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What was the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China?

Mao’s China, c.1930–1976

Why did China become a Communist state?

Why did the Communists start the Long March?
How far was the Long March a success?
How far did the Second World War weaken the Nationalist government and strengthen the Communists?
Why did the Communists win the Civil War?

How far had Communist rule changed China by the mid 1960s?

What changes in agriculture did Communist rule bring?
What was the impact of the Communists’ social reforms?
How successful were the Five-Year Plans in increasing production?
Did the Chinese people benefit from Communist rule?

What was the impact of Communist rule on China’s relations with other countries?

What have been China’s changing relationships with neighbouring states?
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How far was China established as a superpower by the time of Mao’s death?

Did Communism produce a cruel dictatorship in China?

How successful was ‘The Hundred Flowers Movement’?
Why did Mao launch the Cultural Revolution?
What was the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China?
How far was Mao a great leader of China?

What was the impact of the Cultural Revolution on China?


The Cultural Revolution encouraged the Red Army to challenge peoples views to ensure that they were true Maoists. This was often done in a very violent manner as different units sought to make themselves appear to be the true representatives of Mao's vision. Consequently many people were not only verbally challenged but also physically abused. This led to many deaths.

In the early stages of the Cultural Revolution there were large scale changes in the leadership of the Communist party. Throughout the party, including the Politburo, officials who were not deemed to be supportive of Mao's vision were removed and replaced by people more in line with Mao's vision.

The use of the military to support the introduction of the Cultural Revolution led to an increase in tensions between military leaders. Instead of uniting people behind a vision it led to conflict and chaos in many parts of the country. These divisions went right to the top of the Military and Government. Following the initial changes to the politburo the newly named successor to Mao, Lin Biao, began to make moves to assert his position an authority. his moves led Mao to be wary of someone who appeard to want power before his time. A power struggle ensued within the Politburo which resulted in Lin being killed, possibly whilst trying to flee to the Soviet Union following an abortive assassination attempt on Mao's life. Following this, the military leadership was purged.

The cultural Revolution also incorporated a Cult of Personality which venerated Mao. This had a large impact on towns and cities with developments being introduced that idolised Mao. This, of course, cost money and diverted funds from Industrial development: resulting in a decline in Industrial output.

Another aspect of the Cultural Revolution was the change in education policies. Instead of a balanced curriculum the education programme was essentially a enlightenment program. Thus anyone of school age at the time of the Cultural Revolution would not neccessarily have been taught the skills required to have a really positive input in the workplace.



Source: Poster, 1969. Entitled 'Mao is the red Sun'

Mao is the Red Sun, poster from 1969


History Learning Site - The Cultural Revolution

BBC - China's Revolution, a glossary

Suite 101 - Red Guards and Mao Zedong Terrorized China in 1966-76

About.com - entry on the Chinese Cultural Revolution





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