China Under Mao

Archive Report

Communist China at Turning Point

State of China After Two Years of Turmoil

The great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao Tse-tung in the late spring and summer of 1966, brought mainland China to the brink of anarchy. Virtually all secondary schools and universities in the country were closed for a year or longer, while five or six million students in the Red Guard or other organizations—impelled by utopian objectives and encouraged by the highest state authorities—wrought untold physical and psychological damage. At the peak of the convulsion, anyone suspected of “bourgeois leanings” (policies differing from Mao's) was fair game for character assassination, removal from a post of responsibility, or personal harassment. At times, a civil war of gigantic proportions seemed imminent.

Forces of moderation, including the ...

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