Hundred Flowers Campaign (HFC) (1956-1957)

A summary of the campaign and some ideas as to Moa's intentions

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'to let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend' - speech made to the Politburo in April 1956

wanted to encourage debate in art, literature and science - this would promote progress in these fields - the clashing of new ideas would create improvements

Feb 1957 - due to changes in Europe critism began to spread to the CPC

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End of the HFC

Thousands of articles critisised the CPC:

  • individual members
  • authoritarian attitudes
  • economic situation
  • poor living standards
  • corruption within the CPC
  • closing China from foreign contacts
  • party members privileges

CPC was horrifed that the people could talk of the party like that

Moa was horrifed by the volume and nature of the complaints

Needed to know the difference between 'fragrent flowers' and 'poisonous weeds'

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Consequences of HFC

1957 - Anti-Rightist Campaign (lead by Deng Xiaoping) set up

hundreds of thousands of intellectuals were called rightists

millions sent to the countryside to 'learn'

many party members committed suicide for were executed

Anti-Rightist Movement taught China not to critise the CPC

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Jung Chang and John Halliday (2005)

'he (Moa) sounded reasonable, critisising Stalin for his 'excessive purges', and giving the impression there were going to be no more of these in China. Few guessed Moa was setting a trap...inviting people to speak an excuse to victimise them. Moa's targets were interllectuals and the educated.'

Jonathan Spence (1990)

'HFC not simply a some critics later charge and he himself seemed to claim...(but) rather, a muddled and inconclusive movement that grew out of conflicting attitudes within the CPC leadership'

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