From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution 1959-1965
December 1958• Mao steps down as Chairman of the COUNTRY, but remains Chairman of the PARTY.• Liu Shaoqi becomes chairman of the COUNTRY – AKA President of China.
July 1959 Lushun Conference (AKA Lushan Conference)• Peng Dehuai wrote a letter to Mao criticizing the Great Leap Forward.• Mao circulated the letter to the whole Central Committee• Mao accused Peng of being a rightist, of deviating from the general line and of echoing criticisms the USSR was making.• Peng was dismissed as Defense Minister and placed under house arrest.• Peng was replaced by Lin Biao
Significance of Lushan Conference• 6 million other party members were forced to make self-criticisms, and many were dismissed from the party.• The Great Leap Forward continued (although the backyard steel campaign ended) and policies were slightly more sensible• From this point, it was clear that even old comrades and members of the politburo couldn’t get away with open opposition to Mao.• Incident inspired the 1961 play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office by Wu Han (Historian and Deputy Mayor of Beijing)
1961 CCP quietly begins to undo the policies of the Great Leap Forward• Communal canteens abandoned.• Peasants allowed to cultivate private plots.• Financial incentives introduced for peasants and industrial workers.• Several state run enterprises closed.• Rural markets permitted.• Communes gradually disbanded.• Many of the “rightists” purged in 1957-8 were rehabilitated.
“China needs intellectuals, needs scientists. Forall these years they have been unfairly treated.They should be restored to the position theydeserve.” - Vice President Chen Li
1961: Opera version of Wu Han’s Hai Rui Dismissed from Office comes out.• This was a play about a Ming dynasty official who was dismissed (and sentenced to death) for giving honest criticism to the emperor. (The emperor died before the sentence could be carried out.) The opera was a hit in China, especially after Mao praised it.• In 1965 Yao Wenyuan denounced the work, saying that it was an obvious allegory of the Peng Dehui dismissal. Wu Han was arrested and later died in prison at the age of 50 in 1969. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1979. Yao Wenyuan and the other members of the Gang of Four launched the Cultural Revolution, aimed at purging Chinese culture of anti-communist influences.
1962: Beginning of Third Five Year Plan• Designed by Chen Yun (a self-taught economist who had also criticized the Great Leap forward, but somehow avoided being lumped in with Peng Dehui), with the support of Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai.• Centralized planning instead of the decentralized planning of the communes• Targets reviewed every year making them realistic and flexible.• Continued with financial incentives for workers and peasants.
Results of the Third Five Year Plan• By 1965, agricultural production had recovered to pre 1938 levels.• Light indstry expanded 27%.• Heavy industry expanded by 17%.• Oil production increased 1000% and natural gas by 4000%, meaning China no longer had to import oil and gas from the USSR, which was good, because the relationship with theUSSR had broken down.
January 1962: Mao calls a conference to warn against “revisionism”• 7000 party members attended, but instead of agreeing with Mao that the party was in danger of drifting away from its socialist ideals, Liu Shaoqi made a speech praising Mao for his correct leadership, but adding that “It is necessary to point out that the primary responsibility for the shortcomings and errors in our work in these past few years lies with the Party centre.”
January 1962 conference (continued)• This forced Mao to make a somewhat self-critical speech:“Any mistakes that the centre has made ought to be my direct responsibility, and I also have an indirect share of the blame because I am chairman of the Central Committee. I don’t want other people to shirk their responsibility. There are some other comrades who also bear responsibility, but the primary person responsible should be me.”Mao did not get the support he wanted and he felt humiliated and threatened. He withdrew from public life for a few months.
June 1962 Deng Xiaoping’s famous quote:“It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white; solong as it catches the mouse, it is a good cat.”
1962 Liu Shaoqi advocates improving relations with the USA and USSR.1962 Summer Conference: Mao makes a speech attacking the “capitalist road” being taken by Liu and Deng, calling it “revisionism”.• Liu and Deng responded by agreeing with Mao, but continuing their economic policies quietly.
1964 Socialist Education MovementAIMS2)Aimed at teaching everyone about the virtues of Socialism3)Aimed at stamping out corruption in the countryside – ie abuses by officials in charge of grain requisitioning, allocating labour, accounting, etc.
1964 Socialist Education MovementMETHODSMao had wanted “the masses” to conduct nationwide struggle sessions against party officials. Instead, Lui sent thousands of party members form the cities were sent to the countryside to learn from the peasants about the virtues of manual labour and to investigate rural officials. Thousands of officials were executed and many more committed suicide.
1962-65 Mao works increasingly closely with Lin Biao• 1963: Lin Biao compiles Mao’s Quotations in to the “Little Red Book” and distributes it to the army http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/
1962-65 Mao works increasingly closely with Lin Biao• Number of party members in PLA increased.• Political indoctrination, especially reverence for Mao emphasized.• 1965 – Ranks abolished.
1963 Diary of Lei Feng published• Lei Feng was a dedicated communist from childhood, completely selfless and devoted to the cause. He was a member of the Communist youth League, and he joined the PLA transportation corp at the age of 20. At the age of 22 in 1962, he tragically died in an accident. Lei Feng, Chinese propaganda poster. The caption reads: Follow Lei Fengs example; Love the Party, Love Socialism, Love the
1963 Diary of Lei Feng published• The Diary details Lei Feng’s many good deeds.• Chinese people, especially the youth, were encouraged to follow Lei Feng’s example. This movement has outlasted Mao. Lei Feng, Chinese propaganda poster. The caption reads: Follow Lei Fengs example; Love the Party, Love Socialism, Love the
Excerpts from the Diary of Lei Feng21 October, 1960: "I found comrade Wang Yan sitting apart watching everyone eat lunch. He answered, This morning I ate two boxes, so I didnt bring any food. So I took my own lunch box and gave it to him to eat. Even though I was a little hungry, letting him eat his fill was my greatest happiness..."
Excerpts from the Diary of Lei Feng"...I thought, a newly-established peoples commune will certainly have many problems. I am a PLA soldier, so I must use real actions to provide help. Thinking of these things, I went to the bank and withdrew 200 yuan...."
Excerpts from the Diary of Lei Feng"Only by understanding revolutionary truth can one become a good soldier for Chairman Mao. I want to actively study Chairman Maos works. Sometimes I wont put down my studying even in the bathroom. The army mandated lights-out at 9:00, so I bought a flashlight and study under my covers..."
Excerpts from the Diary of Lei Feng"Ive studied all of the documents from the 8th Plenary Session of the CPC 8th Central Committee, and I thought to myself, what can I do for the Peoples Commune? If I collect manure for fertilizer, I can collect more than 500 pounds in a month and send it to the commune. If the commune wants to figure the money, Ill say that I dont have any gift to give to the commune; this manure is my gift"
Excerpts from the Diary of Lei Feng "Our comrade QiaoAnshan is less educatedthan other people. Hedoesnt have enoughconfidence in his studies.His head hurts wheneverhe studies math. Hedoesnt bring a notebookto class, and sometimesskips classes. One day, Ihad him do homework,but he said his pencilhad gotten lost. I gavehim mine, and helpedhim staple together anhomework notebook.This got to him - hisenthusiasm for hisstudies graduallyimproved, and his testscores werent thatbad.”
November 1965Yao Wenyuan (radical leftisttheatre critic in Shanghai andmember of the now infamous“Gang of Four”) criticizes Hai RuiDismissed from Office. (Wu Hanwas jailed a few months later.He died in prison either fromsuicide, TB or the effects ofbeatings in 1969.)Mao moves to Shanghai
Mao’s Wives1) Liu Yixiu (1889-1910) A marriage arranged by Mao’s father in 1907 when she was 18 and Mao was 14. Mao never acknowledged it. He left for university and lived as a single man.
Mao’s Wives2) Yang Kaihiu (1901-1930): Daughter of Mao’s favourite professor at teaching college. Married Mao in 1920 when Mao was 27. Captured by the GMD in 1930 and tortured to death in front of her eight-year-old son, refusing to denounce her husband and the CCP. She bore Mao three sons, one of whom was lost in the civil war, the eldest killed in the Korean War and the middle one was afflicted with mental illness and died in 2007.
Mao’s Wives3) He Zizhen (1909-1984) Mao’s third wife. She married him in 1930 when she was 21 and Mao was 37. (I get the impression he was already living with her when the news of his second wife’s death came). She was an expert on guerrilla warfare. She was part of the Long March, during which she had to abandon most of her children to be raised by peasants. This, combined with her husband’s frequent affairs seems to have affected her badly. In 1937 she was sent to Moscow to be hospitalized for mental illness. Mao remarried in 1938.
The Gang of Four: Jiang Qing 1914-1991Mao’s fourth wife - a former film actress fromShanghai. She married him in Yan’an in 1939. In1966, Lin Biao appointed her to coordinate the PLA’scultural policies. She made it her goal to eradicate“feudal and bourgeois” art forms and replace themwith Socialist art forms. For instance, she insistedthat the entire canon of Chinese opera be replacedwith the “Eight Model Operas”. She used herposition as Mao’s wife to push through radical socialpolicies on his behalf and to attack his enemies. Afterhis death, she was arrested, blamed for the excessesof the Cultural Revolution and sentenced to death.The death sentence was commuted to life in prison.She committee suicide in 1991. During her trial, sherefused to acknowledge the authority of the court.When the sentence was read , she yelled out “I wasMao’s dog. Whoever he told me to bite I bit.”
The Gang of Four: Zhang Chunqiao 1917-2005Shanghai writer and journalist whoseradical articles helped publicize theideology of the Cultural Revolution.He led the Shanghai revolutionarycommittee during the CulturalRevolution. In 1969 he was appointedto the Politburo. In 1975 he wasappointed second deputy PrimeMinister. After Mao’s death, he wasarrested and sentenced to death(commuted to life in prison).
The Gang of Four: Yao Wenyuan 1931-2005Shanghai literary critic who criticized theplay Hai Rui Dismissed from Office in aShanghai newspaper in November 1965,kicking off the Cultural Revolution.During the Cultural Revolution, he wasan active member of “Proletarian Writersfor Purity” and he edited the “LiberationDaily” newspaper in Shanghai. In 1969 hewas appointed to the Politburo. AfterMao’s death in 1976 he was arrested andsentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The Gang of Four: Wang Hongwen 1935-1992Born in Manchuria (then Manchukuo).He served in the Chinese army during theKorean war and then was sent toShanghai to work as a security guardThere he met Zhang Chunqiao andbecame one of the first Red Guards. Hewas appointed to the Politburo in 1969and became Vice Chairman of the partyin 1973, third in rank after Mao and LinBiao.
Lin Biao (1907-1971)One of the top generals in the PLA. He was the son of a small landlord, butjoined the Socialist Youth League in 1925. He attended Whampoa MilitaryAcademy, where he became a protégé of Zhou Enlai. He graduated in 1927at the age of 18 and was immediately pressed into service in the NorthernExpedition. By 1927, he was a colonel . After the Shanghai massacre, hejoined Mao and Zhu De in Jiangxi. He performed brilliantly during bothphases of the Civil War and during the war against the Japanese. After thepurge of Peng Dehui in 1959,he became defense ministerof China. He worked closelywith Mao. He compiled Mao’squotations into the “Little RedBook” and made all soldiersstudy them. After the purge ofLiu Shaoqi, he was appointedMao’s second in commandand successor.
Lin Biao (1907-1971) contnuedMao’s physician believed that Lin wasmentally unbalanced. He seems tohave spent some time in some sort ofmedical treatment in the 1950s. In1971 Mao hinted that he thought Linwas getting too power-hungry. Itseems that at that point Lin decided totry to overthrow Mao. The plot wasdiscovered and Lin tried to flee in a‘plane. The ‘plane went down inMongolia because it ran out of fuel. Lin Biao’s defection was soembarrassing for the CCP that they waited nearly a year beforeannouncing it. They the launched a “Criticize Lin Biao andConfucius” campaign. This abrupt about-face disillusioned a lot ofChinese people about the Cultural Revolution and the CCP.
Zhu De 1886-1976Son of wealthy landlord in Sichuan, he participated inthe 1911 revolution. When Yuan Shikai suppressed theGMD, he was forced into exile. From 1916-1922 ZhueDe became a warlord and struggled with drugaddiction. In 1922, he travelled to Europe where hemet Zhou Enlai. He returned to China in 1926. After1927 he was the military commander of the JiangziSoviet. He played an important role in coming up withthe tactics of guerrilla warfare. He was so importantthat he and Mao were collectively known as “ZhuMao”. He was one of the leaders of the Long Marchand led the PLA until 1954. From 1954 to 1967 he wasdeputy chairman of the People’s Republic of China andChairman of the National People’s Congress. In 1967he was denounced by Red Guards and dismissed fromhis positions, but he was not harmed or imprisoned. Heseems to have been protected by Zhou Enlai. In 1971,he was restored to his positions.
Zhou Enlai (1898-1976)Born into a wealthy well educated family that fell onhard times, Zhou won scholarships to study in Japan,China and Paris. He was active in the anti-Japanesecampaign during the May Fourth movement. Hejoined the Communist Party in Paris in 1922 and wasactive in organizing his fellow Chinese studentsstudying in Europe to support the CCP. In 1924, hereturned to China and was put in charge of the CCPmilitary affairs. During the United Front, he was onthe staff at the Whampoa Military Academy underthe command of Chiang Kaishek. Zhou neverseems to have trusted the GMD. He set about recruiting as manysoldiers and officers as possible to the CCP, keeping their enrollmentssecret. When Chiang dismissed the known communists from the army,Zhou set about organizing labourers in Shanghai. He managed toescape the Shanghai terror in 1927. From 1928-29 he was in the USSR.In 1931 he moved to Jiangxi and, with the support of the Cominternlargely displaced Mao as leader of that base and the party.
Zhou Enlai (continued)In 1935 at the Zunyi conference, he threwhis support behind Mao and thereafterdeferred to him as leader of the party. Henegotiated the Second United Front withChiang Kaishek in 1937. From 1949-1976 heserved as China’s Prime Minister and ForeignMinister. During the Cultural Revolution, heis credited with protecting relics like theForbidden City and individuals like DengXiaoping and Zhu De from the worstexcesses of the Red Guards. In 1975, theGang of Four began to direct their sights onhim, but he died in January 1976, beforethey could do any serious damage. Therewas a huge outpouring of mourning, with thousands of wreaths beingplaced in Tiananmen Square. This was interpreted as a veiled protestagainst the government.
Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997)In 1919, at the age of 15, Deng was sent with agroup of students to study in France. He ended upworking in factories in Paris, where he converted toSocialism and met Zhou Enlai. He became a leadingmember of the CCP youth branch in Europe. In 1926he studied in the USSR and then returned to China.He attempted an uprising against the GMD inGuangxi province and then moved to the JiangxiSoviet. He held important positions during the LongMarch, the war against Japan and the Civil War. Hesupported Mao in the anti-Rightist Campaign.During the Great Leap Forward, he served asGeneral Secretary of the Secretariat, working closelywith Liu Shaoqi. From 1959 onwards he and Liuquietly undid most of the impractical policies of theGreat Leap Forward. When Mao
Deng Xiaoping (continued)launched the Cultural Revolution, Deng wasdenounced as a capitalist roader and forced toresign his offices and move to Jiangxi to work asa labourer in a tractor factory. In the meantime,his son, a student at Beida was targeted by RedGuards, tortured and thrown (or driven to jump)from a fourth floor window. He is now aparapalegic. When Lin Biao died in 1971, Dengbecame the most respected surviving formermilitary leader, which increased his influence.When Zhou Enlai became ill with cancer in 1974, he talked Maointo bringing Deng back and making him deputy Prime Minister.Deng worked to restore the economy while being careful toexpress loyalty to Mao Zedong thought. In 1975, he was targetedalong with Zhou Enlai. After Zhou’s death, Deng was blamed forthe Tiananmen incident and withdrew from public life. He was
Deng Xiaoping (Continued)saved further persecution byMao’s death in 1976. Overthe next few weeks, heemerged as the de factoleader of China (although hisposition was unofficial). Heended the CulturalRevolution, and openedChina to the west and tocapitalistic economic policies.On the other hand, he wasalso the leader during theTiananmen Incident of June 41989.