Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

Synopsis

The chief target of China's infamous Cultural Revolution, Liu Shaoqi is one of the tragic figures of the Chinese revolution By addressing the issues that decimated China's monolithic elite in the late 1960s, Lowell Dittmer illuminates not only the life and fate of this fascinating leader but also the policy-making process of a revolutionary state facing the diverging exigencies of economic modernization and political development In this new edition, Mr Dittmer tells the end of the story -- the death of Liu Shaoqi and the fate of Wang Guangmei (Liu's wife and a notable figure herself) and other members of Liu's family and inner circle -- and the legacy and relevance of Liu's contribution to China in the late twentieth century.

Excerpt

Why this book? There are two reasons for a second edition. the first is that the true significance of Liu Shaoqi in Chinese political history has not yet been fully appreciated. It is an unfortunate fact of political life that a large quantity of plausible falsehood can outweigh a small quantity of truth. the 1980 attempt at official rehabilitation, though certainly well-intended, has not entirely erased the impact of ten years of calumniation--even among many well-informed Chinese. Though Liu is no longer treated like the rat whose mere presence evokes cries to "kill it," he is still often dismissed as a supporter of the Soviet model, a planner, or a dour martinet. None of these oversimplifications do him justice. in a way, Liu is far more politically meaningful now than when he was a household word: whereas he previously could be considered a major victim of the mass movement, or as the subject of one of history's fascinating counterfactual conditionals--what might have been, the road not taken--since the advent of the reforms he must also be studied in order to understand what is, for it is his thinking that underlies much of Deng's reform program.

The second reason for a revised edition is that new materials have come to light. Since Liu's rehabilitation, a significant memorial cum biographical literature has appeared that illuminates important and hitherto obscure facets of Liu's character and career. This new material necessitated a far more comprehensive and detailed revision than I had originally foreseen, simply in order to ensure factual accuracy. the essential themes and conclusions remain the same, with one exception. in the first edition, Liu had to be defended against the charge of conspiring to seize power from Mao, a charge that provided the animus for Liu's disgrace. Since that time, particularly since the reversal of verdicts on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), the plausibility of that charge has diminished, and the suspicion has gained credence that it was actually the Maoists who conspired to bring down Liu and Deng. This is not the place to go into detail, but my own conclusion is that both conspiracy and spontaneity theories must be included in a fully satisfactory explanation. I submit that there are two . . .

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