Rebellion and Factionalism in a Chinese Province: Zhejiang, 1966-1976

By Keith Forster | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

Up until now there has been no detailed study of the politics of the decadelong Cultural Revolution at the sub-national level. Such a hiatus has meant that our understanding of these years has largely been conditioned by generalizations based on studies of national politics, or research taking Guangdong province as its subject. Guangdong, with its proximity to Hong Kong, distance from Beijing and history of antipathy toward central rule, may represent the exception rather than the rule. Essays describing the early years of the Cultural Revolution in a number of provinces were published almost two decades ago.1 These appeared in a period when China's doors were shut tight to the outside world and access to provincial newspapers and other primary source material was extremely limited. As for the period of the early to mid 1970s, there is an even greater lacuna in the literature.

This study, by a detailed analysis of events in the important eastern province of Zhejiang -- a province located in the heartland of Han Chinese political, economic and social power and culture -- attempts to fill the gap. In essence, it presents a revised view of the influence of the influence wielded by local rebels turned radical politicians in provincial affairs. While not making any dogmatic assertions about the applicability of these findings to other areas of China, the study suggests that this interpretation may well have validity beyond the borders of Zhejiang. The book describes and analyzes the nature and composition of the mass organizations which were established at the end of 1966 and traces the evolution of their structure, tactics and activities over the ten-year period. It assesses, through a careful sifting of the available evidence, the nature and extent of their power and influence in the province, particularly in the early to mid 1970s. The study also investigates and draws out the links between prominent personnel of the mass organizations and central and provincial civilian and military party leaders.

It documents in some detail the methods which the rebels used in the political campaigns of 1973-75 to undermine the authority of the provincial leadership. It points to the organizational power of the local radicals as manifest in their control over the appointments mechanism and their ability to use officially- sanctioned organizations as vehicles to challenge and undermine the provincial

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