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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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China's Cultural Revolution, 1966-1976

A social experiment aimed at suppressing counterrevolutionaries and purifying the Chinese Communist Party launched in 1966, the Cultural Revolution was a disaster for China and created chaos across the country. For other collections on China’s modern political history, see: Chinese Civil War, 1945-1950; Purges in 1950s China; China’s Great Leap Forward, 1958-1961; Reform and Opening in China, 1978-; and China, 1989.

  • June, 1966

    Memorandum of Conversation, between the Delegation of the People’s Republic of China, Led by Comrade Zhou Enlai, and the Leadership of the Party and Government of the People’s Republic of Albania [Excerpts]

    Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai meets with a delegation from Albania, and discusses with them Mao Zedong's 'Ten Theses on the Work in the Village.' The Albanians reaffirm their belief in the philosophical teachings of Mao, especially about opposing the dangers of revisionism. The group agrees that there were points at which Stalin was wrong, but that it would be wrong to publicly proclaim it.

  • August 14, 1966

    Note from the Conversation between Ambassador Jerzy Knothe and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai during the ambassador’s farewell visit, August 14, 1966

    Ambassador Jerzy Knothe and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai discuss ongoing Chinese class struggles.

  • September 08, 1966

    Cable from the Yanbian Military District Party Committee, 'Implementing the Shenyang Military District's Opinion “Guidance on the Activities of Red Guards in the Border Area”'

    With Red Guards stirring up trouble on the Sino-Korean bounder, authorities in Yanbian consider how to handle the situation.

  • September 16, 1966

    Political Report No. 24 from Hans Keller, Embassy of Switzerland in China, 'A Sad Return to Beijing'

  • October, 1966

    The Polish-Soviet Talks in Moscow: October 10-15, 1966

    Gomulka and Brezhnev discuss the Cultural Revolution in China and its implications for international communism. Also addressed is Chinese attitudes toward Vietnam.

  • November 16, 1966

    Telegram number 3725-59 from M. Lucien Paye

    Lucien Paye, upon departing China, meets with Foreign Minister Chen Yi to discuss the Red Guard movement, Sino-French relations, and the Vietnam War, among other topics.

  • December 02, 1966

    First Secretary of the Soviet Embassy in North Korean Reports on Sino-Korean Relations in 1966

    A. Borunkov evaluates Sino-North Korean relations in 1966, focusing on the divergences between China and North Korea over the Vietnam War, interpretations of Marxism-Leninism, and the Cultural Revolution.

  • 1967

    CSSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Information: The Most Recent Developments in the Chinese People’s Republic and the CSSR-Chinese Relations'

    Extensive account of CSSR-Chinese relations, including controversy surrounding the Cultural Revolution and Chinese extremism, anti-Soviet proclivities within the Chinese leadership, and the Chinese hydrogen bomb test on June 17th.

  • February 03, 1967

    Memorandum of Conversation between Chairman Mao Zedong and Comrades Hysni Kapo and Beqir Balluku

    Mao Zedong and Beqir Balluku discuss China's Cultural Revolution.

  • February 09, 1967

    Note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Prague

    The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns Chinese authorities responsible for threats to the Czech Embassy in Peking, including the forceful holding of the ambassador of the CSSR and other officials and the tearing of the flag.

  • March 07, 1967

    The DPRK Attitude Toward the So-called 'Cultural Revolution' in China

    The Soviet Embassy reports on the deterioration of Chinese-North Korean relations as a result of the Cultural Revolution in China.

  • April 11, 1967

    Report, Embassy of Hungary in China to the Hungarian Foreign Ministry

    Kim Jae-seok reports on North Korea's stance regarding China's Cultural Revolution.

  • July 08, 1967

    Memorandum of Conversation between comrade Enver Hoxha and a Delegation of Chinese Red Guards

    Enver Hoxha announces that China's Red Guards have "risen to defend the Communist Party, Chairman Mao Zedong, and socialist China."

  • August 16, 1967

    Stenographic Note held during the Conversation between Chairman Mao Zedong and Vangjel Moisiu and Myfit Mushi in Shanghai

    Mao Zedong discusses the Cultural Revolution with a delegation from Albania.

  • October 09, 1967

    CSSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs No. No. 026.235/67-3, 'Information about Most Recent Measures against the Activities of the Representative Office of the Chinese People’s Republic'

    Account of measures taken in response to provocative activities of the CPR (threats, propaganda, restrictions on freedom of movement, etc) and objectives in pursuing these responses.

  • May 06, 1968

    Cable from the CSSR Embassy, Peking, 'Thesis and Proposals for the Development of an Action Plan of the Communist Party and Government of Czechoslovakia regarding the Relations between Czechoslovakia and Chinese People’s Republic'

    Proposals for Communist Party action regarding the CPR activity, including overall objectives in the CSSR-PRC relationship, general foreign policy outlook, and specific measures like fighting against the theory of "two Chinas."

  • July 08, 1968

    Political Report No.12 from the Embassy of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Peking

    Account addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding gradual normalization of communications and relations with China, including conclusions and recommendations for future policy like removal of limits on free movement by the Chinese representative office in Prague.

  • September 07, 1968

    CSSR Embassy Peking, 'Position of the Chinese People’s Republic regarding the Occupation of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Comments in CPR Press and the Attitude of CPR Organs toward Our Representative Office in Peking'

    Account of the CPR's position regarding the Soviet occupation of the CSSR through press statements and statements by officials.

  • January 30, 1969

    Note Gérard de la Villesbrunne to the Foreign Minister, 'New Interest of Western Diplomacy towards China: Hopes and Illusions'

    The French Consul General in Hong Kong notes a spike in China's diplomatic activities with Western Europe, Japan, and the U.S., but concludes that China, "still concerned by internal questions, does not seem to be willing to respond to the openings of non-communist countries with as much enthusiasm as hoped for in the West."

  • May 16, 1969

    Note Number 399 from Pierre Cerles to Michel Debré, 'China and Eastern Europe'

    Pierre Cerles provides an assessment of Chinese foreign policy toward Eastern Europe during the 1960s within the context of the Sino-Soviet split, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the Cultural Revolution, and China's own internal leadership divisions.