greed is greed is greed is greed. The United States simply had the means to make their greed happen, and France didn’t have the means (or the desire to implement the means) to stop it. Such is life.

    While I agree with Chris that the United States is not the savior of the world that we’re taught it is in elementary school, he makes some pretty asinine points as well. “What kind of man has to hide behind really big bombs and the threat of overwhelming destructive force in order to make himself feel safe or to get his way in the world”? Give me a fucking break. Every man since the beginning of time, that’s what kind of man! There has been a constant quest for protection from external enemies through force of arms from the beginning, and weapons of mass destruction delivered by long-range missiles is just the latest incarnation (and certainly not the last) of this. New Zealand, which knows that it is safely behind an umbrella of US naval strength should anything threaten them, is a serious benefactor of this desire for protection.

    Though, as those of you who know me in person know, I’m very liberal and am totally anti-Iraq war, it still bothers me to no end that the citizens of American allies have the gaul to now, after the end of the Cold War, bash the US for being so strong. For forty years we spent trillions of dollars preparing to defend our allies from the Soviet threat, and in doing so prevented the threat from ever manifesting, while our allies were freed to spend much of their money on social systems and such, and now those same allies scoff at our large military. It’s rather infuriating, and certainly provides ammunition for those who believe we should just pull back and tell the rest of the world to fuck itself.

    I don’t agree with those people, but I see where they’re coming from.

    (OK, how did this thread get here from a post about mostly natural disasters??)

  22. John B, you make some fair comments about my insane ranting, so allow me to explain.

    I don’t bash America for its strength. I bash America for the way its strength is used. America’s (late) entry into World War 2 is an example of its strength being used for good. The Iraq war is an example of its strength being used to seize control of the world’s oil supplies and intimidate us non-Americans into blind obedience to the imperial power. The Iraq war leads me to think strange things about the psychological health of the Bush administration- what are they compensating for by picking fights with people smaller and weaker than them? I think Bush is a bigger coward than Chirac Schroeder and NZ’s own Helen Clark combined.

    As for that shield provided to NZ by the US Navy, well, in World War 2 certainly. But I said that America saving us Kiwis from having to learn Japanese was debatable because the fact that Japan never made it past the Solomon Islands has as much to do with China’s stubborn refusal to accept Japanese occupation as it does with Midway and the Coral Sea. Not to mention the Aussie soldiers who fought back the Japanese on the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea and the help America had from New Zealand on Guadalcanal (my grandfather was there). But since World War 2? Who was America protecting us from? America, as much as anyone else. It was MAD that stopped the cold war from deteriorating, not any particular military force. And our anti-nuclear law passed in the mid-80s put an end to our alliance with America- ask the Pentagon, we are only a ‘friend’, not an ally.

    I apologise for coming across as rabidly, irrationally anti-American. That is not the point I was trying to make. My intention was merely to point out that America is no better or worse than any other country on this planet.

    Anyway, I also don’t know how this thread got here, even though I’m one of those responsible. Sorry. I just got pissed off with the politicisation of those stats, especially with the commie-bashing, French-hating, America is the world’s saviour flavour of certain comments. I shall now stop. We’ve taken up too much space.

  23. Da Xiangchang Says: June 21, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    Some people will not face facts so I shall leave you with 2 thoughts:

    1. The VAST majority of anti-American sentiment can be traced to two motivations: the JEALOUSY and INSECURITY of other nations. People, in general, are prideful and jealous bitches–and cannot stomach the fact that they couldn’t save themselves. After all, no matter what country you’re from, chances are America saved it from some great evil, whether Nazism, communism, Japanese imperialism, or (currently) Islamic fundamentalism. History is going to vindicate America’s involvement in Iraq when it turns into a functioning if not perfect democracy and sets an example for the rest of the Middle East–which is the MAIN goal of the Bush administration. After all, people laughed at Reagan too, but history now admits that he, more than any other man, destroyed the Soviet Union and communism.

    2. George W. Bush will win in a minor landslide in November. In fact, let me give you roughly what the final electoral-college count will be: Bush 300, Kerry 238, Nader 0. Anyone who disagrees, put up your own prediction. Come November, you’ll see how right I am, and how wrong you are.

  24. Da Xiangchang, how old are you? To know all your ‘facts’ you have to be all-knowing. You’re no god, mate. I see lots of sophism in your comments. Sophism and reasoning don’t mix. Just like bushism and reasoning.

  25. On war causulties, I think that the civilian casulties alone in Russia reaced 21 million.

    Da Xiangchang

    While you may be right in some cases, your way off on others, my anti American sentiment does not come from Jelousy or insecurity. I come from a developped country with a few thousand years more history than America and a good few million less enemies. Yet America keeps telling us that we owe it and that because something suits America it must also suit us.

    America has a very big problem which is that they answer every critisism with “Because we are America”.

    Cold war over, www2 long gone, civil war, well we weren’t even involved. America can’t seem to understand that it doesn’t rule the world and the world doesn’t need saving any more. The Use is more of a danger than al of the lunitics outside Washington are.

    I have one word that can explain most Anti-America feelings PROVOCATION.

  26. On the subject of “French bashing by Americans (and American bashing by the French)” – John B above. The real shame is the Americans and French don’t get bashed enough, particularly by their own inhabitants. I’m thinking about the, post WWII, Vietnam and Algerian wars. The Americans killed about 1,000,000 people, the French killed about 1,000,000 people in two completely stupid, pointless, largely forgotten wars. My point is the stupidity and arrogance, and the potential for evil of both Americans and French is vast, and I challenge anyone to convince me I’m wrong

  27. On the subject of “French bashing by Americans (and American bashing by the French)” – John B above. The real shame is the Americans and French don’t get bashed enough, particularly by their own inhabitants. I’m thinking about the, post WWII, Vietnam and Algerian wars. The Americans killed about 1,000,000 people, the French killed about 1,000,000 people in two completely stupid, pointless, largely forgotten wars. My point is the stupidity and arrogance, and the potential for evil of both Americans and French is vast, and I challenge anyone to convince me I’m wrong

  28. Eoghan, you seem to be forgetting that more than 1,000,000 French settlers had been living in Algeria after more than 100 years of colonization.

    Tell the Americans they have to go back to Ireland, England and Germany leaving North America to the American natives, and you’ll see them fighting to stay.

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