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The main task of this stage was to smash the so-called Capitalist Headquarters and seize power from those in power taking the capitalist road. The purpose was to turn the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie into one of the proletariat. The campaign was presented as: "all doubt", "down with everything" and "all-out civil war".
Following the plenary meeting, a swirl of criticism of the bourgeois reactionary line pointed at Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Red Guards emerged and traveled across the country to meet other young activists and pass on the orders from the CCRG, creating chaos across the country and paralyzing local Party organizations.
On October 5, , the CPC Central Committee transmitted emergency instructions made by the Central Military Commission and the General Political Department, cancelling the regulation which stipulated that the "cultural revolution" movement in military colleges and universities could be led by the Party committees of the colleges and universities after the withdrawal of working groups sent by authorities.
Thus, the country began a new wave of revolution without the leadership of Party committees. Except for field armies, all Party committees at various levels became paralyzed, and grassroots party organizations ceased their activities.
Mao Zedong presided over a work conference to criticize the bourgeois reactionary line and criticized Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping by name. In , he became a porter at the state-owned Guangdong Maoming Petroleum Company, where he carried 50kg packs of cement on a daily basis. Then president Liu Shaoqi was one of those who found himself targeted during the revolution, after Mao Zedong felt threatened by him in the early s. In , Liu was arrested, denounced as a traitor and repeatedly subjected to physical abuse despite his failing health.
He died in custody two years later. In the 9th Central Committee in , only 19 per cent of the members and alternate members of the 8th Central Committee retained their seats. Many of the newcomers were proteges of Lin Biao, the Gang of Four and heads of rebel groups that had led violent clashes in power grabs.
Of them, 53 were expelled from the party after the revolution finally ended. On September 13, , Lin, his wife Ye Qun, also a member of the top leadership, and their son Lin Liguo, an air force official, were killed in a mysterious plane crash in Mongolia as they tried to flee China. Even as propaganda machines trumpeted the incident as yet another victory over a traitor of the state, people grew suspicious of the regime over the mysterious circumstances under which Lin died. Meanwhile, revolutionary fads began to fade. Party elders who had been purged from the top leadership were not reinstated, however.
The exception was Deng Xiaoping, who was reinstated as vice-prime minister in , though he was ousted again two years later. Members from the military dropped by half, an obvious sign of distrust after the fall of Lin, who had risen to power as a marshal. Over the next few months, the country welcomed the first visit of a US president, Richard Nixon, paving the way for full normalisation of ties between Beijing and Washington.
The US also reaffirmed its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question and pledged to withdraw troops from the island.
But unlike Washington, which struck a balance in its relations with Beijing and Taipei, Tokyo cut off diplomatic ties with Taipei during Tanaka's visit. China also began building formal diplomatic relations with European countries. Before , only six European countries outside the socialist bloc had formal ties with China, but by the end of the s, Beijing had established formal ties with all but four European countries. Across the globe, Maoists rose up in rebellion as they strove to apply his ideology in their respective countries and regions.
Riots, chaos and unrest ensued. In France, Mao was one of the key icons in the May civil unrest that targeted capitalism, consumption and American imperialism. Maoists and anarchists were among those who joined the unrest, which began with strikes and protests before escalating into full-scale riots. Hong Kong was rocked by a seven-month-long rebellion as the revolution spilled over the border from Shenzhen to the city. The event, which came to be known as the Hong Kong leftist riots, left 51 people dead and more than injured as pro-communists clashed with the establishment, planting bombs across the city and assaulting those who opposed the violence.
Over 1, people were charged and convicted after the riots. Kelley wrote. Students reportedly boycotted their examinations, scrawled Maoist quotes on walls and burned books in stores. Both the party and army are today considered terrorist groups by the United States. Marcos, whom Sison rebelled against, warmed during the mids. Beijing and Manila established formal diplomatic ties in In Beijing from to , he was reportedly schooled in the Maoist thought and trained to handle weapons and explosives.
Culture became a convenient excuse for those in power to charge their rivals for misdeeds and to root out their opposing ideas from society. Peking opera, often regarded as the national form, still featured feudal generals and beauties which — as the radicals charged — sabotaged the superstructure of the socialist economic base. Jiang took it upon herself to reform Peking opera by reintroducing socialist revolutionary arts based on modern themes.
She also incorporated Western musical arts by producing a mixed orchestra featuring both Chinese and Western instruments.
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The short cultural thaw during the period ended in early after national campaigns were launched that criticised Western classical music. Arranged for ballet in , it became a model work during the revolution, alongside Red Detachment of Women. The first lady also directed a new version of the opera in December , which was performed across the country after its premiere in Yanan.
It is not known if its copyrights issues were discussed during the Mao-Nixon summit. Among them were writers, playwrights, actors, musicians, academics and other intellectuals. Teachers at colleges, high schools and elementary schools, newspaper owners, play actors, novel writers, painters, movie makers These people have sneaked into our party.
Now the Cultural Revolution makes sense to you. Lao, who returned from the United States in , was labelled a capitalist roader. He took his life in Beijing after he was targeted in a public humiliation session. Labelled a rightist, Shanghai-based Fu was publicly humiliated in a four-day session and had his house raided. He committed suicide by taking poison and his wife hanged herself the same day.
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A graduate from Yale and the University of Chicago, the Beijing-based professor and his wife took their lives at the height of the first wave of the Red Guards movement. He, his wife and fellow musician Cheng Zhuoru were the first ones in the institute to be targeted. The couple committed suicide by gas. A member of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Gu, her mother and sister took their lives after rebels slapped her in public and forced her to kneel in front of a portrait of Mao. The leading opera actress was labelled a Kuomintang spy and publicly humiliated. She died from an intentional sleeping pill overdose, five days before her 38th birthday.
Lu, initially an open advocate of the revolution, was arrested as an anti-revolutionist just 12 days after the outbreak. He was executed two years later, and his family was charged for the bullet used. Yao, a former metallurgy researcher for the Kuomintang government, returned from further studies in Europe in Red Guards beat him to death after labelling him a reactionary academic authority. He hanged himself after he was labelled a spy. He committed suicide. He died from severe abuse. All the hair on his head had been pulled out before his death. After enduring months of being publicly humiliated and having his house raided, he died from a heart attack.
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He took his life by a sleeping pill overdose after he was repeatedly subjected to public humiliation. He died two years before his satellite was sent to space. He was still being interrogated when he died in hospital while receiving treatment under custody. Her family was charged 5 cents for the bullet used. Lin became an iconic figure of independent thinking after the revolution. While there is a widening wealth gap between the rich and the poor, mass mobilization is a thing of the past.
Moreover, the arrests of high-level officials and political dissidents are at least packaged in legal terms and implemented through ostensibly legal procedures. And the violence present in Chinese society today is on a much smaller scale than in the s and s. But if one defines the Cultural Revolution by its strict one-party rule, total control of the media, thought control, religious oppression, and suppression of dissent, then today differs only in degree. Xi has adopted a zero-tolerance policy toward political opposition and grassroots rights defense movements.
Since Xi assumed power in late , hundreds, if not thousands, of human rights defenders have been imprisoned. Many NGOs have been shut down ; thousands of Christian crosses have been forcibly removed ; Christian churches have been destroyed ; and practitioners of small religious groups such as Falun Gong have been persecuted. Feminist activists, defenders of labor rights, Internet celebrities, and journalists who have dared to speak out have all been attacked. But could the Cultural Revolution happen again in China?
The biggest difference between now and then is that Chinese people no longer bestow the party with the legitimacy it would need to implement such a campaign. The authorities, knowing all too well the severity of their crimes, downplayed the matter and attempted to force the people to forget about it as well. Eventually, the party censored and forbade even the most oblique of references to the massacre.
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The Internet and social media have helped to organize this dissatisfaction and resistance. So, what does this mean for China today? Yes, the party is suppressing grassroots rights defense and dissent movements at a level unseen since The existence of these movements is the reason why Xi has sought to revive certain Cultural Revolution-era practices.
Those in power want to stop the clock and prevent historical reckonings, to continue to monopolize power, to embezzle, bribe, and squirrel away their ill-gotten assets.
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But the time for that has passed.