Liu Shaoqi and the Cultural Revolution: The Rise and Fall of a Chosen Successor

  • John Gardner
Part of the China in Focus Series book series


In the early months of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong made a speech in which he explained that the Chinese Communist élite had made arrangements for the succession at a very early stage. For seventeen years, he said, the leadership had been divided into ‘two fronts’. He himself had stood in the ‘second front’ where he ‘did not take charge of daily work’. That was in the hands of other senior leaders who constituted the ‘first front’.1 In part this division no doubt reflected Mao’s own distaste for regular involvement in the multifarious details of governing the Chinese state. For, as one scholar has put it, Mao chose ‘at times to stand outside the political system on a high eminence where he deliberated on questions of ideology and on the grand strategy of the revolution’.2 But there was another reason. Mao wanted to give his colleagues public exposure and experience so that their prestige might be cultivated. It was the original intention, he said, that ‘when he met with God, the state would not be thrown into great convulsions’. He pointed out that the ‘two fronts’ had been partly inspired, or reinforced, by Chinese perceptions of ‘the lessons in connection with Stalin in the Soviet Union’.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    M. Rush, How Communist States Change Their Leaders (London: Cornell University Press, 1974), p. 253.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    L. Dittmer, Liu Shao-ch’i and the Chinese Cultural Revolution: The Politics of Mass Criticism (London: University of California Press, 1974), p. 26.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    J. Gray and P. Cavendish, Chinese Communism in Crisis: Maoism and the Cultural Revolution (London: Pall Mall Press, 1968), p. 155.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    S. R. Schram, ‘Introduction: The Cultural Revolution in Historical Perspective’, in S. R. Schram (ed.), Authority, Participation and Cultural Change in China (London: Cambridge University Press, 1973), p. 73.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    For a convenient survey of Lin’s attempts to ‘revolutionise’ the Army, see E. Joffe, Party and Army: Professionalism and the Chinese Officer Corps (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    A. C. Miller and Chung Hua-min, Madame Mao: A Profile of Chiang Ch’ing (Hong Kong: Union Research Institute, 1968), p. 62.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    For an interesting study of the Cultural Revolution, see A. P. L. Liu, Political Culture and Group Conflict in Communist China (Oxford: Clio Books, 1976).Google Scholar

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© John Gardner 1982

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  • John Gardner

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