During the Cultural Revolution
Return to Xinjiang
In May 1972 I returned to Xinjiang. Mao had made an error in thinking that the Revolution would only need half a year, having totally lost control of the country when the rebellion escalated far beyond his expectations. Six years after I had left with my baby son, my wife - who had chosen not to return to Shanghai with me - was still working in Xinjiang in one of the hospitals I had worked in. She had written a few letters asking me to come back to Xinjiang. Also, I asked some good friends of mine in Shanghai to advise me, and eventually I decided to return to Xinjiang.
The day after I got there, the director of the PLA propaganda team, together with the director of the Workers' propaganda team and the interim leader of the hospital came to visit me and asked me to go to the hospital to discuss something. This was a time in which having justice on your side meant nothing. If they wanted to put you in jail or hurt you, they did not need any reason. They had unrestricted power and I knew I had no choice but to go.
When I arrived, the room that used to be my office had been turned into an interrogation room. I had, to sit while they stood and interrogated me:
"Why did you go back to Shanghai for years and not come back?"
"What were you doing in Shanghai?"
Stupid questions. Of the three of men, none had had any education. The soldier and the worker had only finished primary school studies. The interim leader of the hospital was illiterate. It was a policy of Mao's to use those without knowledge above educated people. All highly trained doctors had to become ordinary workers and repair the hospital walls; their skills were completely wasted.
At that time there were three people with control of the hospital, none of whom were qualified for such work. As well one of those who had interrogated me, there was a worker from a nearby factory and a 17-year-old soldier from SanDon province.
When I came to the hospital, the cook and the 'workers of Mao ZheDong's thought' seemed to have been won over. They thought if they could find me at fault in some way, I would be sent to prison and they would get to keep their new position in the hospital - but they could not find fault.
A few days later, I was in my kitchen. It was 10 o'clock in the evening in the middle of July. I took some water to drink - and choked on it with surprise. Because the weather was so hot, I had left the door open. The man from 'workers of Mao Zhedong's thought' walked into my home and said "Shen Hongxun, let's go to the hospital and help them repair the wall." In this area, no-one called me Shen Hongxun, even a city director. A few years ago this man's child was sick, and he had asked my wife and me to help. He used to call me 'doctor' then, but today now that he had a little power over me, he was not so polite. I felt some emotion, but since at that time my position had changed, I just had to calm down. I said "OK! When I have finished this water, I will come."
He said "No, you must come now - or I will whip you." This made me angry and I said, "I do not want to go today." I went to my bedroom and sat down in a chair that happened to be just between the door and a desk. The door was opposite the door that went from the kitchen out of the house.
The worker followed me to my room. He tried to pull me up by my arms saying, "Let's go!" and using all his power to pull me.
I really did not want any political problems, and did not intend to use force, but because of my long habit of practicing Taijiquan, I automatically pulled back my arms and again relaxed the arms, but he used too much power, so the force was sent back to him. Suddenly the man became like an arrow - he flew backwards through both doors and landed on the firewood in my garden, 10 meters away.
I thought people would come for me and try to put me in jail as part of their political game. (In normal circumstances this would never happen, because I was fully dedicated to my work and had special techniques to treat that other colleagues did not have, people really liked me.) I lost my temper. I jumped behind him to beat him up, but just in time I gained control of my emotions, and instead ran off to the City office.
On the way, four men started to chase me. Two of them were trainee students in the hospital, whom I never met before, and one was a doctor who was one of my best friends. It was night with only the stars to give some light. I was running across a wet field when I tripped over a tree-root and fell. The four pursuers took their chance and grabbed me, each taking one limb. I used taijijin (taiji forces) closing my arms, two people collided with their heads against each other, the doctor's glasses causing the other one to bleed in the face. This one cried out loud: 'You slapped a member of the workers of Mao ZheDong's thought propaganda team! Come with us to the City'. As he was hurt he now thought he had me in his power and they left me.