Anti-Rightist Movement

Anti-Rightist Movement

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The Anti-Rightist Movement of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 in the 1950s and early 1960s consisted of a series of campaigns to purge alleged "rightists" within the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 (CPC) and abroad. The definition of "rightists" was not always consistent, sometimes including critics to the left of the government, but officially referred to those intellectuals who appeared to favour capitalism
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 and class divisions and against collectivization. The campaigns were instigated by Chairman Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 and saw the political persecution of an estimated 550,000.


The Anti-Rightist Movement was a reaction against the Hundred Flowers Campaign
Hundred Flowers Campaign
The Hundred Flowers Campaign, also termed the Hundred Flowers Movement, refers mainly to a brief six weeks in the People's Republic of China in the early summer of 1957 during which the Communist Party of China encouraged a variety of views and solutions to national policy issues, launched...

, which had promoted pluralism of expression and criticism of the government.

Going perhaps as far back as the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south...

 there had been resentment against "rightists" inside the CPC, for example Zhang Bojun
Zhang Bojun
-Biography:Zhang studied philosophy in Germany between 1922-1926, and joined the Communist Party of China upon becoming a personal friend with Zhu De , his roommate at the time...


First wave

The first wave of attacks began immediately following the end of the Hundred Flowers movement in July 1957. By the end of the year, 300,000 people had been labeled as rightists, including the writer Ding Ling
Ding Ling
Dīng Líng was the pseudonym of Jiǎng Bīngzhī , also known as Bīn Zhǐ , a Chinese woman author from Linli in Hunan province. She was awarded the Soviet Union's Stalin second prize for Literature in 1951....

. Future premier Zhu Rongji
Zhu Rongji
Zhū Róngjī is a prominent Chinese politician who served as the Mayor and Party chief in Shanghai between 1987 and 1991, before serving as Vice-Premier and then the fifth Premier of the People's Republic of China from March 1998 to March 2003.A tough administrator, his time in office saw the...

, then working in the State Planning Commission, was purged in 1958. Most of the accused were intellectuals. The penalties included informal criticism, "re-education through labour" and in some cases death.

One main target was the independent legal system. Legal professionals were transferred to other jobs; judicial power was exercised instead by political cadres and the police.

Second wave

The second part of the campaign followed the Lushan Conference
Lushan Conference
The Lushan Conference , officially the 8th Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, began on July 2, 1959 and was an informal discussion about the Great Leap Forward...

 of July 2 – August 16, 1959. The meeting condemned General Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader of the Communist Party of China, and China's Defence Minister from 1954 to 1959. Peng was an important commander during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese civil war and was also the commander-in-chief of People's Volunteer Army in the Korean War...

, who had criticised the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...


Historical revisionism after Mao

After Mao's death, many of the convictions were revoked in 1979. Many of those accused of rightism and who had been persecuted for that crime for 22 years were suddenly found never to have been labeled as rightists.

Censorship in China

Discussion of the Anti-Rightist Movement is currently subject to heavy censorship within China. In 2007, a ban was placed on the book The Past is not Like Smoke, by Zhang Yihe whose father was persecuted as a rightist, due to its discussion of the Anti-Rightist Movement.

In its meeting at the beginning of the year, the Chinese communist Party's Central Propaganda Department listed the Anti-Rightist Movement as a topic to be restricted in media and book publications.

In 2009, leading up the 60th anniversary of the PRC's founding, a number of media outlets in China listed the most significant events of 1957 but downplayed or omitted reference to the Anti-Rightist Movement. Websites were reportedly notified by authorities that the topic of the movement was extremely sensitive.

See also

  • Cultural Revolution
    Cultural Revolution
    The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

  • List of CCP Campaigns
  • Communist mass killings
  • Communist terrorism
    Communist terrorism
    Communist terrorism are actions carried out by groups which adhere to a Marxist-Leninist or Maoist ideology which have been described as terrorism. State actions carried out by the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, North Korea and the actions of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia have all been...

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