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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 26, 1969

    Letter from Mario Crema to Pietro Nenni

    Crema outlines the current trends of Chinese foreign policy as Chinese mission leaders abroad gradually return and border tensions with the USSR arise.

  • October, 1969

    Polish-Soviet Talks in Moscow

    Excerpts from Polish-Soviet talks that focus on the China question. Brezhnev posits that the Chinese were the source of ideological divergence, and more specifically that their attitude has progressed to anti-Sovietism and anti-communism. Included is a report from a meeting with Zhou Enlai, who in discussing Czechoslovakia said a "process of bourgeoisie transformation and corruption was taking place over there, which is normal for all of the socialist countries." He attributed the cultural revolution with cutting off the roots of corruption in China.

  • October 06, 1969

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Note of Asia-Oceania Department, 'Sino-French Relations'

    Following the peak of the Cultural Revolution, the French Foreign Ministry concludes that Sino-French relations "have shown signs of détente, which, in the current context, represents important progress."

  • December 29, 1969

    Note on Exchanges of Opinions by the Ambassadors and Acting Ambassadors of Hungary, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and Mongolia on the Subject of 'The PRC Position vis-a-vis the Socialist Countries' on 21 November and 3 December

    Ambassadors of Hungary, GDR, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, and Mongolia discuss the development of socialism and Maoism in the PRC in relation to other countries in the socialist camp.

  • March, 1970

    Report on the China Problem Following the 9th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party

    This study addresses aspects of Chinese domestic and foreign policies after the 9th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Internal party disputes and undemocratic structures are said to characterize the Chinese leadership. The document offers an analysis of the socio-political state of affairs in China and states that the delay in economic growth is due to violations of the economic principles of Socialism. As far as its foreign policy is concerned, China is strengthening its military potential; Beijing's intensified relations with Western countries are condemned.

  • March, 1970

    CC CPSU International Department, Note on the China Problem Following the 9th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party

    This study addresses aspects of Chinese domestic and foreign policies after the 9th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. Internal party disputes and undemocratic structures are said to characterize the Chinese leadership. The document offers an analysis of the socio-political state of affairs in China and states that the delay in economic growth is due to violations of the economic principles of Socialism. As far as its foreign policy is concerned, China is strengthening its military potential; Beijing's intensified relations with Western countries are condemned.

  • August 10, 1970

    Opinions from the State Council on Correctly Administering the Korean Nationals Issue

    The State Council expresses concern over complaints of discrimination against Korean nationals in China and specifies the correct policies to administer to Korean nationals in China.

  • June 25, 1971

    Minutes of the Romanian Politburo Meeting Concerning Nicolae Ceauşescu's Visit to China, North Korea, Mongolia, and Vietnam

    These are the minutes of a meeting of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party discussing Romanian leader Nicolae Ceauşescu's 1971 visit to China. Ceauşescu reports on his visits to Chinese enterprises, universities, and laboratories, and acknowledges the achievements of the Cultural Revolution. The report on China is followed by comments on his subsequent visits to North Korea, Vietnam, and Mongolia. Finally, the discussion turns to Moscow's criticism of Ceauşescu's anti-Soviet statements during his stay in the Middle East.

  • January, 1972

    The International Activities of the Chinese Leadership and Conclusions for the Practice of the GDR's Relations with the PR China

    The GDR Foreign Ministry outlines the current shifts in the PRC's foreign policy within the international community under the Mao group.

  • October 11, 1973

    Meeting of Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Zhou Enlai at the State Guest House (Diaoyutai)

    Zhou Enlai offers Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau an extensive history of the Chinese Civil War and Chinese Revolution. Zhou also comments on China's foreign policy positions toward and views on the Soviet Union, nuclear war, Bangladesh, revisionism, and great power hegemony, among other topics.

  • October 13, 1973

    Verbatim Transcript of the Fourth Meeting between Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Zhou Enlai

    In their final talk, Trudeau and Zhou Enlai discuss Sino-Canadian trade, the Cultural Revolution, and the status of Chinese in Canada.

  • October 30, 1973

    Memorandum on the Conversation between Kim Il Sung and Todor Zhivkov

    Todor Zhivkov, First Secretary of the Bulgarian Communist Party, reports on his meeting with Kim Il Sung. Zhivkov and Kim discussed global detente and the Cold War, Chinese-North Korean relations, collective security in Asia, North Korea's views of COMECON, Korean unification, and factionalism in the Korean Workers' Party.

  • July 06, 1976

    Current Situation of Chinese Party Leadership

    Discusses at length the issues and struggles in China resulting after the death of several leaders such as Zhou Enlai, and now with Mao Zedong in power.

  • March 25, 1984

    Cable from Ambassador Katori to the Foreign Minister, 'Prime Minster Visit to China (Conversation with Chairman Deng Xiaoping)'

    Deng Xiaoping talks about his rise within the Chinese Communist Party, calling the Cultural Revolution the "most difficult experience" in his long career.