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How Much Did Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin Get Paid for Their Publications?

Chinese Communist leaders’ works have long been regarded as
scripture by Party members, but are also personal cash cows taking a
bite out of taxpayers’ money.

Officially, the People’s Republic of China is an atheist country. From a different perspective, however, it appears to be a country where religion and government are one. China’s leaders are not only political leaders; they are also spiritual leaders. In Christianity, the supreme authority is God. In Islam, the top authority is Allah. In the Chinese government, the highest authorities are Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Zemin. The Christians have the Bible, the Muslims have the Koran, but in China, Chairman Mao’s Quotations, Selected Works of Mao Zedong, Selected Articles of Deng Xiaoping, and various publications of Jiang Zemin’s speeches have attained the status of China’s "Bible." There is a difference, though: the Bible and the Koran are like Lunyu (Confucius’ teachings). No matter how many copies were published, Jesus, Mohammed and Confucius never made a penny from their books. Yet Mao, Deng and Jiang made a fortune from all of the publications that bear their names. And the Chinese government has paid for the bills.

According to independent research, during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), China published 870 editions of Selected Works of Mao Zedong (Volume 1-4). The total published was 325 million paperbacks and 2.55 million hard covers. China also published the same book in 14 foreign different languages, including English and French for a total volume of 1.22 million. Over 500 million copies of another book, Selected Articles of Mao Zedong, were printed, for a total volume of 252.5 million. In addition, China also published many single-article books from Mao Zedong. There are over 6,000 editions. The total volume reached the astronomical figure of 2.886 billion!

The largest number of volumes so far is Chairman Mao’s Quotations. In the second half of 1966, in China, 200 to 300 printing factories printed this book. Most provinces printed enough books for the entire population, one per person. In October 1966, the Central Propaganda Ministry approved the export of Chairman Mao’s Quotations. By May of 1967, in only eight months, China International Book Trading Corporation exported over 800,000 copies to 117 countries and regions in 14 languages. Some researchers calculated that during the Cultural Revolution, the total volume of Chairman Mao’s Quotations published in China and abroad was over 5 billion. There are 500 editions in over 50 languages. The book was arguably the world’s "most popular book in the 20th century."

As for Deng Xiaoping’s books, according to the data in 1993, up until the end of 1992, China had published 56 of Deng’s works, totaling over 100 million copies. For Jiang Zemin, according to research, his book On the Three Representations "sold" more than 100 million copies. Each member of the 68 million Communist Party members has at least one copy. All the government employees, including teachers and doctors also have the book. There is no accurate number to indicate exactly how many books he had published during his 13 years in power.
Such an astronomical number of copies represents a huge profit. According to reliable statistics, by the end of May 2001, Mao Zedong’s work had generated 131 million yuan (US$16 million). Deng Xiaoping’s publication Selected Articles of Deng Xiaoping (Volume 1,2,3) in 1993 had a price tag of 35.4 yuan (US$4.4). Assuming the remuneration was 15 percent and the volume was 50 million (each Party member has one), the one-time income was 265 million yuan (US$33 million). Also an independent researcher estimated that Jiang Zemin made a huge profit. His book On the Three Representations sells at 12 yuan per copy. With 80 million copies, at 15 percent of payment, his estimated profit is 144 million yuan (US$18 million). We should point out that it is primarily the government that buys Deng’s and Jiang’s books.

Consider the following. Mao met with President Nixon, Deng met with Prime Minister Thatcher, and Jiang Zemin met with President Clinton. They are all country leaders. But has the U.S. government ever published any of Nixon’s quotations? Has the U.K. government ever published any of Mrs. Thatcher’s works? Has the U.S. government ever published any of Clinton’s articles? How much profit did Nixon, Thatcher, and Clinton make from government spending on their books? China’s social system is so-called Socialism, but with a Chinese flavor. It has a strong Chinese flavor indeed.


Jiao Guobiao was an associate professor of journalism in Beijing University. His article "Declaration of the Campaign against The Central Propaganda Department" criticizes that the Central Propaganda Department is the largest and most powerful protective umbrella for the forces of evil and corruption in China. The article was well-liked by Chinese people but angered the authorities. He was later dismissed from his post by the university.