Business Practice and the Cultural Revolution

  • Philip ScrantonEmail author


The Cultural Revolution was not planned to address economic issues, but it did have sharp, if fleeting impacts on enterprises, disrupting managerial practices that at times resembled Old China clientelism combined with New China opportunism. While bitter and often violent struggles exploded at major urban plants in Shanghai, Wuhan, and elsewhere, and while Red Guard travels disrupted railway traffic for a time, the realms of commerce and agriculture were less affected. Indeed, a massive “Third Front” capital construction campaign in the west surged in 1965, was interrupted at the height of disturbances and resumed “heroically” in 1968, staffed by hundreds of thousands of construction workers, among whom eventually were many defeated Red Guards. As well, drives to strengthen rural small industry, especially the repair and maintenance of agricultural, irrigation, and transport technologies, presaged national “industrialize the countryside” efforts in the 1970s. As the CR waned, CIA analysts judged China’s communist enterprise networks were stronger than at any time since Liberation, even if its politics remained chaotic.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryRutgers UniversityCamdenUSA

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