Jung Chang

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Jung Chang in 2010

Jung Chang (born March 25, 1952) is a Chinese-born British writer.


  • I had always wanted to be a writer as a child but couldn’t spell out this dream to myself because during the Cultural Revolution all writers were condemned. To be a writer was the most dangerous profession. I wrote my first poem aged 16 and destroyed it.
  • Wild Swans shows how life was different for each of the women – my grandmother, my mother, me. This book is also about very different lives, but because of political beliefs not generations. Big Sister [Soong Ai-ling] and Little Sister [Soong Mei-ling] were passionately anti-communist, whereas Red Sister [Soong Ching-ling] supported Mao. To start with, I didn’t want to write about the sisters; they were like fairytale [characters]. But while I was doing research, I realised how extraordinary they were, with all their mental agonies, moral dilemmas and heartbreaks.
  • The thing is, the regime makes it very hard for people to be interested. If you are dedicated to finding out the truth, you can. There are ways to climb the firewall. You can buy banned books in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It is more… It is the risk associated with it that puts people off wanting to think about it.
  • There’s no sense of heritage. Mao destroyed the culture and produced a generation of philistines who do not appreciate culture. Now, people are money-mad and property is the thing that makes money. The regime made a positive decision to channel people’s energy into money-making so they won’t be interested in politics.
  • A large part. Woman rulers were always subject to condemnation. She never ruled in her own right and always had to be behind a screen. She ruled while the Emperor was a child but when the Emperor grew up she had to retire and go back to the Harem and the Emperor took over. It’s not immediately obvious which edicts came from her and which imperial decrees or ideas came from the Emperor so there is a prejudice but also a practical problem.

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