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Encyclopedia > Hundred Flowers Campaign
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The Hundred Flowers Campaign, also termed the Hundred Flowers Movement, (Chinese: 百花运动, bǎihuā yùndòng) is the period referring to a brief interlude in the People's Republic of China from 1958 to 1966 during which the Communist Party authorities permitted or encouraged a variety of views and solutions to ongoing problems. However, it may have been a political trap; the end result was that Mao persecuted those who had views different from the party. An ideological crackdown re-imposed Maoist orthodoxy in public expression, and the campaign ended in failure. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... 1966 (MCMLXVI) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1966 calendar). ... The Communist Party of China (CPC) (official name) also known as Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (Simplified Chinese: 中国共产党; Traditional Chinese: 中國共産黨; Pinyin: Zhōngguó GòngchÇŽndÇŽng) is the ruling political party of the Peoples Republic of China. ... Mao could refer to: Mao Zedong, (Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles) leader of the Communist Party of China from 1935 to 1976. ... Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought (Chinese: 毛泽东思想, pinyin: Máo Zédōng SÄ«xiÇŽng), is a variant of Marxism-Leninism derived from the teachings of the Chinese communist Mao Zedong. ...

Contents


Background

The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, and land reforms dominated the agenda of the new communist government. In the early 1950s, the three-anti/five-anti campaigns brought an end to private ownership of land, and further purged many people the CPC deemed to be landlords and capitalists. The accepted school of thought at the time was a branch of Marxism, which was re-interpreted by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong into the guiding ideology of the early 1950s. What would later be known as the Hundred Flowers Movement was first a small campaign aimed solely at local bureaucracies for non-communist-affiliated officials to speak out about the policies and the existing problems within the central government in a manner previously considered illegal. Premier Zhou Enlai was the head of this first campaign. 1949 (MCMXLIX) was a common year starting on Saturday (the link is to a full 1949 calendar). ... The “Three Anti Campaign” and “Five Anti Campaign” The suppression of reactionaries and the land reform mainly affected the countryside, while the subsequent “Three Anti Campaign” and “Five Anti Campaign” (also called the Three-striking campaign and Five-striking campaign) could be regarded as the corresponding genocide in cities. ... The Communist Party of China (CPC) (official name) also known as Chinese Communist Party (CCP) (Simplified Chinese: 中国共产党; Traditional Chinese: 中國共産黨; Pinyin: Zhōngguó GòngchÇŽndÇŽng) is the ruling political party of the Peoples Republic of China. ... (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) (also Mao Tse-Tung in Wade-Giles transliteration) was a Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier, and statesman who led Chinas communist revolution after decades of foreign occupation and civil war in the 20th century. ... The Premier ( Chinese: 总理 pinyin: zŏnglĭ), sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister, is the Chairman of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China and head of Central Peoples Government. ... This is a Chinese name, Zhou is the surname. ...


Continuous efforts were put forth by Zhou Enlai and other prominent Central Government officials, but this minimalized campaign was a failure. No one spoke out openly at all.


During a Communist Politburo Conference in 1956, Zhou Enlai emphasized the need for a bigger campaign, aimed this time at the whole sea of intellectuals within the country, for these individuals to speak out about the policies of the government, in theory allowing better governance. Mao initially had supported the idea. "The government needs criticism from its people," Zhou said in one of his 1956 speeches, "Without this criticism the government will not be able to function as the 'People's Democratic Dictatorship'. Thus the basis of a healthy government lost... We must learn from old mistakes, take all forms of healthy criticism, and do what we can to answer these criticisms." 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... An intellectual is a person who uses his or her intellect to study, reflect, speculate on, or ask and answer questions with regard to a variety of different ideas. ... Peoples democratic dictatorship is a phrase incorporated into the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of China by Mao Zedong. ...


Hundred Flowers

In the summer of 1956, Mao had found the idea interesting, and had superseded Zhou to take central control over the actual campaign. The idea was to have intellectuals discuss the country's problems in order to promote new forms of arts and new cultural institutions. Mao, however, also saw this as the chance to promote socialism. Mao believed that socialism is the only "true" form of thought, and that after discussions it would be apparent that socialism is the dominant ideology over capitalism, even amongst non-communist Chinese. In a later speech made by Mao titled On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions Among the People, Mao had openly and wholeheartedly supported the campaign, saying "Our society cannot back down, it could only progress... criticism of the bureaucracy is pushing the government towards the better." Thus began the ill-fated Hundred Flowers Movement. The Arts is a broad subdivision of culture, comprised of many expressive disciplines. ... Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or political movements that envisage a socio-economic system in which property and the distribution of wealth are subject to social control. ...


The name of the movement originated in a poem: Simplified Chinese: 百花齐放,百家争鸣; Traditional Chinese: 百花齊放,百家爭鳴; pinyin: bǎi huā qífàng, bǎi jiā zhēngmíng; English translation: "Let a hundred flowers bloom: let a hundred schools of thought contend." Mao had used this to signal what he had wanted from the intellectuals of the country. Simplified Chinese characters (Simplified Chinese: 简体字; Traditional Chinese: 簡體字; pinyin: jiÇŽntǐzì; also Simplified Chinese: 简化字; Traditional Chinese: 簡化字; pinyin: jiÇŽnhuàzì) are one of two standard character sets of printed contemporary Chinese written language. ... Traditional Chinese characters are one of two standard character sets. ... Pinyin is a system of romanization (phonemic notation and transcription to Roman script) for Standard Mandarin, where pin means spell(ing) and yin means sound(s)). This article describes the most common variant called Hanyu Pinyin (Simplified Chinese: 汉语拼音; Traditional Chinese: 漢語拼音; pinyin: HànyÇ” PÄ«nyÄ«n), also known as scheme...


The campaign publicly started in late 1956. In the beginning stages of the Movement the Central Government did not receive much criticism, although there was a significant rise in letters of conservative advice. Premier Zhou received some of these letters, and once again realized that this widely publicized campaign was not progressing. Zhou later spoke to Mao about the situation, stating that even more euphoria was needed from the central bureaucracy to lead the intellectuals into further discussion.


By the spring of 1957, Mao had announced that criticism was needed and had started to criticise those who failed to turn in healthy criticism to the Central Government. This was seen to many as a desperate measure to get the campaign going. Many intellectuals, already estimating that this was a plot of some sort, finally gave in to their fiery thoughts. In the period from June 1 to July 17, 1957, millions of letters were pouring in to the Premier's Office and other authorities, and the situation was almost out of control. 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... June 1 is the 152nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (153rd in leap years), with 213 days remaining. ... July 17 is the 198th day (199th in leap years) of the year in the Gregorian calendar, with 167 days remaining. ...


People spoke out by putting up posters around campuses, rallying in the streets, holding meetings for CCP members, and publishing magazine articles. For example, students at Peking University created a "Democratic Wall" on which they criticized the CCP with posters (Spence 1999, 541). "They protested CCP control over intellectuals, the harshness of previous mass campaigns such as that against counterrevolutionaries, the slavish following of Soviet models, the low standards of living in China, the proscription of foreign literature, economic corruption among party cadres, and the fact that 'Party members enjoy many privileges which make them a race apart'"(Spence 1999, 540-1).


Many of these letters, as stated by Mao in early 1957, had violated the "Healthy Criticism" level and had reached a "harmful and uncontrollable" level. These letters had advised the government to "govern democratically" and "open up." Premier Zhou Enlai at first had explored and listened to many of these criticisms, but Mao refused to do so himself. The campaign raised the old apprehension that those who criticise harmfully mean an end to his leadership. By early February 1957, the campaign had become too difficult to control, and Mao viewed many of the letters received as absurd. Intellectuals and others were suggesting radical ideas such as: "the CCP should give up power," "intellectuals are virtually being tortured to live in a communist society," "there is absolutely no human rights and freedom if the CCP is to continue on ruling the country," "the country should separate with each Political Party controlling a zone of its own" and "Each political party in China should rule in transitional governments, each with a 4 year term." 1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A political party is an organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ...


The Hundred Flowers Movement was not what it was projected to be. If any new forms of cultural institutions or arts were being suggested, such proposals were overshadowed by the amount of "unhealthy" political criticism.


In July 1957, Mao ordered to halt the campaign, and Zhou had no powers to stop him. Mao's earlier speech, On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions Among the People, which was never published, was meaningfully changed and appeared later on as an anti-rightist piece itself. Some concluded that Mao knew the outcome before the campaign had even started.


After the Campaign

After the campaign was officially declared over, Mao's resentment towards the intellectuals accumulated. He accused that the intellectuals were the basis of all existing problems and ordered the arrests of counter-revolutionaries on the basis of "Opposing Chairman Mao" in the Anti-Rightist Movement he started a few years earlier. Those who were arrested were critized, condemned and punished harshly, using torture and capital punishment without any form of real trial. The Anti-Rightist Movement (反右派运动)) of the Peoples Republic of China in the 1950s and early 1960s consisted of a series of campaigns to purge alleged rightists within the Communist Party of China and abroad. ... Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is the execution of a convicted criminal by the State as punishment for crimes known as capital crimes or capital offenses. ...


Hence began some of Mao's radical ideas (see Maoism) that would last in the policies of the CCP until the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought (Chinese: 毛泽东思想, pinyin: Máo Zédōng Sīxiǎng), is a variant of Marxism-Leninism derived from the teachings of the Chinese communist Mao Zedong. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... 1976 (MCMLXXVI) was a leap year starting on Thursday. ...


Effects

Post-Hundred Flowers policies influenced later CCP political movements. The Hundred Flowers movement led to the condemnation, silencing, and death of many intellectuals, also linked to Mao's Anti-Rightist Movement, with death tolls possibly in the millions. The Anti-Rightist Movement (反右派运动)) of the Peoples Republic of China in the 1950s and early 1960s consisted of a series of campaigns to purge alleged rightists within the Communist Party of China and abroad. ...


Many, especially in the West, view, somewhat contentiously, the Hundred Flowers Movement as a plot by Mao to strengthen his power. Nevertheless, Mao was unhappy with the results of the campaign, as it exposed the fact that socialism did not enjoy popular support from intellectuals. The actual intentions of the campaign, and the exact method by which Mao was involved, are still a topic of historical debate. The term Western world or the West can have multiple meanings depending on its context. ...


References

Spence, Jonathan D., The Search For Modern China 2nd edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1990. (pp. 539-543)


See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
People's Republic of China (1329 words)
The redistribution of land was accelerated, and a class struggle landlords and wealthy peasants was launched.
An ideological reform campaign requiring self-criticisms and public confessions by university faculty members, scientists, and other professional workers was given wide publicity.
The number of people affected by the various punitive or reform campaigns was estimated in the millions.
Hundred Flowers Campaign Summary (1492 words)
By early July, just five weeks after the inauguration of the Hundred Flowers Campaign, a dramatic new campaign was launched by the CCP, shifting the target of criticism from the CCP to the intellectuals.
The Hundred Flowers Campaign, also termed the Hundred Flowers Movement, (Simplified Chinese: 百花运动; pinyin: bǎihuā yùndòng) is the period referring to a brief interlude in the People's Republic of China from 1958 to 1966 during which the Communist Party authorities permitted or encouraged a variety of views and solutions to ongoing problems.
In the early 1950s, the three-anti/five-anti campaigns brought an end to private ownership of land, and further purged many people the CPC deemed to be landlords and capitalists.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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