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Believing that the leadership at the time was moving towards a revisionist direction, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Mao Zedong launched a movement known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to revive the revolutionary spirit of China. This revolution, which took place from 1966-1976, originally intended to strengthen the foundations of communism, following Mao’s visions but is believed to have pursued the opposite, instead of leading China to embrace capitalism.
See the fact file below for more information on the Cultural Revolution or alternatively, you can download our 21-page The Cultural Revolution
worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE BEGINNING OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
- After the fall of his Great Leap Forward (1958-1960) and the economic crisis that followed shortly after, Mao’s position in the Chinese government weakened.
- For such reason, it is believed that Mao had the desire to reassert his authority over the Communist party, which led to the establishment of the Cultural Revolution in August 1966.
- However, historians suggested that the Cultural Revolution might have begun in mid-May 1966 when Chinese leaders in Beijing issued a document called as the May 16 Notification, telling that the Communist party had been infiltrated by bourgeois revisionists.
- Mao Zedong urged his loyal supporters to condemn bourgeois ideas embedded in academic writing. He encouraged the students from universities and colleges to rebel toward their teachers who were anti-revolutionaries. The students responded enthusiastically to Mao Zedong and he summoned them for a mass rally in Tiananmen Square on August 18, 1966.
- Following this, massive youth mobilizations took place, which created the paramilitary group called the Red Guards, aimed at destroying the four olds: old culture, old customs, old habits, old ideas. When the group grew by one million members in Beijing, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution began. Members of China’s elderly and intellectual population were also attacked by the Red Guards.
- Many campuses, universities, churches, shops, and even private homes were likewise destroyed at the time, as an attack on feudal traditions.
- Moreover, this revolution escalated quickly to violence as Mao ordered security forces not to interfere in the work of the Red Guards.
- This resulted in an estimated 1,800 deaths in August-September 1966 alone.
- By late 1968, Mao started to send millions of urban youth to the countryside for their supposed reeducation.
- The Red terror further blew out of proportion as Mao instructed the army to restore order, resulting in a military crackdown that lasted until 1971. The death toll also increased during these times.
THE END OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
- As the Cultural Revolution approached its eventual end, Zhou Enlai, one of Mao’s accomplices, tried to stabilize China by renewing the educational system and bringing back former officials into power.
- However, in 1972, Zhou learned that he had cancer while Mao suffered a stroke. Due to this development, the two leaders campaigned for Deng Xiaoping, a decision opposed by Mao’s allies known as the Gang of Four. This divide continued for the succeeding years.
- Convincingly, the death of Mao on September 9, 1976 marked the fall of the Cultural Revolution.
- Following this, party leaders ordered the execution of Mao’s allies, including his widow, Jiang Qing.
- In 1981, Jiang was sentenced to death, but it was later reduced to life in prison. In 1991, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution, Jiang hung herself.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION
- Historians believed that this revolution had an estimated 500,000 to 2,000,000 deaths. The southern province of Guangxi is said to have suffered the worst due to reports of mass executions and even cannibalism.
- This period brought massive violence, relocations, executions, and closing of institutions greatly affected China’s economic production.
- Furthermore, this revolution which intended to revive the visions of communism, next to Mao’s ideas, ironically resulted in the opposite. It instead led China to embrace capitalism in the 1980s.
- The Communist Party made some attempts to correct the horrors of the previous decade. Those who were unfairly purged or persecuted went into rehabilitation. Others were also punished for this chaos.
- However, these efforts slowed down starting in the early 1980s because Beijing became worried that it might implicate itself in the massive killings that took place, especially due to the growing resistance from the Chinese youth.
- Historians likewise observed how this chaotic period brought class enemies across China at the time.
The Cultural Revolution Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Cultural Revolution across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The Cultural Revolution worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Cultural Revolution. Believing that the leadership at the time was moving towards a revisionist direction, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Mao Zedong launched a movement known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution to revive the revolutionary spirit of China. This revolution, which took place from 1966-1976, originally intended to strengthen the foundations of communism, following Mao’s visions but is believed to have pursued the opposite, instead of leading China to embrace capitalism.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- China: The Cultural Revolution Facts
- Locating China
- Find the Word
- Timeline of the Cultural Revolution
- Reforms under the Cultural Revolution
- Mao Zedong
- ‘The East is Red’
- Poster Analysis
- Video Analysis
- The Impact of the Cultural Revolution
- In a Nutshell
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