What proposed changes in 1960 caused Mao to launch a Cultural Revolution?

1 Answer
Feb 21, 2018

Reforms which he felt threatened the Maoist Revolution.


Mao came to power on October 1st 1949 after a long and bloody civil war. The problems he faced were immense. The country was largely agrarian and Mao's power base was the peasants. He re-organised the land seizing it from private landlords. He moved towards the establishment of communes, huge self contained units where production was determined by the state and people were organised into different roles.
The economy was nationalised and 5 year plans similar to those in the Soviet Union were established.
By the early 60's Mao felt secure enough to allow others to take on a more prominent role in China's government among them Deng Xiao Ping. They suggested economic reforms in an attempt to increase food production as the highly centralised communes had proved to be unsuccessful. Widespread famine in the 50's killed up to 30 million although the exact figure is not known.
Although Mao initially went along with these reforms, he became concerned, fearing that they were leading to the re-introduction of capitalism. In 1965 he launched the Cultural Revolution through radicals in the party, principally his wife Chiang Ching and the Red Guard students. Reformers were swept from power, publicly humiliated, imprisoned and executed. Up to 100,000 it is estimated, were killed.
This chaos lasted until Mao's death in 1976 when a power struggle ensued. The moderate faction emerged victorious, Chiang and her allies the Gang of Four were defeated and Deng became China's leader. He began the economic and social revolution which has taken place in China since then.