Even by the spring of 1959, Mao and leading CCP members were becoming aware of some of the worst excesses of the Great Leap Forward. A conference was called in Lushan to discuss the progress of the Great Leap Forward. The Lushan conference would attempt to alleviate the suffering of the famine that was already present and growing in China.
Upon launching the Great Leap Forward, it was evident that Mao’s enthusiasm and optimism were not shared by all of the senior CCP membership. None of the Politburo dared oppose Mao, however Mao was to face the first challenge to his leadership in the form of his Minister of Defence, Peng Dehaui.
Peng was a veteran of the CCP with a record of disagreeing with Chairman Mao. He had travelled through China and witnessed with his own eyes the failures of the Leap. Peng reported that he had seen many dead peasants and others dying of starvation. He also commented that many peasants were on the verge of rebellion.
Initially, Peng wanted to meet Mao to discuss his findings, however Mao was unavailable. So instead Peng wrote a letter in which…