How far do you agree that the Hundred Flowers campaign was a trick designed by Mao to trap his opponents?
The Hundred Flowers Campaign began in 1957 when Mao Zedong declared in a speech, “Let a hundred schools of thought contend,” effectively encouraging criticism from members of the Chinese Communist Party. After members began pointing out where the party had made mistakes, however, Mao suddenly reversed this new policy and began the Anti-Rightist Movement, condemning the critics whose opinions he had just previously invited. Was the Hundred Flowers Campaign a trick designed by Mao to trap his opponents? Mao reversed his policies, which people may use as proof that the campaign was a trick. Mao first announced his call for criticism to the members of the party on 27 February 1957. After they overcame their initial fears of being labelled ‘anti-party,’ members acquiesced to Mao’s request on a tremendous scale, sending millions of letters complaining of corruption, inefficiency, and lack of realism within the party. But then, suddenly, on 19 July 1957, only five months after its conception, Mao halted the campaign and began the Anti-Rightist Movement, a stark contrast to the Hundred Flowers Campaign. It was now a time of harsh suppression; those who had criticized the party were now reprimanded. This sudden and completely turnaround change in policy seems to suggest that the Hundred Flowers Campaign had been a deliberate manoeuvre to lure Mao’s enemies into the open, where they could be easily identified and removed during the Anti-Rightist Movement. Indeed, Mao seemed to have successfully trapped his opponents with this cunning trick. The harshness of the Anti-Rightist Movement also suggests that the campaign was a trick. Those who responded to Mao’s call for criticism most vehemently were now forced to withdraw their statements. Furthermore, thousands of party members were sent to ‘re-education camps,’ where some spent the next five or more years doing hard...
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