By Justin Zhang, VI Form
Red Guards During the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
Following Japanese surrender in 1945, China emerged as the victor of the Second Sino-Japanese War after decades of Japanese occupation and eight years of total war. A new series of military struggle for control of China between the Nationalist forces under Chiang Kai-Shek and the Communists under Mao Zedong, who were reluctant co-belligerents allied during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After four years of military conflict, the Chinese Civil War concluded with the triumph of the Communists in 1949 with almost all of mainland China falling under communist control and the remainder of Nationalists escaping to the island of Taiwan. After the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Mao initiated extensive cooperation with the Soviet Union under Stalin’s lead to transform China’s war-ravaged economy into a planned economy closely following the Soviet model.
As Nikita Khrushchev came into power after Stalin’s death in 1953, however, relations between the PRC and the Soviet Union worsened. Khrushchev began engaging in a process of de-Stalinization, criticizing many aspects of Stalin’s leadership, in particular, the confrontation of the West and his cult of personality. Mao, who emulated Stalin’s style of leadership as he developed his own cult of personality, denounced de-Stalinization as Marxist revisionism, a pejorative term used to describe an abandonment of Marxist principles such as the worldwide struggle for communism as the Soviet Union sought peaceful coexistence with the West. The term was later widely used during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution as a justification for the persecution of “counter-revolutionaries.”
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Justin Zhang is a VI Form boarding student from Shenzhen, China. He enjoys Humanities and Social Sciences, listens to Frank Ocean a lot, and plays basketball.