John McDonnell was on the Today programme this morning to defend his Mao “joke”, where he was condemned by Chinese author Diane Wei Liang, who was sent to a labour camp as a 3 year-old and forced to quote from the Little Red Book. McDonnell boldly claimed that he had spoken to Liang off air, and that she told him that she understood his ‘joke’:
“I just had a chat with that young lady – that lady – and she said ‘actually I understood the joke'”
Liang herself told Today that she absolutely did not understand it, and that as a labour camp victim she did not find it funny at all:
“Not I can understand perhaps because of my background. I grew up in China and to me it was not very funny and I rather think it’s not funny for the millions of people who died during Mao’s regime, nor for those who lived through those times.”
Who to believe? The Chinese Labour camp internee or John McDonnell?