China 1949-76- control of the people


Divisions in the CCP

  • Ideologue- someone who gives high priority to theoretical ideas
  • Pragmatist- someone who takes the necessary action to produce the required results
  • Mao withdrew from public life after the 7000-cadre conference and left Liu and Deng in charge
  • Liu and Deng agreed that ideologival compromises were necessary to get China's economy back on track
  • Mao tried to hit back at the pragmatists by launching the Socialist Education Movement in 1963, which preached a collective economic approach and aimed to root out corruption among rural cadres
1 of 17

Quest for permanent revolution

  • Mao was worried that people would slip back into old attitudes
  • He believed that Khrushchev betrayed the revolution by taking de-Stalinisation too far
  • He wanted the younger generation to have direct expreience of revolutionary struggle
  • Liu prevented the Socialist Education Movement from becoming another mass mobilisation effort by keeping it under control
2 of 17

Attacks on bureaucracy

  • Mao feared that the new bureaucracy was becoming a self-satisfied elite
  • urban intelletuals and bureaucrats had to run the country because they were the only people who were educated enough to do so
  • Mao wanted to run a new rectification campiagn to root out complacency and corruption from the ranks of the Party
3 of 17

Mao's hold on young people

  • Mao knew that plunging young people into revolutionary activity would help ensure the long-term survival of communism in China
  • By the 1960s, carrying a copy of The Little Red Book was a necessity and it was common to turn to it to find a Mao-approved resolution to any argument
  • Mao's COP made young people see Mao as the heroic figure who had freed China from a century of foreign domination
  • Mao's call to students to 'Bombard the Headquarters' in his wall poster of August 1966 was therefore greeted enthusiastically by students
  • Joining a Red Guard unit gave young people from more middle-class families a chance to prove by their actions that they were true Communists and therefore deserving of better job oppurtunities
4 of 17

Mass rallies of 1966

  • The first mass rally was in Beijing on 18th August 1966
  • chaos and violence spread across China as the Red Guards eagerly went out to do Lin Biao's bidding by smashing the 'four olds' of old ideas, customs, habits and culture
  • free rail passes made it easier for Red Guards to attend rallies and enabled them to travel further in 'revolutionary tourism'- the chance to see more of China
  • staging the rally on such a colossal scale ensured that a genuine sense of solidarity was created
5 of 17

Attacks on the four olds

  • catagories of the 'four olds' were kept vague so that Mao could stretch them to his convenience
  • Correction statements for Western clothing and hairstyles were set up on street corners
  • Some people adopted new names such as 'Red Hero' to reflect their values
  • houses were ransacked in search of bourgeois possessions such as jewellry and musical instuments
  • Clergy who had survived previous persecutions were rounded up and imprisoned
  • It was expected that children would inform the Red Guards of parents or relatives who clung to old attitudes
  • These measures were not permanent in removing values such as worship of the dead, as shown bu the thousands of mourners who turned out in 1976 for the Festival of the Dead Ceremony- Mao was still alive at this time
6 of 17

Growth of anarchy and the use of terror

  • Ministry of Public Security passed on names of members of the bad classes to the Red Guard
  • In the Trial of the Gang of Four 1980, they were accused of having sanctioned the deaths of over half a million people
  • splits and rivaliries, particularly in Shanghai, degenerated into chaotic fighting between factions in January 1967- the January Storm
  • Mao failed to give a decisive lead and the PLA took matters into their own hands in the February Crackdown
  • Mao realised that undermining the PLA would make them unable to defend the country and therefore authorised them to crackdown on radical groups as needed
7 of 17

Cultural Destruction

  • Red Guards destroyed 2/3 of 7000 places of historical and cultural importance in Beijing
  • They also broke into over 100,000 homes in search of 'old' artefacts
  • Zhou Enlai prevented them from attacking the Forbidden City by bringing in a PLA unit to defend it
  • They attacked the Confucius' home town Qufu and spent four weeks vandalising books, paintings, statues, graves and monuments with connections to Confucius
8 of 17

Attacks on Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping

  • By late 1964, Mao was accusing Liu of taking the 'capitalist high road' and Deng acting indepentently
  • Mao had the support of the PLA, Jiang Qing and the Shanghai radicals
  • They both appeared at the rally on 18th August with Mao, but stood in the background
  • They were both formally dismissed in Ocotber 1966 following a Red Guard demonstration directed at them
  • Liu and his wife were dragged from their house and beaten by a jeering mob before being imprisoned in conditions deliberately chosen to worse his pre-exisiting health conditions. he died in November 1969
  • Deng was subjected to public humiliation before being sent to perform corrective labour in a tractor factory
9 of 17

Attacks on Lin Biao

  • Lin was the principle architecht of the personality cult, and the PLA played a huge part in the mass 1966 rallies
  • He endorsed what Mao said and flattered him, but rarely took initiative after 1966
  • he often used health problems to explain why he delegated so many tasks to others
  • Mao's decision to remove him was because he became too popular
  • Mao began by undermining Lin's allies and then posted them elsewhere
  • The official version of events is that Lin and his son were planning an asassination attempt on Mao- in reality, it is unknown the extent of Lin's involvement
  • Mao was worried that Lin being removed would cause public disbelief about the regime, so his removal was not announced until 1972
10 of 17

Purging of the CCP membership

  • Only nine of the 23 Politburo members of 1966 held onto their posts
  • 70% of provincial and regional officers were purged
  • 20% of local Party officials were purged
  • In the January Revolution, the very existence of the CCP seemed in the balance due to militant factory and office workers forming their own Red Guard and overthrowing Party leadership in Shanghai
  • In October 1968 Mao declared the Cultural Revolution a 'great success' to the full Central Committee and it was declared over in 1969
11 of 17

Purging 'Capitalist roaders' and foreigners

  • Capitalist roader- anyone percieved as clinging to a capitalist mindset
  • attacks were focused in urban areas, where staff of every factory, office, shop and school were subjected to scrutiny, in case their lifestyle of background could be considered bourgeois
  • this led to serious fall in industriall production, which was down by 13% in 1967-68
  • Foreign emabssies and their staff were attacked by the Red Guards 
  • In August 1967, a mob of Red Guards broke into the British Embassy in Beijing, physically attacking the staff
12 of 17

Restoration of order by the PLA

  • Mao decided to clamp down on the Red Guards in 1967
  • He ordered the rival Red Guard and workers' factions to form an alliance to stop fighting each other
  • PLA began a full-scale purge of the Red Guards, disbanding the last Red Guard unit and closing down their newspaper by the end of 1968
  • PLA also had to re-establish discipline of schools and unis, which had been shut for two years-  this had a huge effect on urban unemployment
13 of 17

'Up to the mountains and down to the villages' cam

  • new rustication programme involved the compulsory movement of 5 million young people from the cities to the countryside between 1968 and 1970
  • it dispersed former Red Guards to where they couldn't cause trouble
  • hardened the new class of young urban intellectuals and bureaucrats by introducing them to manual labour
  • rural condituons were lower than what they were used to
  • those hwo had served in the Red Guard became disillusioned with Mao
14 of 17

Return of Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai

  • Although he often got into trouble, Zhoe enlai was never purged because he was far too useful to Mao
  • Zhou used the uncertainty of how to label Liao's treachery to revive his call for the Four Modernisations- a pragmatic programme to develop agriculture, industry, defence and education on a more systematic basis
  • Zhou played the key role in facilitating US President Nixon's visit to China in 1972
  • He managed to get Deng brought back into the fold in 1973, even after being labelled a 'capitalist roader'
  • However, Deng was purged again in 1976, by which time Mao's health had deteriorated
15 of 17

Reining in the Gang of Four

  • the continued to exert influence on the direction of events through their domination of the CCRG
  • they launched their anti-Confucius campaign to discredit Lin in 1973 and extended it to anyone with a moderate outlook, including Zhou and Deng
  • the Gang of Four called for a boycott of Western technology and renewal of the People's Communes
  • they turned a supposedly low-key memorial service for Zhou into a huge, violent demonstartion in Tiananmen Square, in favour of moderate policies and attacking the Gang of Four
16 of 17

The death of Mao, 1976

  • Mao died in September 1976, but his health had been servely in decline since the fall of lin Biao since 1971
  • he had lung infections made worse by years of smoking that were affecting his heart, and he may have been suffering with Parkinson's disease
  • He was dependent on mass injections of drugs that rendered him comatose most of the time from 1973
  • The succession was unclear, as Mao wanted Wang to succeed him but it was clear that he was too influenced by Jiang Qing
17 of 17


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all China in the 20th century resources »