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In a Nutshell

When millions of people were murdered or tortured in the name of ‘true’ ideology...


What was the Cultural Revolution?

China’s Cultural Revolution took place between 1966-68 (with some dating its end to as late as 1976 Its aim was to purge the country of its traditional ideas, culture, customs and habits – known as the Four Olds – and capitalist traits, instead preserving China’s ‘true’ communist ideology.

Why did it begin and who was behind it?

The movement was launched by Mao Zedong, co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and founder, in 1949, of the People's Republic of China. Mao’s power had reduced significantly following the failure of his ‘Great Leap Forward’, a campaign introduced in 1958 to develop Chinese agriculture and industry through mass mobilisation of its population. The result had been a huge decline in agricultural output and the deaths of millions through famine. Many historians believe that Mao, who resigned as Chairman of the People’s Republic of China in 1959, launched the Cultural Revolution as a way of re-imposing his authority and eliminating liberal rivals. Other key figures included Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, military leader Lin Biao and Zhou Enlai, premier and foreign minister, and a leading figure in the CCP.

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About BBC History Revealed

August 2016 issue of History Revealed.