The Cultural Revolution of China

TheCultural Revolution of China

AfterMao Zedong had stepped down as the head of State of China, he endureda period of political seclusion. At the age of 70 in 1963, Mao, whoremained the chairperson of the Socialist party grew tired of theseclusion because he still had a dream of realizing a socialistutopia. He began a plan, which would be the final but mostrevolutionary act of his political career. During this while, hisstrongest ally in the government was Lin Biao, who was then theMinister of Defense. With the help of the defense minister, a bookcalled QuotationfromChairmanMao Zedong,was published and distributed across the country (Williams n.p).

SinceMao was the very backbone of the revolution of China, he was elevatedto a new status among the Chinese. In school, students were taughtthat Mao was the savior of China. As long as people were doing thingsthat Mao said, they were doing the right thing even if they did notunderstand what they were doing. This idea was deeply rooted in theyoung Chinese students’ minds and blood (Daubier n.p).

Theleaders of China, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shao-chi and Deng Xiaoping chooseto ignore Mao’s radical ideas instead of attacking him because itwould be undermining their own legacy. These people supported Maogreatly in 1949 during the advent of the socialist government. Theirstrategy of a careful Chinese economic growth was working. By 1966,China was one of the nuclear superpowers in the world ranking fifth.However, Mao was still dissatisfied that he had no control of partypolicy and he felt like the other leaders were betraying therevolution. His idea of building a strong Chinese economy wasdifferent from those of Liu and the rest (Williams n.p).

InMay 1966, Mao began attacking the government through the columns ofChina’s main newspaper. He called on young people to attack partyofficials. He wanted them to be replaced by true revolutionaries.This was the beginning of a cultural revolution. The fact thatchairman Mao, who was considered a god-like figure among the Chinese,was reaching out to the ordinary citizens at the bottom of thesociety, made a strong impact on China. People felt the need toprotect Mao with their lives and blood. This led to massivedemonstrations across China, with students attacking teachers andparty officials, leaving schools and universities in chaos (Daubiern.p).

Ina meeting that was held at the Beijing University Great Hall ofPeople, Mao publicly dismissed the leaders as an oldcounterrevolutionary. To Mao, Liu was no longer the head of State ora communist he was an obstacle to a revolutionary China. Afterreordering the party a few weeks after the great meeting, the leadersof China were demoted. The Red Guards, which was an outfit consistingof students who carried out Mao’s orders, agreed to carry on withthe Cultural Revolution. This made schools close down. Mao used theRed Guards to attack any western influence. His focus was on the fourolds, which were old customs, old ideas, old culture and old habits(Schoenhals n.p). This group led a reign of terror in China as theyattacked, ransacked and looted homes, libraries, temples, schools andmuseums. The violence extended to traditional targets who were theformer property owners. Party officials, people who still had foreignconnections, intellectuals and business people, were paraded andhumiliated in public. About 400,000 people were killed. According toMao, a revolution was not a dinner party (Williams n.p). It involvedone class overthrowing the other through acts of violence.

By1967, the government was greatly dominated by radical revolutionarygroups. Zhou Enlai led moderate leaders while Lin Biao led theradical group. The leaders of the government were attacked, beaten todeath or imprisoned. Liu Shao-chi, who was the Chinese head of statefor a decade, died. In the same year, a new turn to a culturalrevolution emerged. Since the Red Guards was never a united outfit,factional warfare began. This led to a clash of ideologies among thegroups as they fought for local power that involved millions ofsoldiers and workers. Each faction had access to armory as therevolutionaries robbed military arsenals and army barracks thataligned with a rival faction. Throughout this, Mao Quotations andSongs were used to encourage the rebels (Daubier n.p).

Diplomaticrelations between China and other foreign countries deteriorated.Foreign embassies were attacked in the capital. The violence hadspiraled beyond Mao’s control. Finally, in 1968, Mao himselfordered the Red Guards to stop the revolution. China had entered anew era of military rule. Led by Lin Biao, the cult of Mao wascatapulted to new heights as rigid conformity ruled the Chinesepeople. According to sources, people were supposed to report theirthoughts to Mao twice a day and dance their loyalty dance. Anyone whowas unhappy with the cult was called a reactionary person (Williamsn.p).

Inconclusion, as much as Mao Zedong was the Chinese savior after theSecond World War, selfishness and political greed led him to destroyChina. His beliefs of a communist utopia resulted in chaos even afterending the Cultural Revolution and sending the rebels for education.It had led to a new China, a radical China. Eventually, MAO saw theUSSR as great an enemy as the imperialist United States.


Daubier,Jean.&nbspAhistory of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.Vintage Books USA, 1974.

Schoenhals,Michael. China`s Cultural Revolution, 1966-69: Not a Dinner Party.Routledge, 2015.

Wlliams,Sue. The Mao Years 1949-1976: A Century in Revolution. AlexanderStreet. 1997.