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Cultural Revolution


The Preface of The Cultural Revolution (1964 to 1966)

A preface to the Cultural Revolution that provoked surprise around the world was an article condemning a play. Someone called Yao Wenyuan wrote the article. The play was "Dramas of the Ming Mandarin" written by Wu Han.

'Reactionary bourgeois authorities'

in 1964, Mao drew up a list of thirty-nine artists, writers, and scholars, and branded them 'reactionary bourgeois authorities'. The list included many people who had been leaders in their fields like Wu Han who wrote "Dramas of the Ming Mandarin". The list was not open to the public, so these thirty-nine people were not purged then. But Mao ordered the communists working in every region to expose other 'reactionary bourgeois authorities'.

"Dramas of the Ming Mandarin" is a play about an historical character, Hai Rui, a mandarin from the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Ming Mandarin remonstrated with the emperor on behalf of the suffering ordinary people, at the risk of his own life. Consequently he was dismissed and exiled. Mao and Jiang Qing suspected that the Ming Mandarin was being used to represent Marshal Peng Dehuai, the former defense minister who in 1959 had spoken out against Mao's disastrous policies, which had caused the famine. Jiang Qing went to Shanghai and asked Yao Wenyuan to write a report criticizing "Dramas of the Ming Mandarin". This was done in complete secrecy, nobody but Mao and Mme. Mao knew about it.

This despotic, unreasonable, public criticism against named individuals provoked much guessing and controversy in many circles. The report especially provoked antipathy in academic circles. Many people wrote articles disagreeing with the report in the newspaper. Nobody expected the report to be published in other newspapers.

The Cultural Revolution

On the 10 November 1965, having repeatedly failed to have the article, condemning Wu Han's play, published in Peking, Mao was at last able to get it printed in Shanghai, where his followers were in charge. It was then that the people first saw the term, "the Cultural Revolution". The party's own newspaper, the People's Daily, refused to reprint the article. The Beijing Daily, the voice of the Party organization also refused to reprint it, because the purpose of the article was clearly an attack against Peng Dehuai and political persecution. People's Daily finally printed it on 30 November only after Zhou Enlai, the Premier, added a note to it in the name of "the Editor", saying that the Cultural Revolution was to be an "academic" discussion, meaning that it should be non-political and should not lead to political condemnations.

February Resolution

Over the next three months there was intense maneuvering, with Mao's opponents, as well as Zhou, trying to head off Mao's witch-hunt. In February 1966, the Politburo passed a resolution that "academic discussion" must not degenerate into persecutions. Mao had objected to the February resolution, but he was ignored.

But three months later, Mao cancelled the February resolution taking sides with Zhou, and declared that all dissident scholars and their ideas must be "eliminated". He emphasized that it was officials in the Communist Party who had been protecting the dissident scholars and other class enemies. He termed these officials "those in power who are following the capitalist road,"(called them "capitalist-roaders") and declared war on them.

Impact on all over the China

Political condemnations were rapidly spread all over China. Criticism against "Dramas of the Ming Mandarin" prevailed among not only plays and literatures with material for Ming Mandarin but also in the main realm of social science, literature, and philosophy. Many articles that condemned Wu Han and the other scholars, were inserted on newspapers, political criticism occurred all over China. Mischief of these campaigns was quite severe as it was proved later. It denied all of the products in the realm of culture and art, and also confused the thought of all communists and the people, and encouraged them (the people) to suspect everything.

On this note, the Cultural Revolution was formally launched.

The Beginning of the Cultural Revolution (Oct, 1966)

The Start of the Cultural Revolution In October 1966, the Eleventh Congress was held in Beijing. Then "the Decision about the Proletarian Cultural Revolution" was accepted formally with the consensus of everyone present. But it was not a conclusion coming from the speeches by Mao and other persons like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Mao's statements were already a given "decision" and considered as "the best instruction". And what was emphasized above all was the doctrine of Maoism, and the need to learn to call it by this name.

Red Guard

"How can I make the Cultural Revolution spread everywhere in China?" Mao found a solution. It was to support students and stir them up to go everywhere in China and to fan the fire of the Cultural Revolution. This was the "Red Guard" as the world came to know them. The Red Guards had already been born at the party in Beijing in early June 1966. In those days there was much debate about whether the creation of such an organization was correct or not in schools and society, so it did not develop very much. But the high value placed on the Red Guards by Mao made many students volunteer, and consequently the Red Guard campaign spread rapidly over all the cities and countryside in China.

They searched out Mao's enemies and violently dealt with those who opposed him, destroying the "four olds". But there was some resistance and opposition to the Cultural Revolution. Some of the Red Guard began to question the Cultural Revolution in its violent and excessive campaign. They linked the members of Red Guard all over the China together to resist the Authority of the Cultural Revolution. They marched in Beijing, shouting their battle cry and posting the battle cry on walls. This campaign infuriated the Authorities of the Cultural Revolution and the members were subsequently purged.

People and leaders resisted more and more, and the Red Guards were divided and embattled, and conflict between workers and peasants and Red Guards occurred in the countryside. Even under such conditions, the leaders of the Cultural Revolution didn't reflect over the rationality and justice of the Cultural Revolution. In fact it encouraged them for they jumped to the conclusion that everything was the fault of capitalist-roaders. They saw the capitalist-roaders as those who stirred the people to battle with Red Guards. In this way a new crime, of being "reactionary bourgeois authorities", was born.

This campaign spread all over the China. It provoked a boycott and revolution within party committees and the work of the party was suspended. In the congress held in October in Beijing, Lin Biao and Chen Boda advertised the necessity and meaning of the Cultural Revolution. Lin referred to the Cultural Revolution in this way; " The Cultural Revolution showed a standard for the world that has never appeared ever before". In addition, they criticized Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi as "reactionary bourgeois authorities" by name, saying that "they oppressed the people and objected to the Cultural Revolution".

The Cultural Revolution at Companies and in the Countryside

At first, the main target of the Cultural Revolution was the realm of culture and education and the organization of the party and the government. The Cultural Revolution at factories, traffic, companies, and in the countryside, had to be carried out deliberately and gradually, for persons like Zhou Enlai feared that the Cultural Revolution would affect the economy. Of course the Cultural Revolution was important, but production was important as well, and above all production was needed for China. So the Party had been declared that "in fall, a peasant's energy should be absorbed in harvesting, sowing, and business. So the activity for the revolution might be stopped during that".

But this ruling had been lost sight of during the criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities", and consequently all industry and agriculture had dropped into chaos.

In November 1966, on the basis of the Party's ruling, a congress was held, in which it was debated how best to carry out the Cultural Revolution in the realm of industry and commerce. Some members felt that the revolution at in industry and commerce should be forced forward deliberately and the relationship between production and the revolution should be dealt with correctly. The congress lasted for twenty days and participants criticized the radical expansion of the revolution suggested by the Authorities of the Cultural Revolution. It was a battle trying to limit the expansion of the Cultural Revolution.

But in the congress held by Lin Biao in December, the ruling that the Cultural Revolution should be pushed forward in commerce and industry was discussed and accepted. Persons like Lin Biao and Jiang Qing unjustly criticized the majority of the objections in the congress in November.

The ruling said that workers should continue to do their jobs for eight hours a day, and in the rest time workers should carry out the Cultural Revolution. Besides this, the spokesmen of the workers should go to schools, to talk to the students. In exchange, students also could go to experience work in factories or mine. This made the Cultural Revolution spread over the realm of industry, trade and commerce. And workers got to connect with students. The normal order of production was lost, and production in factories became confused.

At the same time, the Cultural Revolution was spread in through the countryside. In December the Party ruled that also in countryside Red Guard should be organized and developed, and the students could go to the countryside, where the peasants would communicate with the students through the experience of agriculture. In this way the Cultural Revolution was spread in earnest over the countryside all over China.

Criticism against high ranking leaders

It was high-ranking leaders that were targeted in the campaign of criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities". Lin Biao and Jiang Qing planned demonstrations everywhere, with battle cries of "down with Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi". And they stirred the Red Guard to swear at Peng Dehuai who had been appointed the second leader of construction work before the Cultural Revolution, and call him a "counterrevolutionary" and "warlord". He was led away to Beijing and confined there. Then he was brought to a kangaroo court, tortured, struck and badly injured. He was killed after he was found guilty in 1974. Such persecution against leaders was carried out by the Red Guards, instigated by Lin Biao or Jiang Qing.

Although Zhou Enlai managed to get the consensus of Mao, and protected leaders and scholars who were coming under being criticism, the efforts of Zhou couldn't fundamentally stop the purge against them. The Cultural Revolution had already developed a destructive power, which could not be halted.

Severe Confusion (1967)


Criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities" made China drop into confusion, and China had no government for a while. Under such conditions it was clear that it would be hard to keep promoting the Cultural Revolution, and Mao had already recognized that. He said 1967 would be " a year in which the class battle will expand all over China". And he expected that Shanghai would become the model of how to get out of confusion.

The Red Guards, like the other Party committees in other main cities attacked the Party committee in Shanghai. At that time a battle between the Red Guards and the workers took place, but even among the workers rebel groups formed, and they beat workers who were against the Cultural Revolution. The Party committee lost power, and Shanghai's government collapsed. Although the rebel group made their own newspaper, workers who were against the revolution opposed them and the Red Guards, striking for higher pay. In consequence Shanghai was economically paralyzed. After receiving instructions from the Authority of the Cultural Revolution, the rebel group held a meeting to defeat the Party committee, declare the take over of power, and halt the strike.

Mao praised the movement in Shanghai, as he would encourage the promotion of the Cultural Revolution all over China. The Cultural Revolution Authority also regarded the movement by the rebels as "completely right", in not tolerating the economic demands by workers.

In those days the battle to take the initiative raged among the rebels. A rebel group, including Wang Hongwen, tried to take power, but the subsequent group to rebel established their own power.

Shanghai People's Commune

Finally in February the "Shanghai People's Commune" was established. It declared the "new organization of regional national power" formed only of the working classes excluding the power of Party committees and the people's committees.

But the Shanghai People's Commune couldn't get the approval of the Party Central Committee because of the "February Resistance". That old movement and the Cultural Revolution Authority had a hot argument about the methods of the Cultural Revolution. The members of the Politburo got angry because the Cultural Revolution Authority had established the Shanghai People's Commune without the approval of the Politburo in spite of it being of great national concern. They blamed the Cultural Revolution Authority for dropping the Party, government, factories, and even the countryside into confusion. But Mao condemned the members and Zhou. Kang Sheng declared this was a rehearsal for a coup d'etat and said that the Politburo were plotting to revive capitalism. After that the central Politburo stopped their work, and the Cultural Revolution Authority took the position of the Politburo.

Although Mao condemned the Party's leaders for being against the revolution, he adopted their opinions. And ultimately the Shanghai People's Commune was turned into the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee under the instructions of Mao.

China in Chaos (1967)

China in Chaos

The criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities" drove uncountable party leaders into the battle of criticism and, once beaten, confined to rob them of their rights. Consequently Party and government organizations couldn't work and social order had dropped into chaos. But Lin Biao, Jiang Qing, and the other members were not satisfied with even such a condition. They made plausible excuses to create a lot of subsequent troubles.

Criticism against "Traitor"

From March and April in 1967, a campaign to expose traitors and revolutionary criticism began. They named many old revolutionaries "traitor", encouraging Red Guards to beat them. It was the overthrow of Liu Shaoqi that the most important aim. Lin Biao and Jiang Qing condemned him, saying that he had had prisoners released in 1936 against Mao's instructions.

First Lin Biao and Jiang Qing organized a special group to invent past incidents. And they used media coverage to insert the criticism against Liu Shaoqi on paper, by which they encouraged people to take part in the campaign of revolutionary criticism. Liu got angry against the many invented criticisms and protested, but it was not accepted. Liu had already lost even his right to plead. And the aim of the criticism was also turned against his wife, Wang Guangmei. She was criticized for her clothes when she visited a foreign country with Liu, and an experience of having been to the United States was seen as capitalist-roader.

Lin Baio, Jiang Qing and the other members of the Cultural Revolution Authorities brought many historical problems to the fore again, made up stories, and tried to rob Party leader's of their rights by inventing false charges against them. Although such a movement occurred in Beijing, it rapidly spread all over China. Its target was expanded, and the means of defeating leaders got crueler. And they not only displayed slogans, but also used real weapons.

Wuhan Incident (July, 1968)

Wuhan Incident

And in July 1968, a battle involving many soldiers and people occurred in Wuhan. In Wuhan the authority of the Party Committee had already been lost through the downfall of official leaders in January. Consequently the military authority became a core of authority at Wuhan. The Cultural Revolution Authority considered this a plot, and so didn't trust them.

The Cultural Revolution Authority encouraged the people to fight the military authority of Wuhan. The people of Wuhan divided into one group supporting the military authority, called "Million Heroes", and rebels supported by the Cultural Revolution Authority, called "the Wuhan Worker's General Headquarters", and the battle got more and more violent. Party and governmental organizations stopped functioning, and almost all factories stopped their work, dropping the social life into chaos. To deal with such a condition, past officials of Wuhan, Mao, Zhou, and members of the Cultural Revolution Authority came forward. But at the same time past officials and the Cultural Revolution Authority supported "the Wuhan Worker's General Headquarters".

The "Million Heroes" grew angry and feelings exploded on 20 July. The people of the "Million Heroes" and some of the military authorities took one of the past officials, interrogated him and rebuked him sharply. And more than several hundred thousand people marched on the city and criticized the policies of the Cultural Revolution Authority.

Lin Biao and Jiang Qing viewed this as a "completely anti-revolutionary incident", and removed the person who had led the incident and brought him to trial. Soldiers and the people at Wuhan were prosecuted. On the other hand, the honor of "the Wuhan Worker's General Headquarters" was restored, thus increasing the momentum of the Cultural Revolution.

The Aftermath

After this incident, Lin Biao and Jiang Qing stirred all the Chinese people into battle. They took advantage of this incident to advertise a slogan, "Beat the capital roaders in the Military Hierarchy" in the media, and consequently many incidents occurred during which military targets all over China were attacked. Even the police and courts that should have stopped the confusion were criticized for having oppressed the people and were driven into a corner. They no longer had any power to stop the confusion. Besides, an address by Lin Biao made the situation worse, and in a lot of regions, vicious incidents like bank robberies and attacks occurred.

The Expansion of its Impact (1967 to 1968)

At Chinese Embassies

And it was not only China that was affected by the Cultural Revolution, Chinese embassies and students in foreign countries were affected as well. Chinese students shouted, "Beat the Revisionists in Moscow" and clashed violently against the army and police of the Soviet Union. The Chinese diplomacy dropped into total chaos, more than has ever been the case. Mao said about those days to Edgar Snow; "Especially July and August 1967 were terrible. Society fell into disorder".

In Economy

In 1967, the industrial and agricultural index decreased by 9.6% over the previous year, and that of 1968 was 4.2% less than 1967. Above all, the loss of politicians, free thought, in the life of the people and their possession was uncountable. But we have to remember that many communists made an effort to protect production by not giving up their work. Peasants continued their work to provide food for the people.

Revolutionary Committees

Since the take over of power in Shanghai in January 1967 the battle for power had been continued everywhere in China, and twenty-nine Revolutionary Committees had been established by September 1968. That meant that work of the Cultural Revolution taking over local authorities was in effect completed. There was a great deal of media coverage praising the establishment of so many Revolutionary Committees as the activity of the Revolution advanced along the steps of battle, criticism and reform.

The CCP was the main power heading the work of the revolution, so without the direction of the Party the unity could not be achieved. Against the power of the CCP, Mao said to the people "Boycott the party committees, " throwing the organization of each level into confusion and stopped the work of many party members. But he was forced to depend on the organized power of the CCP in order to achieve his personal goal, "confusion of society". On the other hand, it was also one of the important problems for Mao that the party organization shouldn't return to normal before the Cultural Revolution was complete. Holding CCP plenary meetings and the National Party Congress was necessary for that.

Criticism against Liu Shoqi (Oct, 1968-)

Preparation for Ninth Congress; removing Liu Shoqi

The Cultural Revolution Authority prepared its leadership for the Ninth Congress. Members like Lin Biao and Jiang Qing showed their intention to assume greater power by taking advantage of the Ninth Congress and excluding the old revolutionaries. The main work of preparing for the Ninth Congress was "settling the problem of Liu Shoqi". In 1966, a special group was established in secret under the guidance of members like Kang Sheng and Jiang Qing, to Judge Liu Shoqi. They invented past crimes and forced him to confess, charging him with "becoming a traitor".

Indeed, Liu was caught in 1925, but there was no fact that he had gone to the other side. This guess was just an invention made up by members like Jiang Qing. It was clear that they intended to drive Liu to death by making up false charges.

Liu was one of the main leaders in the CCP. Although all his rights were taken away, he was still a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. So a formal procedure was needed to defeat Liu thoroughly and it had to be done by the Ninth National People's Congress. Therefore in October 1968, Mao held a congress. This congress proceeded under abnormal conditions, in that some member of the Political Bureau had been deprived of their rights to attend the congress, a few members had been freed illegal detention, and some members had been falsely criticized.

In this congress, the opinions of the special group were adopted, i.e. "To remove the name of Liu Shaoqi from the CCP permanently, and that subsequently there should be an investigation into the betrayal of the nation and the CCP by Liu and the others". Several old revolutionaries questioned the decisions, but they were shouted down. Not only Liu was damaged. The number of cases judged "anti-revolutionary" reached 26,000, and about 28,000 people were involved.

After the congress, the campaign of revolutionary criticism against "the removal of anti-revolutionary ideas in support of capitalism carried out by members like Liu in the CCP" was carried out again. It was clear that the criticism against Liu. Was being used as a propaganda vehicle for the ideas against the Cultural Revolution. The members of the Cultural Revolution Authority like Qing advertised the revolutionary criticism campaign in various ways. They used the media, expanding the distorting the facts, as they liked and criticizing ideas by making up history.

Such a campaign of revolutionary criticism went against the procedures and policy of the CCP, ruined the benefits which all the people had won through the leadership of the CCP and destroyed the good tradition of the CCP, bringing confusion in the fields of politics, theory, thought and so on.

Ninth Congress (April, 1969)


In October 1968, Mao was already thinking of how he could close "the Cultural Revolution" on condition that rebels could claim victory. He wished to convene the Ninth Congress, and successfully claim authority for the best organization of the CCP, the reconstruction of the organizations of each of the categories of the Party, taking advantage of the power of the Party and calming the confusion of the Cultural Revolution. The Ninth Congress was held under these conditions. But the fire that had been kindled during the Cultural Revolution could not be extinguished so easily. The two groups under Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, which had assumed enormous powers during the Cultural Revolution, didn't wish for the end of the Cultural Revolution. And new battles appeared again.

Ninth Congress

The establishment of Revolutionary Committees everywhere somehow calmed down the confusion in society, and led to a relatively steady atmosphere. But the international outlook before the Ninth Congress was dramatic. The United States military intervention in South Vietnam had increased since 1965, and North Vietnam had come under bomb attacks, enflaming the South Gate of China. A peace negotiation was held after the victory of North Vietnam, and the flames burned lower, but had not been completely put out yet. The South Gate was not peaceful.

In addition, the relationship between China and the Soviet Union grew tense and border incidents occurred that sometimes led to bloodshed. In March 1969 just before the Ninth Congress, there were some serious, bloody, military skirmishes. They were the worst incidents ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Many top ranking government leaders and the CCP were shocked by these incidents, and were concerned about the consequences. These incidents brought fears of the inevitability World War closer. So preparing for the war was an important subject for discussion at the Ninth Congress, but it also had an influence on policy, and had a great influence on various aspects of life in China.

From April 1 until 24 in 1969, the CCP held the Ninth Congress in Beijing. 1512 representatives of 22 million communists attended the congress. Those delegates were mainly the leaders of Revolutionary Committees and "rebels" and PLA supporting leftists. Some rebels entered the CCP hastily and some became delegates not through a democratic procedure. And the way of holding the congress was far from that of the Eighth Congress. Delegates were not informed in advance of the date of the congress, guests from foreign countries were not invited and reporters were not allowed to report freely. After arriving in Beijing, delegates were not allowed to go out, and telephone. When the congress was held, the delegates entered the place of meeting silently. This kind of behavior had never been seen in the CCP's history in any country.

At the beginning of the congress, Mao was elected Chairman, and Lin Biao gave the political report as the vice-Chairman. This report described the preparation and progress of the Cultural Revolution, and discussed how the Socialist Revolution should benefit from the experience of the Cultural Revolution. The reports covered a great number of pages, added the false comments on the history of the CCP, inventing reasons to explain the need for carrying out the Cultural Revolution. Despite a lot of reforms the CCP was undergoing, the reports did not tell the truth. And the reports ignored the development of production that is a fundamental role in Socialism, not considering the economical poverty of many people and the unstable politics. They demanded that "going through battle, criticism and reform" should be the core of the CCP's work as well as "learning Maoism and making the most of it in activities". Apart from such an armchair policy, there was nothing in the reports mentioning how production should be developed, nor were there any decisions made about the strategy and plan of economic development at all. This was against the demands and wishes of all the people and Party.

The congress adopted the "Chinese Communist Party Rule". This ruling agreed that "the Cultural Revolution" was "a political revolution in which Proletarians resist Bourgeois and the other exploiting classes". This rule described Maoism in the following way: "Maoism is Marxist-Leninism of the time when imperialism is going to be destroyed and Socialism will be victorious in the world". This was clearly a subjective exaggeration of Maoism. This rule regarded the formation and development of Maoism as the achievement of Mao, and negated the role of the Party and the excellent progress achieved like mass instruction. And the rule withdrew Party members' rights, and made a decision that most party members have just duty but no rights. At the same time, a rule that only a few members could have rights was passed. During the congress, the members of the party's central committee were elected. It was composed of "the Cultural Revolution Authorities" which included Mao as the core member, Lin, Jiang, Kang and so on, and "Old government" typified by Zhou. The contrast was clear.

The Ninth Congress was carried out in the enthusiastic atmosphere of the cult of Mao from start to finish. And the political direction and party rule adopted in the congress justified the Cultural Revolution, and strengthened the position of the group of Lin and Jiang. The ambitions of the groups of Lin and Jiang were partly realized, but not completely satisfied. The Cultural Revolution didn't turn toward the end as Mao had expected. The two groups under Lin and Jiang grasped as much power as possible on the civic and local level, and the battle between the groups grew harsher, which made matters worse. And consequently much more people were caught up in the disaster by that.

The Period of Winter (1968 to 1969)

The Period of Winter

After the Ninth Congress, the "battle, criticism and reform" campaign was carried out on the basis of the role that Mao suggested. Among the various policies, a slogan of "chop away criticism" was emphasized heavily. Not only did the contents go against all the important work, policies and rules which had been carried out until the Cultural Revolution violently and arbitrarily interrupted them, but also described them all as "Revisionism and Capitalism". In the economic sphere, ways to make company profits high were regarded as "property to profit".

Considering the material lives of the masses was labeled as "Revisionist", and studying the high technology of foreign countries and managerial experience was looked on as "a Cult of the West" and "being influenced by foreign countries".

In terms of education and science, it was regarded as "stupid" and to be criticized when teachers made an effort to improve the quality of lessons, and students studied science and culture and scientists carried out research.

In terms of culture and art, almost all the activities and works of culture and art that had been made since the Republic was established was regarded as "Feudalism, Capitalist and Revisionism".

The direct effect of this criticism led to turn the people's trust against the CCP and communists, making antigovernment tendencies stronger and had a great impact on production, scientific research, education and culture. In this way, winter came to China. During this horrible period, freedom of thought was not allowed and the people were silent.

The detailed events of the campaign of "battle, criticism and reform" include some of the following. After Lin, Jiang and the other members established Revolutionary Committees in each province, city and autonomous area, they demanded that greater numbers of Revolutionary Committees should be established in local areas, in each factory, school, commune and so on. Mao tried to stop the confusion in the Cultural Revolution, but at each Revolutionary Committee the factions got more excessive and the scramble for authority and profit became more serious. Revolutionary Committees said to be the new system of the Cultural Revolution couldn't meet the objective demand.

"Purifying class,” demanded that traitors, bosses, landowners, rich peasants, capitalists and counterrevolutionaries should be purged. But there was no rule to distinguish "class enemies". Because the most basic democracy and law had been broken down, human rights were not guaranteed, the judiciary was completely destroyed, a lot of groups could arbitrarily purge persons who they regarded as "class enemies", imprison and interrogate them. Moreover it became popular to torture people to confess. So incidents of illegality and misjudgments could be seen everywhere in China.

The "Arrangement and reconstruction of the Party" was carried out within the Party and party organizations, which stopped their work for about three years because of the Cultural Revolution. In this campaign, the Party's entire membership was ordered to "battle against their own minds and criticize Revisionism" and the Party's organization was ordered to "pour out old things and take in new things". "Pouring out old things" was "expelling traitors and counterrevolutionaries against whom there was certain evidence from the Party". But unfortunately, "certain evidence" could be made up arbitrarily during the Cultural Revolution. "Taking in new things" was accepting "rebels of the Proletarian Revolution" and getting them be members of the CCP. This allowed people who were involved in conspiracy and violence to get into the CCP, which caused serious ideological problems in the CCP.

"Making the office work more simple and making staff do manual labor in the countryside" caused a huge reduction in clerical workers who were made to do manual labor in the country, in factories and mines. Not only did these campaigns waste much of the material and financial power of the nation, but also millions of officials were driven to disaster.


At one time after the Ninth Congress the political situation became relatively steady, and the economy advanced somewhat.

1969 was the year in which the speed of the reduction of production slowed down and the economy started to recover. Moreover the economic advance of 1970 speeded up slightly, showing a greater recovery than in 1969. And some important construction and technology advances were accomplished. The success of launching its first satellite on 24th April 1970 was China's historical accomplishment in the field of space science. And 1st July in this year, the Chenghun railroads (1803km in length) were constructed. There were many problems in its construction, but it was completed in only nine months due to the continuous effort of eight hundred and sixty thousand workers and about thirteen hundred specialists. The results of this construction clearly showed that many officials, as well as the masses considered the benefit of nation and the people more important and resisted the Cultural Revolution and contributed to the work of the construction of Socialism. Indeed, economic reconstruction was the people's deep wish.

Conflict between Jiang Qing and Lin Biao (1972)


The confusion caused by the Cultural Revolution grew worse and worse. The lawfully elected Chairman (Liu Shoaqi) was persecuted to death, and government was not working normally. Any modern nation would find it difficult to survive under these circumstances. The government needed to be rebuilt the National People's Congress reconvened.

Lin Biao

Lin Biao's group had been gradually formed through personal conspiracy since the Cultural Revolution started. Because Lin had been in the position of "sub supreme commander" at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, some the military command took his side. Its authority developed rapidly, reaching its greatest strength through congresses such as the Ninth Congress. At that point Lin's position as "successor" to Mao was formally written down in the party's rule. Besides, main members of Lin's group and many of his men were in the Politburo or central committee. Actually they had forcibly taken a great deal of power. The more the authority of Lin's group expanded, the more their conspiracy expanded too.

Conflict between Jiang Qing and Lin Bao

Conflict between Jiang Qing and Lin Bao. At the same time, Jiang's group was expanding its authority through the Ninth Congress as well. Although Jiang Qoing, Zhang Chunqio, and Yao Wenyuan didn't have any position in the CCP before, they became members of the Politburo at the Congress. They had needed the support of Lin Biao, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, but both had already been enemies, which increased their authority over each other. And as the power of Jiang's group grew, Lin awaked the fact that Jiang's group had become more powerful than his and that this might jeopardise Lin's position as "successor" to Mao. In addition he had health problems. As he felt his position to be weak, he was encouraged to resort to conspiracy.

Ambition of Lin Biao

Lin was trying to realize his plan, "of becoming chairman", taking advantage of the National People's Congress. He planned to agree outwardly that Mao should become chairman by praising him as a "genius", winning his trust and expanding his influence. And in this way Lin tried to grasp the authority, placing Mao in a position that was only a title with no power.

Although Mao had said that the position of chairman would not be set, and he would never become the chairman, Lin insisted on the subject because of his thirst for power. Such an open bid for power by Lin brought to the light the contradiction between his group and Jiang's group.

In the conflict between the two groups, Mao clearly supported Jiang's group. Mao didn't agree with "the theory of genius" for himself according to Lin, which dealt a heavy blow to Lin's group which then began to plan a coup d'tat and foolishly attempted to steal power with violence. Their destruction was coming gradually.

Lin Biao Incident (Sept, 1972)

Lin Biao Incident

Lin decided to kill Mao during his journey and carry out a coup d'etat after that. On the other hand, the CCP and Mao were on their guard against Lin's group, and took measures to defend themselves from them. Lin attempted to destroy the train that Mao was in and kill him by destroying the railroad or bombing it from an aero plane at a small station in the suburbs of Shanghai. But having noticed a situation of danger, Mao took steps to deal with that properly, and he was able to stop the conspiracy of Lin.

Lin found the plan failed, while trying to establish a second government at Guangzhou in the south. But the police also noticed the plan, and Zhou Enlai took rapid measures. Lin, having found his conspiracy thwarted, took off in his aero plane out of China not considering the lack of crew.

When Zhou heard that the aero plane had taken off, he immediately informed Mao, and gave orders that no aero plane should be allowed to take off anywhere in China. Mao decided not to stop the escape of Lin, and the aeroplane reached Mongolia. But it was forced to make an emergency crash landing after running out of fuel and it was burned on the ground. All the men of Lin's group were tried and killed. It was an empty ending for a man who had wielded power before.

Meaning of the Incident

This incident in which Lin, a high ranking leader in the CCP, had attempted conspiracy and planed a coup d'etat to kill a top leader had great significance. The rapid measures taken proved that the Party, the people and armed forces would not allow such incidents to occur. The destruction of Lin's group meant the victory of party and the people.

But tracing the root of such an incident, it can be seen as the result of basic rule of law, which survived during the Cultural Revolution. During five years in the Cultural Revolution, the party's leadership had weakened more than had ever been the case and democracy and law and order were destroyed. Battling for authority was justified, and the whole nation was driven into severe confusion. Such a situation allowed the formation and expansion of Lin's group, and permitted them persevere in a foolhardy plan. The people saw that Lin, who had done most to promote the Cult of the Individual, had planned to kill Mao, and the man who had been nominated as Mao's successor had betrayed his homeland to escape.

These incredible facts made the people start to harbor doubts. Was the Cultural Revolution necessary? What effect did the Cultural Revolution eventually have on the Party and nation? The people could not help thinking seriously about these doubts. This incident involving Lin urged many officers and to sober up the enthusiastic cult of the individual, and it made the doubts and dissatisfaction against the Cultural Revolution grow. In this sense, this incident became a turning point in the history of the Cultural Revolution.

The Aftermath of the Lin Biao Incident (Oct, 1972-)

The Aftermath of the Lin Biao Incident

The Lin Biao affair made the failures and practices of the Cultural Revolution (CR) clear, and at the same time it was also the historical turning point to modify the errors of the CR and return China to a normal way of life. The normal power of the CCP tried to grasp this historical point and make the revolution of the Chinese go forward well. But unfortunately, Mao didn't learn the lesson of the Lin Biao affair, and missed this historical opportunity. And once Lin's group had vanished, Qing grasped more power and grew increasingly ambitious. His group caused troubles constantly, having a great impact on the power of the party and government.

Indeed the Lin Biao affair was very serious, and could have had a great impact, but the impact was checked minimally because Mao took the proper measure with the help of Zhou. And in September 1971, the CCP served notice about the rebellion of Lin, and the CCP took back the leadership of the armed forces, which had been seized by Lin's group. The CCP also established a special task group to examine the affair thoroughly.

After the CCP had adopted these measures, the Chinese people were informed about the fall of Lin Biao. All the committees, the army and the people were surprised at the news, and they were furious about the rebellion of Lin Biao. And they agreed to all the measures the CCP took. From December 1971, the CCP proceeded with a "criticize Lin" campaign, in which the CCP encouraged people to expose Lin's mistakes and criticize him, and examined persons and affairs concerning Lin's conspiracy.

This campaign calmed the enthusiasm of the leftists, and led to somewhat effective results. But the effects were limited because the campaign went forward under the assumption that the CR had been affirmed.

Mao himself learned some lessons from the Lin Biao affair, and arranged some new policies. But he didn't awake to the mistakes of the CR, so he didn't bring the CR to an end.

The Reform by Zhou Enlai (1972-1973)


After the fall of Lin, it was Zhou who controlled the Party's political work under the instruction of Mao. He made the greatest effort to modify the mistakes of the leftists and bring about a good opportunity to work in each field.

Liberation for the Veteran Bureaucrats

First, he liberated the veteran bureaucrats who had been persecuted by Qing and Lin, and re-appointed them. He had been protesting about their persecution in various ways since the CR started. And the occurrence of the Lin Biao affair changed Mao's attitude to the veteran bureaucrats. Zhou ordered People's Daily to publish an article about the Party's new policy about bureaucrats in April 1972.

In the article, he criticized sectionalism and said that veteran bureaucrats were the precious fortune of the Party. The article had a great influence, so a lot of veteran bureaucrats, specialists and professors were liberated from confinement, criticism, judgment and struggle. Consequently they were able to work again.

In this time, the honor of many top leaders was redeemed and a lot of leaders who had been forced to do manual labor in the countryside and robbed of their work were put back in their position as leaders again. Above all, it was the revival of Deng Xiaoping in March 1973, which had the greatest effect. Finally he returned to the political stage thanks to the efforts of Zhou and Mao's reconsideration.

Reform of Economy

Zhou was also making efforts to improve the national economy. First, from about 1972 he suggested the establishment of basic rules and systems and the reformation of companies in serious confusion. And he started to import technology and plants that had been interrupted for a long time. These measures increased China's productivity and became a great role for the improvement of its technological level. Consequently, the industrial output of 1972 increased by 6.6% compared with the previous year, and in 1973 it was 9.5% greater than in 1972.

And in the countryside, the reform also proceeded. In December 1973, the CCP gave instructions about the problem of distribution of the People's Communes. And detailed measures about individual income, the reduction of the peasant's burden, rationing and so on were decided. A lot of peasants and officers welcomed these. In 1972 output of production was not increased because of natural calamities, but that of 1973 was 8.4% greater than the previous year.

Visit of Nixon

In terms of foreign policy, great development was made. The CR had a serious impact on the international opinion of China and its diplomatic relations, but diplomatic relations between China and USA, Japan and the Western countries was improved and developed by the decisions of Mao and Zhou after the end of the Ninth Congress. In October 1973, China was given a formal seat in the United Nations. And in February in 1972, President Nixon visited China dramatically. On 27 February, China and USA announced a joint declaration in Shanghai and the eventual normalization of diplomatic relations.

In September 1972, Japanese Minister, Kakuei Tanaka was invited by Zhou, and visited China. And on 29 September, diplomatic relations between China and Japan were restored formally. During twenty seven months, from the visit of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to 1972, China established or restored diplomatic relations with forty-one countries such as Canada, Italy, Austria, Turkey, and so on. This improvement of its foreign relations destroyed the blockade of the West and the abnormal national isolation of China, and a basis for the development of new diplomatic structures was established.

Improvement by Zhou Enlai

During the two years after the fall of Lin, Qing's group was obstructive and destructive. But according to the proper measures of Zhou with Mao's support and the active work of many officers and the masses, social order and production were improved during the year of 1972 and 1973. These upturns were, however, interrupted and destroyed soon. The failure of the leftists was not corrected; the disaster of the CR continued to expand.

Tenth Congress and the Rise of Gang of Four (Oct, 1973)

Tenth Congress

From August 24 to 28, Mao held the Tenth National Congress in Beijing The purpose of this congress was for Zhou to report back on political developments, Wang Hongwen reported back on the reform of the Party's rule and the members of the Central Committee were elected.

In the political report by Zhou, the conspiracy of Lin was further exposed and criticized. This criticism was a meaningful lesson for the party, but it was still "continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat" that was emphasized. In the reform of the Party's rule, rules were not much reformed except that a part about "Lin Biao will be the successor of Mao" was removed. The members of Central Committee were added with the veteran bureaucrats who had been persecuted for a long time. But those who followed Qing's group were also elected as the members.

The Tenth Congress solved some problems, but in general it followed the failure of Ninth Congress. "Continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat" was still called for. Under such a false policy, the CR could not help but continue.

Moreover, Qing Jiang, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen formed the "Gang of Four", and their power grew. That enabled them to be in an advantageous condition to get the highest leadership of party and government.

Campaign by the Gang of Four

On 25 January 1974, Qing gathered more than ten thousand peoples of Party and national organizations and held a "Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius" movement in Beijing. This was criticism against Lin and Confucius, the most famous educator and scholar. Qing used the two people as examples of traitors for their own advantage. In the movement, Qing and Yao made a speech saying it made a fool of the people.

After the meeting, Qing said proudly "I didn't invite to Zhou to this meeting at all". And she tried to broadcast recording of this meeting to all of China, but no sooner had Mao known that than he stopped this plan. Mao criticized her as this movement was excessive, but he didn't control their movement. The matter of this movement was spread all over China via various routes, and there was a lot of conflict as people quarreled with each other over the slogan of "Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius" was spread.

In those days, the "Gang of Four" brought about several kinds of curious incidents. The purpose was to criticize Zhou and the veteran bureaucrats. So they interpreted trivial things as they liked and used them as a criticism against Zhou and the veteran bureaucrats. But Mao saw through their intentions. He said, "Jiang is conspiring".

From early 1974, Mao criticized the "Gang of Four" several times, and he left Deng with important works. That indicated that although Mao was old and sick he was thinking of how to deal with the important work of the Party and government. That had a great effect on the fall of the conspiracy

Rise and Fall of Deng Xiaoping (1975)

Revival of Deng Xiaoping

In the early year of 1975, Deng Xiaoping was elected to the most important position in the party, government, and military. The reason was, of course, concerned with his excellent talents. But the historical background was also a decisive factor. First, because Zhou was ill in bed in those days, it was necessary to elect another person who could take over from him. And although Mao had some complaints about Deng, he valued him highly on the whole. Therefore Deng came back again. The news gave hope to a lot of people and party's members, and it was a light barely seen in the long night of the CR.

On January 13-17 in 1975, the Fourth National People's Congress was held in Beijing. In this congress, there was personal change that put Zhou and Deng on the core of position. And the grand goal, the establishment of "a powerful modern socialist country" was suggested. The leftists also influenced this congress, but it made a great advance towards the "modernization of agriculture, industry, national defense and science and technology", which as a goal had a great impact on the "Gang of Four" and made the masses more active.

In less than one year after Deng began to work in the CCP, good results began to appear in each sector including industry and agriculture. Because of the great efforts of Deng and some support for Deng by Mao, the people made an effort to produce. As a result, the condition of 1975 was clearly improved. In most areas, the social order began to go forward and the national economy was also improved. The total output of industry and agriculture was 11.9% greater than in 1974. Of course there were some problems around the financial deficit and workers increases, but the national economy began to recover and develop gradually.

The fall of Deng Xiaoping

But there was a great contradiction between the modernization in each sector and the policies being carried out during the CR. Indeed it was indispensable to correct the false policies in the CR, but if the mistakes of the CR were corrected, it could not avoid the harsh objection of not only the "Gang of Four", but also Mao. Such severe contradictions finally exploded in November 1975 with the "criticize Deng Xiaoping and counterattack the powers of the rightists" movement. This movement was started under the instructions of Mao. He heard bad rumors about Deng from his liaison officer, Mao Yuanxin, and believed them blindly.

In February 1976, the CCP gathered persons in charge of each province and city, and gave them "important instructions". In these instructions, Mao criticized him harshly as Deng was neglecting an important aspect, the battle with the class enemy. In March, this "important instruction" was spread all over the China.

Death of Zhou Enlai and the Tiananmen Incident (1976)

The Death of Zhou Enlai

At this moment, a shining star on which the peoples' hope depended on, fell. It was the death of Zhou Enlai. On January 8, 1976, Zhou Enlai, an important leader of China, the founder of the People's Liberation Army and an excellent revolutionary and politician, died. During the CR, he worked for the party and government. Therefore, his death brought great grief to all the people.

During the funeral for Zhou, the "Gang of Four" prevented the people from taking part in activities to pay respect to Zhou. Not only did they forbid the spontaneous activity of the Party, but they also controlled the media not to report the sympathy of the people. And on January 11, millions of people gave the funeral car of Zhou a deeply felt send-off, helping each other and shedding tears. The masses were never allowed to be shown the articles. These dirty tricks enraged a lot of people.

Students and people in Nanjing near Shanghai moved into action first. On 20 and 28 of March, a lot of students, workers and citizens mourned for Zhou Enlai and demonstrated against the "Gang of Four". And they put up slogans criticizing the "Gang of Four" everywhere. And at the end of March and beginning of April, a lot of masses in each city including Xi'and and Hang Zhou demonstrated to pay respect to their dead Premier, stopping the interference by the "Gang of Four".

Tiananmen Incident

The people in Beijing gathered spontaneously in Tiananmen Square from the end of March. They showed feelings of sympathy for Zhou Enlai and criticized the "Gang of Four" harshly by devoting wreathes in front of a cenotaph of the People's Hero, putting up posters, reading poetry and making speeches. A lot of poems included strong feelings and political meaning, singing about the inner feelings of the people.

The "Gang of Four" feared this movement, so they tried to interrupt it as much as possible. On April 2, the "Gang of Four" phoned in the name of the CCP, and criticized the mass movement in Nanjing. And they demanded that organizations in each area should be cautious about the expansion of the people. At the same time, they ordered each organization to inform the people that they should not go to Tiananmen Square to mourn Zhou. But once the rage of masses has been enflamed it cannot be suppressed easily.

On April 4, the movement of the people reached its peak. Hundreds of thousands of citizens coming from Beijing and the other local area gathered in Tiananmen Square, taking no notice of the prohibition in those days. They were in high spirits, complicated against the "Gang of Four".

The Tiananmen movement was an expression of all the people's protest demonstrations. And it was brought about under the Party's leadership including the "Four Modernizations". Of course, this movement expressed the rage of the people against the "Gang of Four", but at the same time it clearly expressed

The Aftermath of the Tiananmen Incident (April, 1976)

Despotism of Gang of Four

After the Tiananmen Incident was judged falsely, a lot of the Party members and the people were suppressed, and the "Gang of Four" lived under the delusion that they had won. They got more active and proceeded actively to seize power. And they put articles criticizing Deng Xiaoping in newspapers and magazines constantly.

In 1976, not only the political situation deteriorated, but also the year had disasters and news of death one after another. On July 6, one of the founders of the People's Liberation Army, Zhu De died. During the CR, some people including Lin and Jiang persecuted Zhu. But fortunately, Mao protected him. All the people mourned the death of Zhu.

Massive Earthquakes

And on July 28, 1976, quite massive earthquakes struck North China, Tangshan, and the tremors even reached Beijing. They conditions Tangshang was extremely tragic, the death toll reached about two hundred and fifty thousand people, and about one hundred and sixty thousand peoples were seriously wounded. Such an earthquake was rare in the history of China; it was the most massive one in the 20th century in the world.

While the people were badly hurt by the earthquake and aid was pouring in to the people of Tangshan actively, the "Gang of Four" was expressing other feelings. Not only did they not have any concern for the suffering of the people, but also they said, "it wouldn't matter if Tangshang disappeared". Due to such interference by the "Gang of Four", the kindness of foreign countries that offered help were all refused.

During this time, the "Gang of Four" criticized documents drafted by Deng as if they were "poison". The documents mentioned the problems about the development of industry and technology, which were criticized by the "Gang of Four", as they were a "plot for the restoration of capitalism". The "Gang of Four" was against the people, and a lot of officers and ordinary people grew angry with them. Some people said, "if our nation took these documents, our nation would be better".

Death of Mao and the fall of the Gang of Four (Oct, 1976)

Death of Mao

Under these conditions society began to be confused again, and, on September 9 1976, the founder of China and its leader, Mao Zedong, died. Even though he committed a mistake with the Cultural Revolution, he is still a hero who established China for the people. All the Party organizations, the armed forces and the people grieved the death of Mao.

The death of Mao worsened the serious political crisis, which already existed, for the "Gang of Four" was plotting to weaken military power. Hardly had Mao died when the "Gang of Four" made efforts to weaken the supreme power of the Party and government. The "Gang of Four" tried to make Shanghai a base to weaken the leadership of the CCP and government, and they ordered their subordinates to prepare for that.

The veteran bureaucrats were disturbed about overt activities by the "Gang of Four", who were plotting to deprive party and government of their power. In October, the activity of the "Gang of Four" became even more public. They made speeches to promote the CR in universities and local areas.

The Fall of Gang of Four

The CCP decided to take a decisive measure immediately. The measure was to hold a Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, make Yao take part in the committee and deal with Jiang in another way. On October 6, Hua Guofeng held the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, carried out judgment and execution on Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan separately, and sent a man to Jiang, to carry out the judgment and execution likewise. They took the same measures with some of the subordinates in Beijing. It took less than thirty minutes to carry this out, and the "Gang of Four" was destroyed without even one shot being fired. At the same time, they seized the mass media, which the "Gang of Four" had seized. In the night, a congress was held, in which Hua Guofeng was appointed chairman.

A day after that, knowing that the "Gang of Four" had been imprisoned, their subordinates in Shanghai held a meeting immediately and tried to rebel. The CCP sent officers to Shanghai to suppress the movement. Besides, their rebellion received strong resistance from a lot of officers and the people, and the conspiracy fell.

On October 14, the CCP published the facts of the destruction of the "Gang of Four". The whole of China was overjoyed, people told each other the news and drank to the victory. Alcohol was sold out in a lot of areas. Between 21st and 30th October, enormous congregations and parades were seen everywhere in China, and people celebrated victory for the destruction of the "Gang of Four".

End of the Cultural Revolution

The victory for the destruction of the "Gang of Four" saved the Party from a crisis and it led the disastrous Cultural Revolution to an end. In this way, China took a step forward into a new historical development.


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