Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Purge of Provincial Leaders 1957–1958

  • Frederick C. Teiwes


In December 1957, after the rectification-turned-anti-rightist campaign, an eleven-month series of provincial purges began. They affected twelve Chinese provinces and autonomous regions, in roughly chrono-logical order: Chekiang, Anhwei, Kansu, Tsinghai, Shantung, Hopei, Yunnan, Kwangtung, Sinkiang, Kwangsi, Honan, Liaoning and Shantung, again. With the exception of the Liaoning and second Shantung purges, all of these cases were reviewed at the second session of the Eighth Party Congress in May, 1958. The victims of the purges included four alternate members of the Central Committee, one provincial first secretary, eighteen members of standing committees of provincial committees, five secretaries of provincial committee secretariats, ten members of these secretariats, four governors, and ten vice-governors as well as approximately twenty-five other officials holding Party or government positions on the provincial level. In brief, this was no minor matter.



Hide All

1 The chronology is based on the date of disciplinary action taken by the various provincial committees when that date is available. When such dates are not given circumstantial evidence is used. This method is probably distorting in so far as the positions of the purged officials were affected before disciplinary action was formally taken. But the dates of the real loss of power cannot be pinned down.

2 Second Session of the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1958), pp. 1214 .

3 There is some doubt as to whether the Chao Chien-min who was governor of Shantung is the same Chao who was an alternate member of the Central Committee. Here it is assumed that he is. See Union Research Biographical Service No. 119, 08 20, 1957.

4 There is some overlap of posts, especially where Party and government jobs are held by the same person.

5 Disciplinary action usually consisted of either expulsion from the Party and loss of posts or loss of posts without expulsion. There is no visible pattern between charges and severity of action taken. The only possible pattern of any kind might be found in the fact that none of the four alternate members of the Central Committee were expelled or lost their alternate status. Of those purged, only Feng Pai-chu seems to have made a real political comeback. He was elected to the National Defense Council in mid-1959 and by 1960 he was reported active as vice-governor of Kwang-tung once again. See Union Research Institute, Communist China 1960 (Hong Kong: 05 1962), Vol. I, p. 33.

6 e.g., Hsing-ling, Ch'eng, vice-governor of Hunan and member of the China Democratic League, removed from office 01 2, 1958 (Survey of China Mainland Press (SCMP) (Hong Kong: U.S. Consulate-General), No. 1689); and Pao T'ing-kan, president and concurrently secretary of the Party Committee of Kirin's Higher People's Court, who was exposed in January 1958 (Union Research Institute, Communist China 1958 (Hong Kong: 12 1959), p. iii).

7 Also included in this session was the case of the acting first secretary of Taian District, Shantung. However, there is no information available to the author dealing specifically with the Taian case.

8 Second Session of the Eighth National Congress, p. 13.

9 See SCMP, No. 1647, 11 7, 1957 (Honan); and Joint Publications Research Service (JPRS) (Washington: State Department), No. DC–435, 11 30, 1958(Tsinghai). One of the charges against the accused parties in both cases was that they denied the existence of class struggle. These sources would indicate that, at least in public utterances, they were well aware of its existence.

10 See Current Background (CB) (Hong Kong: U.S. Consulate-General), No. 487.

11 Union Research Service (URS), Vol. 13, No. 14.

12 CB, No. 487.

13 SCMP, No. 1925.

14 e.g., SCMP, No. 1850 (Yunnan); SCMP, No. 1755 (Tsinghai); and SCMP, No. 1819 (Kwangsi).

15 See SCMP, No. 1925 (Liaoning); and JPRS, No. 1723–N, p. 14 (Shantung).

16 e.g., SCMP, No. 1819 (Kwangsi); and CB, No. 528 (Kansu).

17 The purge of P'an Fu-sheng provides the most detailed account of differences over rural policy. CB, No. 515.

18 e.g., SCMP, No. 1819 (Kwangsi); and SCMP, No. 1797 (Yunnan).

19 e.g., Extracts from China Mainland Magazines (ECMM) (Hong Kong: U.S.Consulate-General), No. 169 (Shantung); CB, No. 528 (Kansu); and URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 199 (Kwangtung).

20 CB, No. 515.

23 Chih-p'u, Wu, “From Agricultural Producers' Co-operatives to People's Communes,” People's Communes in China (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1958), p. 32.

24 CB, No. 515.

28 See SCMP, No. 1819 (Kwangsi); URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 201 (Kwangtung); and SCMP, No. 1850 (Yunnan).

29 CB, No. 515.

32 Honan, Tsinghai, Anhwei, Yunnan, Kansu, Kwangsi and Shantung. These theories had broader application than the countryside alone in most cases.

33 See CB, No. 515 (Honan).

34 Ibid. Actually P'an allegedly said this in 1953. For a similar statement see SCMP, No. 1925 (Liaonjng).

35 CB, No. 515.

36 See ibid.

39 e.g., ibid. and SCMP, No. 1736 (Anhwei).

40 SCMP, No. 1736.

45 On Socialism's need for intellectuals, see CB, No. 515 (Honan).

46 SCMP, No. 1850.

47 Chekiang, Anhwei, Tsinghai, Yunnan, Kansu and Shantung.

48 SCMP, No. 1864.

49 JPRS, No. 1078–D, 17, p. 5 (Anhwei); and CB, No. 528 (Kansu).

50 SCMP, No. 1850.

51 JPRS, No. 1723–N, p. 13.

52 CB, No. 515.

53 Ibid. p. 19. Of course, under the radical policies of the Great Leap much was left to local initiative. In the provincial purges, however, a not infrequent charge was that the guilty parties asserted their province's special conditions in order to depart from the centre's policies. Such departures were usually in a conservative direction, but in the case of Li Feng (Shantung) they were to the left. See note 107.

54 There was also reference to this problem in Liaoning. See SCMP, No. 1925, p. 33.

55 e.g., URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 201 (Kwangtung).

56 CB, No. 515.

58 SCMP, No. 1850.

60 In every case except Hopei. The Hopei purge seems the most inconsequential of the twelve. See SCMP, No. 1833.

61 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang); and CB, No. 528 (Kansu).

62 CB, No. 515.

63 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang).

64 e.g., CB, No. 515 (Honan); and CB, No. 528 (Kansu).

65 SCMP, No. 1925.

66 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang); and SCMP, No. 1850 (Shantung).

67 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang).

68 CB, No. 528.

69 URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 203.

70 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang).

71 SCMP, No. 1924.

72 e.g., URS, Vol. 10, No. 7, p. 98 (Chekiang).

73 Kansu, Kwangtung, and both Shantung purges.

74 URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 197 (Kwantung); SCMP, No. 1850 (Shantung); and CB, No. 528, p. 1 (Kansu).

75 CB, No. 528.

76 JPRS, No. 1723–N, p. 13 (Shantung); and USR, Vol. 13, No. 23, p. 342 (Liaoning).

77 SCMP, No. 17–36 (Anhwei); and SCMP, No. 1850 (Yunnan).

78 e.g., SCMP, No. 1850 (Yunnan).

79 See JPRS, No. 758.

80 e.g., SCMP, No. 1797 (Yunnan); and SCMP, No. 1925 (Liaoning).

81 URS, Vol. 13, No. 26, p. 385.

83 See URS, Vol. 12, No. 20. The date is unclear but appears to have been in July.

84 In Kwangtung, the activities of the Hainan clique were said to be large scale. See URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 203.

85 See CB, No. 487 (Chekiang); and CB, No. 515 (Honan).

86 SCMP, No. 1924.

87 SCMP, No. 1850.

88 The Tsingtao Conference held in July 1957. At this conference which was attended by some provincial and municipal secretaries Mao made an overall estimation of the nature and status of the rectification campaign and the anti-rightist struggle.

90 e.g., SCMP, No. 1850 (Shantung).

91 e.g., SCMP, No. 1850 (Yunnan).

92 SCMP, No. 1850.

93 URS, Vol. 13, No. 26, p. 388.

94 CB, No. 528.

95 SCMP, No. 1736.

96 JPRS, No. 1723–N, p. 33.

97 e.g., SCMP, No. 1924 (Shantung).

98 CB, No. 528.

99 See Klein, Donald W., Who's Who in China, Biographical Sketches of 542 Chinese Communist Leaders (New York: 1959) and URS Biographical Service No. 450.

100 see MacFarquhar, Roderick, “Communist China's Intra-Party Dispute,” Pacific Affairs, 12 1958.

101 ibid.

102 SCMP, No. 1382.

103 Ibid.

104 Tse-tung, Mao, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions among the People,” Bowie, Robert R. and Fairbank, John K., Communist China 1955–1959, Policy Documents with Analysis (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1962), pp. 282283.

105 Ibid. p. 286.

106 SCMP, No. 1382.

107 P'an, however, was speaking of the anti-rightist campaign while the directive referred to production targets.

108 Mao, op. cit. The question, of course, is whether the Sinkiang comrades saw local nationalism as a threat at all.

109 Apparently at the September 1957 Central Committee meeting. See Chen-lin, T'an, “Explanations on the Second Revised Draft of the National Programme for Agricultural Development (1956–1957),” Second Session of the Eighth National Congress, p. 81.

110 Yunan and the second Shantung purge.

111 e.g., CB, No. 487 (Chekiang); and SCMP, No. 1924 (Shantung).

112 e.g., CB, No. 515 (Honan); and URS, Vol. 13, No. 14, p. 197 (Kwangtung).

113 See CB, No. 515 (Honan).

114 Ibid.

115 SCMP, No. 1850.

116 JPRS, No. 1723–N, p. 15.

117 See Wu's biography in Klein.

118 Wu, first secretaries Chiang Hua of Chekiang, Ts'eng Hsi-sheng of Anhwei, Huang Ou-tung of Liaoning, Lin Tieh of Hopei, and Wang En-mao of Sinkiang.

119 This opportunity was undoubtedly vitiated by the fact that only one such official was a native of the province in which he served. Wu. See Klein.

120 In April 1958 Li Tzu-hou took over the duties of governor of Hopei from Lin Tien who continued as first secretary. The reason given was so Lin could devote his energies to the Party post. Because of the apparent insignificance of the Hopei purge, there is no reason to assume the arrival of Liu, who had worked in Hupei until January 1956 and then dropped out of sight, was connected with it.

121 URS, Vol. 13, No. 22, December 16, 1958, p. 328.

122 See Yuan's biography in Klein, op. cit.

123 Chou Chien-jen. See Klein, op. cit. Apparently the purge of Sha, who had served as first secretary from January 1955 to the spring of 1956, consolidated the power of First Secretary Chiang Hua.

124 See T'an's biography in Klein, op. cit.

125 There is no explicit evidence indicating any influx officials from the outside in any province. In Honan, where background research was done, there is considerable continuity of names of secondary officials, e.g., vice-governors, on those infrequent occasions when such names were mentioned. Thus it would appear that there was no sizeable influx into Honan at this level, but the information is highly fragmentary.

126 Hofheinz, Roy, “Rural Administration in Communist China,” The China Quarterly, 0709 1962, pp. 152, 154.

127 SCMP, No. 1925, January 2, 1959, p. 29.

128 Union Research Institute, Communist China 1958 (Hong Kong: 1959), p. 1.

129 ibid. Mao was also reportedly in Ch'engtu in March 1958 and during the next month Yeh Shih, mayor of Ch'engtu, was purged.

130 SCMP, No. 1689, January 13, 1958, p. 24.

131 SCMP, No. 1736, March 21, 1958, p. 11.

The Purge of Provincial Leaders 1957–1958

  • Frederick C. Teiwes


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed