The Communist revolutionaries under Mao Zedung wrested the power from Kuomintang in mid- 20th century after a prolonged battle. On 1st October 1949, Mao declared the formation of People’s Republic of China. The country became an official Communist nation and Mao became the head of both the party and country. He implemented the policies to stabilize the economy and administration of China.
In the early days of his rule Mao implemented policies modeled after those of Soviet Union. In 1958, he decided to part with it and brought in a new policy, called Great Leap Forward. The project, aimed at the progress in agricultural sector, was however, a disappointment in various levels. The economic failure of the policy began to weaken Mao’s position in the party and he had to step down as the head of state. At the same time, the new President Liu Shaoqi undertook projects to encourage private agriculture and improve the financial sector of the country.
To counter these kinds of revisionist activities, Mao declared a new socio-political movement in 1966; the Cultural Revolution. The official term for the movement was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. With the movement, Mao aimed to bring back the party and society to Communist ideals, which he thought the country was slowly losing. He formulated plans to weaken his political rivals and bring back Maoist principles as the primary ideology of the party. He formed a group Red Guards, consisting of mainly students, who acted as the front-line organizers of Cultural Revolution. Mao called for the students to annihilate people who traversed the path of capitalism. The collection of his thoughts, the Little Red Book, was the sacred text for the Red Guards. They stormed the campuses and questioned the teachers. Scholars and writers were sent to paddy fields to practice agriculture. Many universities were closed. Many cultural and religious establishments were destroyed during the movement.
Cultural Revolution witnessed many human rights violations and bloodshed. The party became more militant and the anti-Mao thinkers were hunted down. Many people were persecuted and suffered abuse. A lot of people were displaced from their homelands. The cultural revolution was being spearheaded by a group of four people. Known as the Gang of Four, it was composed by Jiang Qing, Mao’s last wife, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen. Mao declared the end of the movement in 1969 but it continued unofficially.
The movement weakened considerably with the death of military leader Lin Biao in 1971. After Mao’s death in 1976, the country witnessed a struggle for power and after a long battle, the gang of four was arrested and Deng Xiaoping was sworn in as the Premier of China. Later, China officially renounced the Cultural Revolution and its associated events.
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