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Bernd Chang
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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Chinese:无产阶级文化大革命) or simply the Cultural Revolution (文革) was a violent mass movement in the People’s Republic of China that started in 1966 and officially ended in 1976.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Chinese:无产阶级文化大革命) or simply the Cultural Revolution (文革) was a violent mass movement in the People’s Republic of China that started in 1966 and officially ended with Mao Zedong's death in 1976.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution, was a socio-political movement that took place in the People’s Republic of China from 1966 through 1976. Set into motion by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, it was designed to further advance socialism in the country by removing capitalist elements from Chinese society, and impose Maoist orthodoxy within the Party.

The Revolution was launched in May 1966. Mao alleged that bourgeois elements were entering the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these “revisionists” be removed through violent class struggle. China’s youth then responded to Mao’s appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement then spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself.

It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials who were accused of deviating from the socialist path, most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. During the same period Mao’s personality cult grew to immense proportions.

The Cultural Revolution damaged the country on a great scale economically and socially. Millions of people were persecuted in the violent factional struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including torture, rape, imprisonment, sustained harassment, and seizure of property. A large segment of the population was forcibly displaced, most notably the transfer of urban youth to rural regions during the Down to the Countryside Movement. Historical relics and artifacts were destroyed. Cultural and religious sites were ransacked.

Mao officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, but its active phase lasted until the death of Lin Biao in 1971. The political instability between 1971 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 are now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution. After Mao’s death in 1976, forces within the Party that opposed the Cultural Revolution, led by Deng Xiaoping, gained prominence. Most of the Maoist reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were abandoned by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since; in 1981, the Party assigned chief responsibility to Mao, but also laid significant blame on Lin Biao and the Gang of Four for causing its worst excesses.

Key Dates

1963: Mao Zedong establishes the Socialist Education Movement

May 29, 1966: First group of Red Guards formed

June 1, 1966: The People's Daily calls for a purge of "imperialists" and "imperialistic intellectuals"

August 8, 1966: "16 Points" decision passed defining the extent and nature of the revolution

August 20, 1966: Red Guards gather in Bejing and begin the "Destruction of the Four Olds" campaign

December 1968: "Down to the Countryside Movement" begins

September 8-10, 1971: String of assassination attempts on Mao occur as part of Lin Biao's coup plot

September 13, 1971: Lin Biao killed in a plane crash

September 9, 1976: Mao Zedong dies

October 11, 1976: Gang of Four arrested

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Bernd Chang
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The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Chinese:无产阶级文化大革命) or simply the Cultural Revolution (文革) was a violent mass movement in the People’s Republic of China that started in 1966 and officially ended with Mao Zedong's death in 1976

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Bernd Chang
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On October 10,1965, Yao Wenyuan published on Wenweipo (上海文汇报) his critisizing article on a historical drama entitled Hai Rui Dismissed from Office. In the play, an honest civil servant, Hai Rui, was dismissed by a corrupt emperor. Yao labeled it a "poisonous weed" and an attack on Mao, using the allegory of Mao Zedong as the corrupt emperor and Peng Dehuai as the honest civil servant. This article is regarded as igniting the Cultural Revolution

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Bernd Chang
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On May 16, following Mao's lead, the CCP Politburo issued a formal notice that symbolically triggered the Cultural Revolution. In this document, Peng Zhen was sharply criticized, and the "Group of Five" was disbanded, replaced by the Cultural Revolution Group (CRG).

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Bernd Chang
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On August 5, 1966, Mao published on Shanghai Wenweipo his own big-character poster entitled Bombard the Headquarters. Mao wrote that despite having undergone a Communist revolution, China's political hierarchy was still dominated by "bourgeoisie" elitist elements, capitalists, and revisionists, and that these counter-revolutionary elements are indeed still present at the top ranks of the party leadership itself.

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Bernd Chang
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On August 8, 1966, the Central Committee of the CCP passed its "Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" (also known as "the 16 Points"). This decision defined the GPCR as "a great revolution that touches people to their very souls and constitutes a new stage in the development of the socialist revolution in our country, a deeper and more extensive stage".

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Bernd Chang
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Handbook of studying 16 Points

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Bernd Chang
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In February of 1970, the leadership in Peking announced the start of the One Strike-Three Anti campaign ( 'strike' against 'active counterrevolutionary elements' , 'Three Antis' ('graft and embezzlement', 'profiteering' and 'extravegance and waste') . The picture shows an exhibition of the campaign.

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Bernd Chang
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On April 1, 1969, at the Ninth CCP Congress, Lin officially became China's second-in-charge after Mao Zedong. The Ninth Congress began when Lin delivered a Political Report, The second item of the Congress agenda was the new party constitution, which was modified to officially designate Lin as Mao's successor. Lastly, the Congress elected a new Politburo with Mao Zedong, Lin Biao, Chen Boda, Zhou Enlai, and Kang Sheng being the five new members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

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Bernd Chang
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On August 23, 1970, the 2nd Plenum of the CCP's Ninth Congress was once again held in Lushan. Chen Boda was removed from the Politburo Standing Committee due to his request to restore the position of State President. Chen's removal from the Standing Committee was seen as a warning to Lin Biao and as the beginning of the friction between Mao and Lin.

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Bernd Chang
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Mao, Zhou and Henry Alfred Kissinger. In July 1971 Henry Kissinger, visited Beijing to open relations with PRC

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Bernd Chang
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Historical meeting: On February 21, 1972, President Richard Nixon flew to Beijing, welcomed by Premier Zhou Enlai.

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Bernd Chang
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Handshake

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Bernd Chang
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Toast

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Bernd Chang
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Banquet

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Bernd Chang
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A big-character poster against Deng Xiaoping's "rehabilitating the case for the rightists" during the latter phase of Cultural Revolution.

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Bernd Chang
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Liaoning propaganda official, CCP member, Ms. Zhang Zhixin voiced her sympathy over treatment of Liu Shaoqi and those persecuted party cadres. Her remarks led to her arrest in 1970 and execution on April 4, 1975. Before shot to death, her throat was removed for fear that she might shout unwelcome slogans.

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Bernd Chang
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On April 5, 1975, Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled China for more than 20 years and fled to Taiwan after defeated in the civil war against CCP, died at the age of 88 in Taipei. People's Daily of CCP published the notice with the title "Chiang Kai-shek died" (on the contrary, they declared Mao or other high ranking official's death as ' pass away ')

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Bernd Chang
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President Gerald Ford visited the PRC in 1975 and reaffirmed the U.S.'s interest in normalizing relations with Beijing. The picture shows Deng Xiaoping, vice premier of that time China, welcomed Ford at the airport. Those accompaning President Ford included then ambassador to China Mr. Jorge Bush (first from the left).

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Bernd Chang
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On September 9, 1976, Mao Zedong died. Mao's image during the Cultural Revolution portrayed him as a larger-than-life figure who represented China's revolutionary progress. When his death was announced on the afternoon of September 9, the nation descended into grief and mourning, with people weeping in the streets and public institutions closing for over a week.

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Bernd Chang
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On October 10, Members of the Gang of Four(Jiang Qing, Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen) arrested in a bloodless coup. Historically, this marked the end of the Cultural Revolution era. The picture shows people were convened on Tiananmen Square for a celebration of the arrest of the Gang of Four. The portrays were Mao and then new CCP chairman Hua Guofeng.

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