1949–1976, The Mao Era
Geography - Politics - Education
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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (simplified Chinese: 无产阶级文化大革命; traditional Chinese: 無產階級文化大革命; pinyin: Wúchǎn Jiējí Wénhuà Dà Gémìng; literally "Proletarian Cultural Great Revolution"; or simply the Cultural Revolution; abbreviated in Chinese as 文化大革命 or 文革) was a period of widespread social and political upheaval in the People’s Republic of China between 1966 and 1976, resulting in nation-wide chaos and economic disarray.
It was launched by Mao Zedong, the chairman of the Communist Party of China, on May 16, 1966; he alleged that "liberal bourgeois" elements were permeating the party and society at large and that they wanted to restore capitalism. Mao insisted that these elements should be removed through post-revolutionary class struggle by mobilizing the thoughts and actions of China's youth, who formed Red Guard groups around the country.
The movement subsequently spread into the military, urban workers, and the party leadership itself. Although Mao himself officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, the power struggles and political instability between 1969 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 are now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution.
After Mao's death in 1976, forces within the party that were antagonistic to the Cultural Revolution, led by Deng Xiaoping, gained prominence. The political, economic, and educational reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were largely terminated by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since. The people involved in instituting the policies of the Cultural Revolution were persecuted. In its official historical judgment of the Cultural Revolution in 1981, the Party assigned chief responsibility to Mao Zedong, but also laid significant blame on Lin Biao and the Gang of Four for causing its worst excesses.
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Prior to the Cultural Revolution, most of the intimidation tactics were already established from the earlier Yan'an Rectification Movement (Chinese: 延安整风运动). The political changes after the 1949 Communist takeover also resulted in sweeping social changes, particularly the labeling of much of the former ruling class and intelligentsia as rightists and “revisionists,” “black elements”, or “black gang elements.” Their houses were confiscated, and any items that did not conform to Mao’s values were smashed. Hardly any family with a problematic record against the system could escape the turmoil.
In the initial preparation, the “Central Press and Broadcasting Bureau” was the driver in pushing all schools, army units, and public organizations at all levels to install public loudspeakers and radio receivers. The Central People’s Broadcasting Station was the main instrument established as part of the “Politics on Demand” concept. By the 1960s, over 70 million speakers would reach the rural population of 400 million.
In 1958, after China’s first Five-Year Plan, Mao Zedong called for an increase in the speed of the growth of “actual socialism” in China (as opposed to “dictatorial socialism”), as the first step in making the country into a self-sufficient Communist society. To accomplish this goal, Mao began the Great Leap Forward, establishing special communes (Cultural nexuses of power) in the countryside through the usage of collective labour and mass mobilization. The Great Leap Forward was intended to increase the production of steel and to raise agricultural production to twice 1957 levels.
However, industries went into turmoil because peasants were producing too much low-quality steel while other areas were neglected. Furthermore, unschooled low-income farmers were poorly equipped and ill-trained to produce steel, partially relying on backyard furnaces to achieve the production targets set by local cadres.
Meanwhile, essential farm tools were being melted down for steel, thus cutting harvest sizes. This led to a decline in the production of most goods except substandard pig iron and steel. To make matters worse, in order to avoid punishment local authorities frequently reported grossly unrealistic production numbers, hiding and intensifying the problem for several years.
Having barely recovered from decades of war, the Chinese economy was again in shambles. Steel production did show significant growth, to over 14 million tons of steel a year, up from 5.2 million. The original goal was to produce a wildly optimistic 30 million tons of steel, later downsized to 20 million. However, much of the steel produced was impure and useless. In the meantime, chaos in the collectives, bad weather, and exports of food necessary to secure hard currencies resulted in widespread famine. According to various sources, the death toll due to famine was as high as 30 million.
In the 1959 Lushan meeting of the Central Committee (庐山会议), Marshal Peng Dehuai criticized Mao’s policies on the Great Leap in a private letter. Peng wrote that the Great Leap was plagued by mismanagement and “petty-bourgeois fanaticism.” Mao refused to acknowledge he was making a great mistake and insisted on unconditional obedience to his Great Leap policy. Although Mao made repeated self-criticisms in speeches for the Great Leap Forward and called for the dismantling of the communes in 1959, he insisted that the Great Leap was 70% correct overall. Peng Dehuai was crushed as Mao reinvented the repressive anti-rightist policies of the past.
Also in 1959, Mao resigned as chairman of the PRC, and the government was then run by Liu Shaoqi, Premier Zhou Enlai and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Deng Xiaoping. Mao remained Chairman of the Party. Politically, Mao formed an alliance with Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, in which he granted them day-to-day control over the country, in return for framing Peng and accusing him of being a "right-opportunist".
Among Liu’s and Deng’s reforms were a partial retreat from collectivism, seen as more pragmatic and more effective. Liu Shaoqi declared famously, “buying is better than manufacturing, and renting is better than buying," opening a new economic frontier in China that contradicted Mao's self-sufficiency ideals.
In China, the three years beginning with 1959 were known as the Three Years of Natural Disasters (Chinese: 三年自然灾害). Food was in desperate shortage, and production fell dramatically. By the end of the Three Years of Natural Disasters, which were the direct result of the failed Great Leap Forward campaign, an estimated 20 million people had died from widespread famine.
Once in control, Liu Shaoqi promptly did a zero reset to reverse pre-Great Leap economic policy. Because of that success, he had won acclaim both within and outside the Party.. Together with Deng Xiaoping, Liu planned to ease Mao out of power but retaining him as a national icon. Mao responded by starting the Socialist Education Movement in 1963 to restore his political base.
Mao later admitted to several mistakes but defended the Great Leap Forward as a matter of principle. Although the Socialist Education Movement was aimed primarily at schoolchildren had no immediate effect on Chinese politics, it influenced the coming generation, from whom Mao could draw support in the future.
In 1963, Mao began attacking Liu Shaoqi openly, stating that class struggle is on-going and must be fully understood and taken to application "yearly, monthly, and daily". By 1964, the Socialist Education Movement had evolved to become the "Four Cleanups Movement", with the stated goal of cleansing politics, economics, ideas, and organization of "reactionaries". The Movement was directed politically against Liu Shaoqi.
In late 1959, historian and Beijing Deputy Mayor Wu Han published the first version of a historical drama entitled "Hai Rui Dismissed from Office" (《海瑞罢官》). In the play, an honest civil servant, (Hai Rui), was dismissed by a corrupt emperor.
The play initially received praise from Mao. In 1965, Mao Zedong's wife Jiang Qing and her protégé Yao Wenyuan—who at the time was an up & coming editor of a prominent newspaper in Shanghai—published an article criticising the play. They labeled it a "poisonous weed" (毒草 dúcăo）and an attack on Mao, using the allegory of Mao Zedong as the corrupt emperor and Marshal Peng Dehuai as the honest civil servant.
The Shanghai article received much nationwide coverage; many other leading dailies asked for syndication rights. Beijing Mayor Peng Zhen, a supporter of Wu Han, established a committee studying the publication and said criticism had gone too far. On February 12, 1966, this committee, called the "Group of Five in Charge of the Cultural Revolution", issued the "Outline Report on the Current Academic Discussion", which later became known as the "February Outline" (二月提纲). The document held that the dispute over Hai Rui Dismissed From Office was academic rather than political.
In May 1966, Jiang Qing and Yao Wenyuan once again publicly attacked both Wu Han and Peng Zhen in the press. On May 16, following Mao's lead, the Politburo issued a formal notice that symbolically triggered of the Cultural Revolution. In this document, titled "Notification from the Central Committee of Communist Party of China," Peng Zhen was sharply criticized, and the "Group of Five" was disbanded. "Completely penetrated with double-dealing, the thesis furiously attacked the Great cultural revolution, personally developed and managed by comrade Mao Zedong, the instructions of comrade Mao Zedong concerning criticism of Wu Han," stated the "Notification." One year later, on May 18, 1967 this "Notification" was called "a great historical document developed under the direct management of our great leader comrade Mao Zedong" in the editorial section of People's Daily.
At a later meeting of the Politburo in 1966, the new Cultural Revolution Group (CRG) (文革小组) was formed. On May 18, Lin Biao said in a speech that "Chairman Mao is a genius, everything the Chairman says is truly great; one of the Chairman's words will override the meaning of tens of thousands of ours." Thus started the first phase of Mao's cult of personality led by Jiang Qing, Lin Biao, and others. At this time, Jiang and Lin had already seized some actual power.
On May 25, a young philosophy teacher at Peking University, Nie Yuanzi, wrote a dazibao （大字报）("big-character poster") where the rector of the university and other professors were labeled "black anti-Party gangsters". Some days later, Mao Zedong ordered the text of this big-character poster to be broadcast nationwide and called it "the first Marxist dazibao in China." On May 29, 1966, at the Secondary School attached to Tsinghua University, the first organization of Red Guards was formed. It aimed to punish and neutralize both intellectuals and Mao's political enemies.
On June 1, 1966, the People's Daily, the official newspaper of the CCP, stated that all "imperialists", "people with affiliations with imperialists", "imperialistic intellectuals", et al., must be purged. Soon a movement began, that was aimed at purging university presidents and other prominent intellectuals. On July 28, 1966, Red Guard representatives wrote to Mao, stating that mass purges and all such related social and political phenomena were justified and right. Mao responded with his full support in an article entitled "Bombard the Headquarters"; thus began the Cultural Revolution.
On August 8, 1966, the Central Committee of the CCP passed its "Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" (also known as "the 16 Points"). This decision defined the GPCR as "a great revolution that touches people to their very souls and constitutes a new stage in the development of the socialist revolution in our country, a deeper and more extensive stage":
|“||Although the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, it is still trying to use the old ideas, culture, customs, and habits of the exploiting classes to corrupt the masses, capture their minds, and endeavor to stage a comeback. The proletariat must do just the opposite: It must meet head-on every challenge of the bourgeoisie in the ideological field and use the new ideas, culture, customs, and habits of the proletariat to change the mental outlook of the whole of society. At present, our objective is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic "authorities" and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.||”|
The decision thus took the already existing student movement and elevated it to the level of a nationwide mass campaign, calling on not only students but also "the masses of the workers, peasants, soldiers, revolutionary intellectuals, and revolutionary cadres" to carry out the task of "transforming the superstructure" by writing big-character posters and holding "great debates." China, Mao felt, needed a "Cultural Revolution" to put the socialism back on track.
One of the main focuses of the Cultural Revolution was the abolishment of the Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. The decision granted people the most extensive freedom of speech the People's Republic has ever seen, but this was a freedom severely determined by the Maoist ideological climate and, ultimately, by the People's Liberation Army and Mao's authority over the Army, as points 15 and 16 already made clear.
The freedoms granted in the 16 Points were later written into the PRC constitution as "the four great rights (四大自由)" of "great democracy (大民主)": the right to speak out freely, to air one's views fully, to write big-character posters, and to hold great debates (大鸣、大放、大字报、大辩论 - the first two are basically synonyms). (In other contexts the second was sometimes replaced by 大串联 - the right to "link up," meaning for students to cut class and travel across the country to meet other young activists and propagate Mao Zedong Thought.)
Those who had anything other than a Communist background were challenged and often charged for corruption and sent to prison. These freedoms were supplemented by the right to strike, although this right was severely attenuated by the Army's entrance onto the stage of civilian mass politics in February 1967. All of these rights were deleted from the constitution after Deng's government suppressed the Democracy Wall movement in 1979.
On August 16, 1966, millions of Red Guards from all over the country gathered in Beijing for a peek at the Chairman. On top of the Tiananmen Square gate, Mao and Lin Biao made frequent appearances to approximately 11 million Red Guards, receiving cheers each time. Mao praised their actions in the recent campaigns to develop socialism and democracy.
During the Destruction of Four Olds campaign, religious affairs of all types were persecuted and discouraged by the Red Guards. Many religious buildings such as temples, churches, mosques, monasteries, and cemeteries were closed down and sometimes looted and destroyed. The most gruesome aspects of the campaign were the numerous incidents of torture and killing, and the suicides that were the final option of many who suffered beatings and humiliation. In August and September, there were 1,772 people murdered in Beijing alone. In Shanghai in September there were 704 suicides and 534 deaths related to the Cultural Revolution. In Wuhan during this time there were 62 suicides and 32 murders.
The authorities were discouraged from stopping the violence of the Red Guards. Said Xie Fuzhi, national police chief: "Don't say it is wrong of them to beat up bad persons: if in anger they beat someone to death, then so be it." Mao himself had no scruples about the taking of human life, and went so far as to suggest that the sign of a true revolutionary was his desire to kill: "This man Hitler was even more ferocious. The more ferocious the better, don't you think? The more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are."
For two years, until July 1968 (and in some places for much longer), student activists such as the Red Guards expanded their areas of authority, and accelerated their efforts at socialist reconstruction. They began by passing out leaflets explaining their actions to develop and strengthen socialism, and posting the names of suspected "counter-revolutionaries" on bulletin boards. They assembled in large groups, held "great debates," and wrote educational plays. They held public meetings to criticize and solicit self-criticisms from suspected "counter-revolutionaries."
|“||The world is yours, as well as ours, but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of vigor and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you ... The world belongs to you. China's future belongs to you.||”|
This was one of many quotations in the Little Red Book that the Red Guards would later follow as a guide, provided by Mao. It was the mechanism that led the Red Guards to commit to their objective as the future for China. These quotes directly from Mao led to other actions by the Red Guards in the views of other Maoist leaders. Although the 16 Points and other pronouncements of the central Maoist leaders forbade "physical struggle (武斗)" in favor of "verbal struggle" (文斗), these struggle sessions often led to physical violence. Initially verbal struggles among activist groups became even more violent, especially when activists began to seize weapons from the Army in 1967. The central Maoist leaders limited their intervention in activist violence to verbal criticism, sometimes even appearing to encourage "physical struggle," and only after the weapons seizures did they begin to suppress the mass movement.
Liu Shaoqi was sent to a detention camp, where he later died in 1969. Deng Xiaoping, who was himself sent away for a period of re-education three times, was eventually sent to work in an engine factory, until he was brought back years later by Zhou Enlai. But most of those accused were not so lucky, and many of them never returned.
The work of the Red Guards was praised by Mao Zedong. On August 22, 1966, Mao issued a public notice, which stopped "all police intervention in Red Guard tactics and actions." Those in the police force who dared to defy this notice, were labeled "counter-revolutionaries."
On September 5, 1966, yet another notice was issued, encouraging all Red Guards to come to Beijing over a stretch of time. All fees, including accommodation and transportation, were to be paid by the government. On October 10, 1966, Mao's ally, General Lin Biao, publicly criticized Liu and Deng as "capitalist roaders" and "threats". Later, Peng Dehuai was brought to Beijing to be publicly displayed and ridiculed.
On January 3, 1967, Lin Biao and Jiang Qing employed local media and cadres to generate the so-called "January Storm", in which many prominent Shanghai municipal government leaders were heavily criticized and purged. This paved the way for Wang Hongwen to take charge of the city as leader of its Municipal Revolutionary Committee. The Municipal government was thus abolished. In Beijing, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were once again the targets of criticism, but others also pointed at the wrongdoings of the Vice Premier, Tao Zhu. Separate political struggles ensued among central government officials and local party cadres, who seized the Cultural Revolution as an opportunity to accuse rivals of "counter-revolutionary activity" as the paranoia spread.
On January 8, Mao praised these actions through party-run newspaper People's Daily, urging all local government leaders to rise in self-criticism, or the criticism and purging of others suspected of "counterrevolutionary activity". This led to massive power struggles which took the form of purge after purge among local governments, many of which stopped functioning altogether. Involvement in some sort of "revolutionary" activity was the only way to avoid being purged, but it was no guarantee.
In February, Jiang Qing and Lin Biao, with support from Mao, insisted that the "class struggles" be extended to the military. Many prominent generals of the People's Liberation Army who were instrumental in the founding of the PRC voiced their concern and opposition to the Cultural Revolution, calling it a "mistake". Former Foreign Minister Chen Yi, angered at a Politburo meeting, said factionalism was going to completely destroy the military, and in turn the party.
Other generals, including Nie Rongzhen, He Long, and Xu Xiangqian also expressed their discontent. They were subsequently denounced on national media, controlled by Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan, as the "February Counter-current forces" (Chinese: 二月逆流). They were all eventually purged by Red Guards. At the same time, many large and prominent Red Guard organizations rose in protest against other Red Guard organizations who ran dissimilar revolutionary messages, further complicating the situation and exacerbating the chaos.
This led to a notice to stop all unhealthy activity within the Red Guards from Jiang Qing. On April 6, Liu Shaoqi was openly and widely denounced by a Zhongnanhai faction whose members included Jiang Qing and Kang Sheng, and ultimately, Mao himself. This was followed by a protest and mass demonstrations, most notably in Wuhan on July 20, where Jiang openly denounced any "counter-revolutionary activity"; she later personally flew to Wuhan to criticize Chen Zaidao, the general in charge of the Wuhan area.
On July 22, Jiang Qing directed the Red Guards to replace the People's Liberation Army if necessary, and thereby to render the existing forces powerless. After the initial praise by Jiang Qing, the Red Guards began to steal and loot from barracks and other army buildings. This activity, which could not be stopped by army generals, continued until the autumn of 1968.
In the spring of 1968, a massive campaign began aimed at promoting the already-adored Mao Zedong to god-like status. On July 27, 1968, the Red Guards' power over the army was officially ended and the central government sent in units to protect many areas that remained targets for the Red Guards. Mao had supported and promoted the idea by allowing one of his "Highest Directions" to be heard by the masses. A year later, the Red Guard factions were dismantled entirely; Mao feared that the chaos they caused—and could still cause—might harm the very foundation of the Communist Party of China. In any case, their purpose had been largely fulfilled, and Mao had largely consolidated his political power.
In early October, Mao began a campaign to purge officials disloyal to him. They were sent to the countryside to work in labor camps. In the same month, at the 12th Plenum of the 8th Party Congress, Liu Shaoqi was "forever expelled from the party", and Lin Biao was made the Party's Vice-Chairman, Mao's "comrade-in-arms" and "designated successor", his status and fame in the country was second only to Mao.
In December 1968, Mao began the "Down to the Countryside Movement". During this movement, which lasted for the next decade, young intellectuals living in cities were ordered to go to the countryside. The term "intellectuals" was actually used in the broadest sense to refer to recently graduated middle school students. In the late 1970s, these "young intellectuals" were finally allowed to return to their home cities. This movement was in part a means of moving Red Guards from the cities to the countryside, where they would cause less social disruption.
Lin Biao, Mao's chosen successor, became the most prominent figure during the Cultural Revolution following 1968. In September 1971 China (and the world) was shocked when a plane in which Lin Biao was believed to be traveling crashed in Mongolia, following what seemed to be a series of assassination attempts on Mao's life. It is impossible to examine the events related to Lin Biao from 1968-1971 with cogency and accuracy because of the political sensitivities that surround the event until this day. Lin's years in power, and his disputed death have been of interest to historians worldwide, who have never been able to come to a conclusion on the issue.
On April 1, 1969, at the CCP's Ninth Congress, Lin was the big winner, officially becoming China's second-in-charge, and also had military influence that was second to none. Lin's biggest political rival, Liu Shaoqi, had been purged and Zhou Enlai's power was gradually fading.
The Ninth Congress began with Lin Biao delivering a Political Report, which was critical of Liu and other "counter-revolutionaries" while constantly quoting Mao's Little Red Book. The second thing on the agenda was the new party constitution, which was modified to officially designate Lin as Mao's successor. Henceforth, at all occasions, Mao's name was to be linked with Lin's, to be referred to as "Chairman Mao and Vice-Chairman Lin". Thirdly, a new Politburo was elected with Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, Chen Boda, Zhou Enlai, and Kang Sheng being the five new members of the Politburo Standing Committee. This new Politburo consisted mostly of those who had arisen as a result of the Cultural Revolution, with Zhou barely keeping his status, having dropped in rank to fourth among the five.
After being confirmed as Mao's successor, Lin Biao focused on the restoration of the position of State President, which had been abolished by Mao due to Liu Shaoqi's dismissal from power. Lin's aim was to become Vice-President, with Mao holding the position of State President.
On August 23, 1970, the 2nd Plenum of the CCP's Ninth Congress was once again held in Lushan. Chen Boda was the first to speak, widely praising Mao and boasting of Mao's status, with the unstated intention of raising his own. At the same time, Chen requested the restoration of the position of State President. Mao was deeply critical of Chen's speech and removed him from the Politburo Standing Committee. This was the beginning of a series of criticism sessions across the nation for people who used "deceit" for gains, who were called "Liu Shaoqi's representatives for Marxism and political liars".
Chen's removal from the Standing Committee was also seen as a warning to Lin Biao. After the Ninth Congress, Lin had continuously requested promotions within the party and the Central Government, leading Mao to suspect him of wanting supreme power and even of intending to oust Mao himself. Chen's speech added to Mao's apprehensions. If Lin were to become Vice-President, he would legally have supreme power after the President's death– presenting a clear danger to Mao's safety.
Mao's refusal to let Lin gain more prominence within the Party and the government deeply frustrated Lin. Moreover, his power base was shrinking by the day within the Party apparatus, and his health was also gradually waning. Lin's supporters decided to use the military power still at their disposal to oust Mao Zedong in a military coup. Lin's son, Lin Liguo, and other high-ranking military conspirators created a coup apparatus in Shanghai aimed solely at ousting Mao from power by the use of force, and dubbed the plan Project 571, which was somewhat homologous to "Military Uprising" in Mandarin. It is disputed how involved Lin was in this process. In one known document, Lin stated in Shanghai that "A new power struggle has surged upon us, if indeed we could not take control of revolutionary activity, then these control powers will fall upon someone else."
Lin's plan consisted mainly of aerial bombardments and the widespread use of the Air Force. Were the plan to succeed, Lin could successfully arrest all of his political rivals and gain the supreme power that he wanted. But if it were to fail, he would face great and dire consequences. Revisionist sources, however, dispute Lin's involvement in the coup attempt, and place a large portion of the blame on his son Lin Liguo.
Assassination attempts were made against Mao in Shanghai, from September 8 to September 10, 1971. It was learned that before these attacks upon Mao there was initial knowledge of Lin's activities on the part of local police, who stated that Lin Biao had been coordinating a political plot, and Lin's loyal backers were receiving special training in the military.
From these events onward came continuous allegations and reports of Mao being attacked. One of these reports suggested that en route to Beijing in his private train, Mao was physically attacked; another alleged that Lin had bombed a bridge that Mao was to cross to reach Beijing, which Mao avoided because intelligence reports caused him to change routes. In those nervous days, guards were placed every 10–20 meters on the railway tracks of Mao's route, facing outwards from the train, to prevent attempts at assassination.
Although reports are conflicting, it is known that after September 11 of the same year, Lin never appeared in public again, nor did his backers, most of whom attempted to escape to then British-held Hong Kong. Many failed in doing so, and around twenty army generals were arrested.
It was also learned that on September 13, 1971, Lin Biao, his wife Ye Qun, son Lin Liguo, and a few staff attempted to fly to the Soviet Union. En route, Lin's plane crashed in Mongolia, killing all on board. On the same day, the Politburo met in an emergency session to discuss matters pertaining to Lin Biao. Only on September 30 was Lin's death confirmed in Beijing, which led to the cancellation of the National Day celebration events the following day.
The exact cause of the plane crash remains a mystery. It is widely believed that Lin's plane ran out of fuel or that there was a sudden engine failure. There was also speculation that the plane was shot down. It could also have been Soviet forces, who later took possession of the bodies of those on board. Regardless, Lin's attempted coup had failed, leading to the destruction of his reputation within the CCP and in the country.
In light of what seemed like the betrayal and fall of one of his closest comrades, Mao's political apprehension was strongly raised, and another void had opened with the question of succession. In the absence of fitting candidates, in September 1972, a young cadre from Shanghai, Wang Hongwen, was transferred to work in Beijing for the Central Government, quickly being elevated to become the Communist Party's Vice-Chairman in the following year, seemingly groomed for succession. At the same time, however, under the advice of Premier Zhou Enlai, then politically-disgraced Deng Xiaoping was also transferred back to work in Beijing as Executive Vice-Premier, directing "day-to-day government affairs".
The death of Lin Biao and Mao's declining health also saw an increase in the power of Mao's wife Jiang Qing and her supporters. Although Jiang Qing was at the forefront of carrying out Maoist policies in the earlier stages of the Cultural Revolution, it was clear following Lin Biao's death that Jiang Qing had political ambitions of her own. She allied herself politically with propaganda specialists Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan, and the politically-favoured Wang Hongwen, and formed a political clique later dubbed as the "Gang of Four". Together they held effective control of the media and China's propaganda network and were antagonistic towards Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping's economic initiatives. In late 1973, they seized the opportunity to begin another political movement, the Pi-Lin Pi-Kong ("Criticize Lin (Biao), Criticize Confucius)" campaign, whose stated goals were to eradicate China of neo-Confucianist thinking and denounce Lin Biao's actions as traitorous and regressive. The campaign was widely publicized and was indirectly aimed at Premier Zhou Enlai, whose political position the Gang of Four was seeking to weaken. The Gang identified Zhou as the main political threat in post-Mao era succession. Reminiscent of the first years of the Cultural revolution, the political battle was acted out through historical allegory, and although Zhou Enlai's name was never mentioned during this campaign, the Premier's historical namesake, the Duke of Zhou, was a frequent target. But the public was generally weary of useless or devastating political campaigns and movements, and lent little effort this time around. The campaign failed to achieve its goals.
The Gang of Four's heavy hand in political and media control did not prevent Deng Xiaoping from reinstating progressive policies in the economic arena. Deng's stance against party factionalism was clear and his policies were aimed at promoting unity as the first step to reimplementing effective production. Mao, however, dubbed Deng's policies as an attempt at "rehabilitating the case for the rightists". With the reputation of the entire Cultural Revolution at stake should Deng further his policies, Mao responded by directing Deng to write self-criticisms during December 1975, a move lauded by the Gang of Four.
On January 8, Zhou Enlai died of bladder cancer. The next day, Beijing's Monument to the People's Heroes began filling up with wreaths expressing the people's mourning for the Premier. The event was unprecedented in PRC history. On January 15, Zhou's funeral was held. Events commemorating Zhou took place across the country. The Gang of Four grew apprehensive that spontaneous, large-scale popular support for Zhou could turn the political tide against them. They acted through the media to impose restrictions, forbidding the "wearing of black sashes and white flowers" along with other mourning activities. Deng Xiaoping delivered Zhou's official eulogy in a funeral attended by all of China's senior leaders with the exception of Mao himself, who was gravely ill. After Zhou's death, Mao did not select a member of the Gang of Four to become Premier, instead choosing the relatively unknown Hua Guofeng.
April 5 was China's Qingming Festival, a traditional day of mourning for those who have died. People had gathered since late March in Tiananmen Square, mourning the death of Zhou Enlai. At the same time, popular discontent grew towards the Gang of Four, and people began writing and posting messages of disapproval against the Gang in public. On April 5, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in and around Tiananmen Square, turning the assembly into a form of non-violent protest ostensibly aimed at the Gang. In response, the Central Committee, operating under the auspices of the Gang, ordered police to enter the area, clear the wreaths and messages, and disperse the crowds. They asserted that the Tiananmen Incident, as it became known, was masterminded by a "small minority of right-leaning reactionaries" under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, and subsequently condemned the event on national media. In a Central Committee meeting on April 6, Zhang Chunqiao directly criticized Deng, who was stripped of all his positions and was put under house arrest.
On September 9, 1976, Mao Zedong died. Mao's image during Cultural Revolution portrayed him as a larger-than-life figure who represented China's revolutionary progress. To many, Mao's death symbolized the loss of the socialist foundation of China. When his death was announced on the afternoon of September 9, in a press release entitled A Notice from the Central Committee, the NPC, State Council, and the CMC to the whole Party, the whole Army and to the people of all nationalities throughout the country, the nation descended into grief and mourning, with people weeping in the streets and public institutions closing for over a week. Before dying, Mao had allegedly scribbled a message on a piece of paper stating "With you in charge, I'm at ease", to Hua Guofeng. This legitimized Hua as the Party's new Chairman. Before this event, Hua had been widely considered to be lacking in political skill and ambitions, and seemingly posed no serious threat to the Gang of Four in the race for succession. However, the Gang's radical ideas also clashed with some influential elders and a large segment of party reformers. With army backing and the support of prominent generals like Ye Jianying, ordered the arrest of the Gang of Four following Mao's death. On October 10, the 8341 Special Regiment had all members of the Gang of Four arrested in a bloodless coup. Historically, this marked the end of the Cultural Revolution era.
Even though Hua Guofeng publicly denounced and arrested the Gang of Four in 1976, he continued to invoke Mao's name to justify Mao-era policies. Hua opened what was known as the Two Whatevers, saying "Whatever policy originated from Chairman Mao, we must continue to support," and "Whatever directions were given to us from Chairman Mao, we must continue to work on their basis." Like Deng, Hua's goal was to reverse the damage of the Cultural Revolution; but unlike Deng, who was not against new economic models for China, Hua intended to move the Chinese economic and political system towards Soviet-style planning of the early 1950s.
It became increasingly clear to Hua that without Deng Xiaoping, it was difficult to continue daily affairs of state. Deng also had notable prestige within the party. On October 10, Deng Xiaoping personally wrote a letter to Hua asking to be transferred back to state and party affairs. Unconfirmed information allegedly stated that Politburo Standing Committee member Ye Jianying would resign if Deng was not allowed back into the Central Government. With increasing pressure from all sides, Hua decided to bring Deng back into state affairs, first naming him Vice-Premier of the State Council in July 1977, and to various other positions. In fact, through the process Deng had become China's number two figure. In August, the Party's Eleventh Congress was held in Beijing, officially naming (in ranking order) Hua Guofeng, Ye Jianying, Deng Xiaoping, Li Xiannian, and Wang Dongxing as the latest members of the oligarchical Politburo Standing Committee.
In May 1978, Deng seized the opportunity for his protégé, Hu Yaobang, to be further elevated to power. Hu published an article on Guangming Daily, making clever use of Mao's quotations while lauding Deng's ideas. After this article was published, it was clear that support was with Hu, and thus Deng. On July 1, Deng publicized Mao's self-criticism report of 1962 regarding the failure of the Great Leap Forward. With an expanding power base, in September 1978, Deng began openly attacking Hua Guofeng's "Two Whatevers".
On December 18, 1978, the pivotal Third Plenum of the Eleventh CCP Congress was held. During the congress Deng famously stated that "a liberation of thoughts" was in order and the party and country needed to "seek truth from facts". Hua Guofeng engaged in self-criticism, stating that his "Two Whatevers" policy was a mistake. Wang Dongxing, formerly Mao's trusted ally, was also criticized. At the Plenum, the Qingming Tiananmen Square incident was also politically rehabilitated. Disgraced leader Liu Shaoqi was allowed a belated state funeral.
At the Fifth Plenum of the Eleventh CCP Congress, held in 1980, Peng Zhen, He Long and many others who had been purged during the Cultural Revolution were politically rehabilitated. Hu Yaobang was named General-Secretary and Zhao Ziyang, another of Deng's protégés, was introduced into the Central Committee. In September, Hua Guofeng resigned, with Zhao Ziyang being named the new Premier. Deng was the Chairman of the Central Military Commission. The power transition into a new generation of pragmatic reformist leaders was now complete.
Under unspoken conventions, the Communist Party saw itself as the national legal authority on all modern historical issues; therefore, it was necessary to lend the Cultural Revolution an appropriate historical judgment. Among the challenges faced by the new government was the question of how to assess and assign responsibility in the events and how to treat the event in China's complex historiography.
On June 27, 1981, the Central Committee adopted the "Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China", a document pertaining to the official historical assessment of a series of political movements since 1949. In this document, it is stated that the "Chief responsibility for the grave 'Left' error of the 'Cultural Revolution,' an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong". It is stated that the Cultural Revolution was carried out "under the mistaken leadership of Mao Zedong, which was manipulated by the counterrevolutionary groups of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, and brought serious disaster and turmoil to the Communist Party and the Chinese people."
It was necessary in this official view, which has since become the dominant framework for the Chinese historiography of the time period, to separate the personal actions of Mao during the Cultural Revolution from his earlier heroism. It also separates Mao's personal mistakes from the correctness of the theory that he created, which remains a guiding ideology in the Party. It also aimed to continue the legitimacy in the mandate of the Communist Party and the construction of socialism - although many interpretations on Mao's ideology as well as the founding principles of the Party would change with the rise of what would later become known as Socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The effects of the Cultural Revolution directly or indirectly touched essentially all of China's population. During the Cultural Revolution, much economic activity was halted, with "revolution", regardless of interpretation, being the primary objective of the country. The start of the Cultural Revolution brought huge numbers of Red Guards to Beijing, with all expenses paid by the government, and the railway system was in turmoil. Countless ancient buildings, artifacts, antiques, books, and paintings were destroyed by Red Guards. By December 1967, 350 million copies of Mao's Quotations had been printed.
Elsewhere, the 10 years of the Cultural Revolution also brought the education system to a virtual halt. The university entrance exams were cancelled during this period, not to be restored by Deng Xiaoping until 1979. Many intellectuals were sent to rural labour camps, and many of those who survived left China shortly after the revolution ended. Many survivors and observers suggest that almost anyone with skills over that of the average person was made the target of political "struggle" in some way. According to most Western observers as well as followers of Deng Xiaoping, this led to almost an entire generation of inadequately educated individuals. However, this varies depending on the region, and the measurement of literacy did not resurface until the 1980s. Some counties in the Zhanjiang district, for example, had illiteracy rates as high as 41% some 20 years after the revolution. The leaders denied any illiteracy problems from the start. This effect was amplified by the elimination of qualified teachers—many of the districts were forced to rely upon chosen students to re-educate the next generation.
Mao Zedong Thought had become the central operative guide to all things in China. The authority of the Red Guards surpassed that of the army, local police authorities, and the law in general. China's traditional arts and ideas were ignored, with praise for Mao being practiced in their place. People were encouraged to criticize cultural institutions and to question their parents and teachers, which had been strictly forbidden in Confucian culture. This was emphasized even more during the Anti-Lin Biao; Anti-Confucius Campaign. Slogans such as "Parents may love me, but not as much as Chairman Mao" were common.
The Cultural Revolution also brought to the forefront numerous internal power struggles within the Communist party, many of which had little to do with the larger battles between Party leaders, but resulted instead from local factionalism and petty rivalries that were usually unrelated to the "revolution" itself. Because of the chaotic political environment, local governments lacked organization and stability, if they existed at all. Members of different factions often fought on the streets, and political assassination, particularly in rural-oriented provinces, was common. The masses spontaneously involved themselves in factions, and took part in open warfare against other factions. The ideology that drove these factions was vague and sometimes nonexistent, with the struggle for local authority being the only motivation for mass involvement.
China's historical reserves, artifacts and sites of interest suffered devastating damage as they were thought to be at the root of "old ways of thinking". Many artifacts were seized from private homes and often destroyed on the spot. There are no records of exactly how much was destroyed. Western observers suggest that much of China's thousands of years of history was in effect destroyed or, later smuggled abroad for sale, during the short ten years of the Cultural Revolution, and that such destruction and sale of historical artifacts is unmatched at any time or place in human history. Chinese historians compare the cultural suppression during the Cultural Revolution to Qin Shihuang's great Confucian purge. The most prominent symbol of academic research in archaeology, the journal Kaogu, did not publish during the Cultural Revolution. Religious persecution, in particular, intensified during this period, because religion was seen as being opposed to Marxist-Leninist and Maoist thinking.
The status of traditional Chinese culture within China is also severely damaged as a result of the Cultural Revolution. Many traditional customs, such as fortune telling; paper art; feng shui consultations; wearing traditional Chinese dresses for weddings; use of traditional Chinese calendar; scholarship in classical Chinese literature; and the practice of referring to the Chinese New Year as "New Year" rather than "Spring Festival"; had been weakened in China. Yet some aspects recovered fully, and some still survived in some forms in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Malaysia and in overseas Chinese communities, notwithstanding the impacts of Western culture (and Japanese culture in the case of Taiwan and Manchuria) on those communities.
The Cultural Revolution was particularly devastating for minority cultures in China. In Tibet, over 6,000 monasteries were destroyed, often with the complicity of local ethnic Tibetan Red Guards. In Inner Mongolia, some 790,000 people were persecuted, of these 22,900 were beaten to death and 120,000 were maimed, during a ruthless witchhunt to find members of the allegedly "separatist" Inner Mongolian People's Party, which had actually been disbanded decades before. According to Jung Chang in her controversial book Mao: The Unknown Story, supposed cases of atrocities included a Muslim woman having her teeth pulled out with pliers, then her nose and ears twisted off, before being hacked to death. Another woman was raped with a pole (she then committed suicide). One man had nails driven into his skull. Another had his tongue cut out and then his eyes gouged out. Another was beaten with clubs on the genitals before having gunpowder forced up his nostrils and set alight. In Xinjiang, copies of the Quran and other books of the Uyghur people were apparently burned and Muslim imams were reportedly paraded around with paint splashed on their persons. In the ethnic Korean areas of northeast China, language schools were destroyed. In Yunnan Province, the palace of the Dai people's king was torched, and an infamous massacre of Hui Muslim people at the hands of the People's Liberation Army, called the "Shadian Incident", reportedly claimed over 1,600 lives in 1975.
According to Shaorong Huang, a Professor of Communications at the University of Cincinnati, "the fact that so many people did such crazy things during this brief time frame provides strong evidence of the power of political rhetoric." In a sense, Huang writes, "China’s Cultural Revolution was a rhetorical movement during which both the leaders and the participants moved and were moved by words." Political slogans played a leading role during the movement, with the slogan “to rebel is justified” becoming a unitary theme. The slogan “salute the Red Guards” legalized the Red Guards’ "mischievous actions" in demolishing the four olds and carrying out home raids, while other slogans empowered the PLA to exercise military control. Political slogans controlled all aspects of people’s lives during the Cultural Revolution, Huang argues. Workers were supposed to “grasp revolution and promote productions,” while peasants were supposed to raise more pigs because “more pigs means more manure, and more manure means more grain.” And even a casual remark by Mao that “Sweet potato tastes good, I like it,” became a slogan everywhere in the countryside.
Cultural Revolution political slogans had three sources. Those such as "never forget classes and class struggle," revolution is not a dinner party," and "he who is not afraid of death by a thousand cuts dares to unhorse the emperor" were originally Mao's words. Those slogans like "be proletarian revolutionaries, not bourgeois loyalists" were from official media like the People's Daily and the Liberation Army Daily. Slogans (of a more violent variety) like "strike the enemy down on the floor and step on with a foot," "long live the red terror," and "those who are against Chairman Mao will have their dog skulls smashed into pieces," were from the Red Guard's big character posters (dazibao).
Noted Sinologist Lowell Dittmer and his colleague Chen Ruoxi point out that the Chinese language "had been known for its subtlety and delicacy, for its reflection of such Confucian ideals as honesty and sincerity, moderation and respect for wisdom, and also for its cultivation of a refined and elegant literary style." Since Mao wanted an army of bellicose people in his crusade, according to Huang, and bellicose people could only be driven by militant language, rhetoric during the Cultural Revolution sought to reduce vocabulary to political terms and slogans that featured violence and agitation. These slogans were powerful and effective, mobilizing millions of people in a concerted attack upon the subjective world, "while at the same time reforming their objective world."
Dittmer and Chen argue that the emphasis on politics made language a very effective form of propaganda, but "also transformed it into a jargon of stereotypes--pompous, repetitive, and boring." Dittmer characterises the Cultural Revolution as a "form of collective thought reform."
Millions of people in China had their human rights annulled during the Cultural Revolution. Those identified as spies, "running dogs" or "revisionists" (such as landowners) were variously subjected to violent attack, imprisonment, rape, torture, sustained and systematic harassment and abuse, seizure of property and erasure of social identity, with unknown hundreds of thousands (or more) murdered, executed, starved or worked to death. Millions were forcibly displaced. During the Cultural Revolution, young people from the cities were forcibly moved to the countryside, where they were forced to abandon all forms of standard education in place of the propaganda teachings of the Communist Party of China.
Some of the most extreme violence took place in the southern province of Guangxi, where a Chinese journalist found a "disturbing picture of official compliance in the systematic killing and cannibalization of individuals in the name of political revolution and 'class struggle.'" Senior party historians acknowledge that "In a few places, it even happened that 'counterrevolutionaries' were beaten to death and in the most beastly fashion had their flesh and liver consumed [by their killers]." Not even the minor children of 'enemies of the people' were spared, as more than a few were tortured and bludgeoned to death, dismembered and some of their organs - hearts, livers, and genitals - eaten during 'human flesh banquets'. As a result of this frenzied killing and 'obligatory cannibalism', an estimated 100,000 people were killed in Guangxi alone.
Estimates of the death toll, civilians and Red Guards, from various sources are about 500,000 in the true years of chaos of 1966—1969. Some people were not able to stand the torture and, losing hope for the future, committed suicide. One of the most famous cases was communist leader Deng Xiaoping's son Deng Pufang who jumped/was thrown from a four-story building during that time. Instead of dying, he became a paraplegic. In the trial of the so-called Gang of Four, a Chinese court stated that 729,511 people had been persecuted of which 34,800 were said to have died. However, the true figure may never be known since many deaths went unreported or were actively covered up by the police or local authorities. Other reasons are the state of Chinese demographics at the time, as well as the reluctance of the PRC to allow serious research into the period. One recent scholarly account asserts that in rural China alone some 36 million people were persecuted, of whom between 750,000 and 1.5 million were killed, with roughly the same number permanently injured. In Mao: The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday claim that as many as 3 million people died in the violence of the Cultural Revolution.
The reaction abroad was mixed, and tied to political movements of the time. A significant re-evaluation of the events of the Cultural Revolution occurred amongst the Western political left once the full extent of the destruction became known, thus tarnishing China's image in the West. In Hong Kong a pro-Communist strike was launched, known as the Hong Kong 1967 riots. Its excesses damaged the credibility of these activists for more than a generation in the eyes of Hong Kong residents. In the Republic of China (Taiwan), Chiang Kai-shek initiated the Chinese Culture Renaissance Movement to counter what he regarded as destruction of traditional Chinese values by the Communists on the mainland.
One of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 Shen Tong, author of the book, Almost a Revolution has a positive view of some aspects of the Cultural Revolution. According to him, the trigger for the famous hunger-strikes of 1989 was a "dazibao" (big-character poster), a form of public political discussion that gained prominence in the Cultural Revolution and was subsequently outlawed. When students organized demonstrations in the millions, something not seen since the Cultural Revolution, youths from outside Beijing rode the trains into Beijing and relied on the hospitality of train workers and Beijing residents, just as their counterparts had ridden the trains freely during the Cultural Revolution. Also, as in the Cultural Revolution, students formed factions, with names similar to those of Red Guard factions, using the term "Headquarters" for instance, and according to Shen Tong, these factions even went to the extent of kidnapping members of other factions, just as they had done in the Cultural Revolution. Finally, in a small minority of cases, some of the student leaders of 1989 had been youth activists in high school during the Cultural Revolution.
Today, the Cultural Revolution is widely seen inside and outside China, including the Communist Party of China, as an unmitigated disaster, and as an event to be avoided in the future. At the time of the Tiananmen Square protests, no politically significant groups within China defended the Cultural Revolution; the protesters were largely neoliberal in outlook remain highly controversial. Supporters of the Chinese democracy movement see the Cultural Revolution as an example of what happens when democracy is lacking and place responsibility for the Cultural Revolution on the Communist Party of China. Similarly, human rights activists and civil libertarians also see the Cultural Revolution as an example of the dangers of statism. Briefly put, these views of the Cultural Revolution attribute its cause to "too much government and too little popular participation".
By contrast, the official view of the Communist Party of China is that the Cultural Revolution is what can happen when one person establishes a cult of personality and manipulates the public in such a way as to destroy the party and state institutions. In this view, the Cultural Revolution is an example of too much popular participation in government, rather than too little; and is an example of the dangers of anarchy rather than statism. The consequence of this view is the consensus among the Chinese leadership that China must be governed by a strong party institution, in which decisions are made collectively and according to the rule of law, and in which the public has only limited input. After Mao's death, the Communist Party blamed the Gang of Four for the negative results of the Cultural Revolution. Liu Xiaobo argued that this is still the case, with the Gang of Four being used as convenient scapegoats, rather than focusing upon Mao Zedong's responsibility.
These contradictory views of the Cultural Revolution were put into sharp relief during the Tiananmen Protests of 1989, when both the demonstrators and the government justified their actions as being necessary to avoid another Cultural Revolution.
The relationship between Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution is also controversial. Although there is general agreement that Mao was responsible for the Cultural Revolution, there is considerable dispute concerning the effect of the Cultural Revolution on Mao's legacy. The PRC's official version of history regards the Cultural Revolution as a serious error by Mao Zedong, whose contribution to history was 70% good and 30% bad. Using this formulation, the Party has argued that the Cultural Revolution should not denigrate Mao's earlier role as a heroic leader in fighting the Japanese, founding the People's Republic of China and developing the ideology which underlies the Communist Party of China. This allows the Party to condemn both the Cultural Revolution and Mao's role within it, without calling into question the ideology of the Party.
The first museum specifically dedicated to the Cultural Revolution opened in mid-2005 as a privately-funded museum in Guangdong province, created by Peng Qi'an, 74, a former deputy mayor of Shantou. Peng himself was almost executed during the Cultural Revolution, and survived only due to a last-minute reprieves. He stated that he wanted future generations of Chinese to realise how large an impact the period had on China, and how much ordinary Chinese suffered. Although the museum continues to operate, publicity about the museum was suppressed by provincial authorities shortly after its opening.
Remembrance (Chinese:《记忆》）, the first electronic journal in China devoted specifically to academic research on the Cultural Revolution was launched in September 2008, by the Beijing-based historian and film critic Wu Di and the Chongqing-based historian and magazine editor He Shu.
However, Mao Zedong once stated that he had two great achievements in his life, one is the founding of the PRC, the other is the Cultural Revolution, the long term effect of that on the Chinese culture and civilization is yet to be correctly understood and appreciated.
Abroad, the Cultural Revolution armed the Communists of Nepal with Maoism, and contributed to their success in the struggle against three mountains--imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism. Cambodia also underwent radical social and political changes from 1975-1979 when the Khmer Rouge took control of the country and its leader, Pol Pot, implemented plans based partly upon China's Cultural Revolution, resulting in the murder of one million people.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Simplified Chinese: 无产阶级文化大革命, Traditional Chinese: 無產階級文化大革命, Pinyin: Wúchǎn Jiējí Wénhuà Dà Gémìng, literally: Proletarian Cultural Great Revolution); shortened in Chinese as 文化大革命 or 文革), also known simply as the Cultural Revolution, was a time of large cultural change in China, started by the leader Mao Zedong. It happened from 1966 to 1976.
The start of the Cultural Revolution was when Mao tried to remove capitalists from the Communist Party of China, the party in charge of China. To try and get rid of the capitalists, he started the Socialist Education Movement. It started in 1962 and ended in 1965. At the same time, a redoing of the school system made sure that students were able to also work in factories and . Mao slowly started to regain power in 1965, supported by Lin Biao, Jiang Qing, and Chen Boda.
The Communist Party was split between Mao's partners and Deng Xiaoping's partners. Deng Xiaoping was a rival of Mao. Mao then tried to get support from young people in China by creating the book Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (also known as the Little Red Book), a collection of Mao's sayings. The Red Guard was also made popular. They were a group of young people in China that went around teaching Mao's sayings. They also beat people who disagreed with Mao and destroyed homes and museums. There were many fights breaking out, and China faced anarchy. During the revolution, several important people in China were forced to leave. These people included Liu Shao-chi, head of state, and Teng Hsiao-ping, the secretary-general of the Communist Party of China.
The Cultural Revolution began to slow down in 1967, and ended in 1969. The Ninth National Party Congress was a meeting where the end of the Cultural Revolution was announced.
The Cultural Revolution caused a lot of problems in China. Production in factories was lowered because of the workers' political activities. It was also lowered because the people put in charge of the factories did not know how to run them. Transportation was made worse because a lot of trains were being used to take Red Guards around the country. Many scientists and engineers were put in jail or sent to work on the farms, which meant that their knowledge was lost. Because of these changes, the industrial output of China was reduced by 14 percent.
The education of many Chinese people was also cut short. The education system was more in the cities than in the countryside. Universities and many schools were closed. A program called the "sent-down youth" program also disrupted education. In that program, children were sent from the cities to the countryside.
krc:Къытайда культура революция