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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Purges in 1950s China

In 1954, Gao Gang of China's State Planning Commission and Rao Shushi of the CCP Organization Department allegedly attempted to sideline Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi from the leadership of the Communist Party. In response, at the Fourth Plenary Session of the Seventh CCP, held 6 February through 10 February 1954, Zhou Enlai and Liu Shaoqi accused Gao and Rao of factionalist activities and orchestrated their purge from the CCP. The session concluded with the passage of a "Resolution on Strengthening the Party's Unity." Gao Gang committed suicide following the events.

  • February, 1954

    Resolution on Strengthening the Party's Unity

    After discussing the factionalist activities of Gao Gang and Rao Shushi, the Fourth Plenary Session of the Seventh CCP concludes by passing the 'Resolution on Strengthening the Party's Unity'.

  • February 02, 1954

    From the Journal of Ambassador Pavel Yudin: Memorandum of Conversation between Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai

    A conversation between Soviet Ambassador to China Pavel Yudin, CCP Secretary Liu Shoaqi and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. The primary topic of discussion was the ongoing Gao Gang case, and his attempts to split the Communist Party. The cohesion and unity of the Party was of primary concern, as both feared Gao Gang's power and influence over the party may threaten the country's political stability as a whole.

  • February 13, 1954

    From the Journal of Ambassador P. F. Yudin: Record of a Conversation with Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai on 13 February 1954

    Yudin records a conversation he had with Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai, who described events in the "Gao Gang Affair," discussing at length the anti-party activities of Gao Gang and Rao Shushi.

  • February 25, 1954

    Excerpt of Mao Zedong's Edits to the Outline of Zhou Enlai's Speech

    Mao Zedong reviews a speech by Zhou Enlai on the Gao Gang Affair.

  • February 25, 1954

    Outline of Comrade Zhou Enlai's Speech at the Discussion Meeting on the Gao Gang Question

    Zhou Enlai outlines his criticisms of Gao Gang and the reasons for his purge from the Chinese Communist Party.

  • February 26, 1954

    Letter from Liu Shaoqi to Mao Zedong

    Liu Shaoqi asks for instructions before distributing the outline of Zhou Enlai's speech on Gao Gang to cadres throughout the Communist Party.

  • February 28, 1954

    Letter from Mao Zedong to Comrade Liu Shaoqi and the Secretariat

    Mao Zedong approves Hu Qiaomu and Chen Boda's revisions to Zhou Enlai's speech on the Gao Gang Affair.

  • March 01, 1954

    Report of Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yi, and Tan Zhenlin concerning the Discussion Meeting of the Rao Shushi Question

    Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yi, and Tan Zhenlin summarize the seven meetings held to discuss the purge of Rao Shushi.

  • March 03, 1954

    Instructions from the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party

    The Central Committee provides instructions on transmitting and discussing Zhou Enlai's speech on the Gao Gang issue.

  • March 09, 1954

    From the Journal of Ambassador Pavel Yudin: Memorandum of Conversation with Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai

    A conversation between Soviet Ambassador to China Pavel Yudin, CCP Secretary Liu Shaoqi and Chinese Prime Minister Zhou Enlai. The primary topic of discussion was the Gao Gang case and the attempts to splinter the Chinese Communist Party.

  • March 31, 1954

    From the Journal of Ambassador Pavel Yudin: Memorandum of Conversation with Mao Zedong, 26 March 1954

    Chairman Mao and Soviet Ambassador Pavel Yudin discuss the "Gao Gang affair." Mao recounts Gao Gang's scheming within the ranks of the CCP, and how he tried to use Mao's name to attack Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai.