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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2012

Chapter 3 - The Chinese State in crisis, 1966–1969

Summary

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which by official Chinese reckoning lasted from the beginning of 1966 to the death of Mao Zedong some ten years later, was one of the most extraordinary events of this century. The images of the Cultural Revolution remain vivid: the young Red Guards, in military uniform, filling the vast Tiananmen Square in Beijing, many weeping in rapture at the sight of their Great Helmsman standing atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace; veteran Communist officials, wearing dunce caps and placards defiling them as “monsters” and “freaks,” herded in the backs of open-bed trucks, and driven through the streets of major cities by youth only one-third their age; the wall posters, often many sheets of newsprint in size, filled with vitriolic condemnations of the “revisionist” or “counterrevolutionary” acts of senior leaders. The little red book carried by the Red Guards – a plastic-bound volume containing selected quotations from Chairman Mao – remains a symbol of the revolt of the young against adult authority.

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