The Mao Era in Objects

Hong Haitang: The course of the threefold murder committed by Hong Haitang, according to an investigation by the Central Institute of Political Science and Law (洪海棠:根据中央政法学院调查洪海棠枪杀三条人命的经过)

'Hong Haitang' starts with Li Gang from Beijing who is puzzled at the extremely mild verdict (2 years of probation) that Hong Haitang received for murder. Hong then tells us what preceded this verdict:

Before the Mao Era, Hong Haitang was born into a poor family – and then given as a gift to a guy who took a liking in her and who appeared to trade in pearls. He takes her on as his only daughter, provides her with an education, including reading, writing, martial arts, dancing etc. When she is a teenager, she learns that his trade is stealing pearls and she joins the trade, together with her fellow students Sun Kun and Zhao Er. Soon after, her 'father' decides to retire and she inherits the business and his wealth.

A few years later she marries Shen Kun. Working on a 'case', however, Shen falls in love with their victim’s wife and together with Zhao Er and the wife escapes to America. There, Zhao Er murders the two and decides to also murder Hong Haitang, so he returns to China. She has just given birth to a baby, and cannot escape the police; having shot some of the police officers, she is imprisoned and released in 1949. Grateful for the changes coming about with the new times, Hong Haitang decides not to continue her 'trade'. After her release, she accidentally saves the life of Zhou Liang – Zhao Er wanted to have him killed as he opposed a marriage between Zhou and his 'daughter' Hong Meigui. Unsurprisingly, it turns out, that Hong Meigui is really Hong Haitang’s daughter. Having sworn revenge, Hong Haitang and an accomplice now sets out to get back her daughter (so that the next day the two young people can marry) and then kill Zhao Er soon after. After the completion of this mission, she turns herself in to the police, confesses everything and therefore only receives mild punishment.