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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.

  • January 17, 1967

    [Mao Zedong] and Foreign Guests Discuss How to Read Big-Character Posters

    Mao explains that not all big-character posters are revolutionary ones. Readers should understand that the posters will present different sides of various issues.

  • January 28, 1967

    Directive [from Mao Zedong] Regarding Foreign Friends' Participation in the Cultural Revolution

    Mao allows revolutionary foreigners to participate in the Cultural Revolution.

  • February 03, 1967

    [Mao Zedong's] Conversation with [Hysni] Kapo and [Beqir] Balluku

    Mao explains that he started the Cultural Revolution to purge revisionist and bourgeois elements from the Chinese Communist Party in an open and comprehensive way.

  • 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.

  • April 12, 1967

    Transcript of a Telegram from the GDR Military Attaché in Beijing, 'About the Situation in the PR China'

    A report on the Chinese army and their interactions with other organized groups.

  • May 01, 1967

    Remarks from [Mao Zedong's] Audience with an Albanian Military Delegation

    In a meeting with Albanian military officials, Mao explains his reasons for starting the Cultural Revolution. He emphasizes that the purpose is to solve current problems in the world and dig out the roots of revisionism [within the Chinese Communist Party].

  • May 01, 1967

    [Mao Zedong's] Conversation with Distinguished Guests from Albania during the "May First" [Labour or International Workers' Day] Holiday

    In a meeting with visitors from Albania, Mao explains that China needs to "criticize, struggle, and achieve the 'Three Combinations' [for reorganizing the government] as soon as possible.

  • June, 1967

    [Mao Zedong's] Revisions for a Speech That Chinese Red Guard Delegates [Will Deliver] in Albania

    Mao deletes and revises phrases in a speech that Chinese Red Guards would subsequently deliver on a trip to Albania.

  • June, 1967

    Directive [from Mao Zedong] Regarding Comrade Yao Wenyuan’s Visit to Albania

    Mao reminds Comrade Yao Wenyuan to remain humble on his upcoming trip to Albania for the sake of China's Red Guards.