Top-Rated Free Essay

Mao Zedong's Hundred Flower Movememt

Good Essays
In the 1950’s Mao Zedong’s ‘Hundred Flower Movement’ came far from achieving its goal of improving Chinese Society, by having intellectuals criticise the government and its policies. In order to prove that the Hundred Flower Movement was unsuccessful, this essay will exhibit why Mao believed it would work, as well as how he carried it out and the resulting affect that spread across China afterwards.
The Hundred Flower Movement was a campaign spanning from 1956-1957 in which the Chinese Communist Party became expectant of a variety of views on issues regarding national politics. The name of the campaign originated from a poem “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend”, and was launched under the slogan “Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.” It began as a small campaign, aimed at intellectuals and local bureaucracies with non-communist-associated officials who were refused the right to speak out against any policies and problems within the government. The Hundred Flower Movement began under the leadership of Premier Zhou Enlai. The first attempts, however, were unsuccessful as nobody grew courageous enough to speak out openly.
It was not until Zhou Enlai emphasized the need for a larger campaign in 1956, that Mao Zedong superseded Enlai to take control of the campaign. Mao supported the idea at first, saying “The government needs criticism from its people. Without this criticism the government will not be able to function as the ‘People’s Democratic Dictatorship’. Thus the basis of a healthy government lost... We must learn from old mistakes, take all forms of healthy criticism, and do what we can to answer these criticisms.” Enlai’s idea was to promote new forms of arts and cultural institutions after criticism on the government and China’s national issues were given, however Mao saw this as an opportunity to promote socialism. He was extremely interested in the idea that socialist ideology was the prevailing ideology over capitalism, even in non-communist China. In a speech made in 1957, Mao said “Our society cannot back down, it could only progress... Criticism of the bureaucracy is pushing the government towards the better.” The speech encouraged people to vent all criticisms of a “constructive” nature, and not those of a “hateful and destructive” nature.
The campaign publicly began late 1956. In the opening stages, the issues addressed by intellectuals were unimportant in comparison to those which were available for debate. The central government received few criticisms, but plenty of letters containing unadventurous advice. Zhou Enlai received some of the letters, and realised that the campaign was not progressing as he had hoped. He spoke to Mao about needing more encouragement to lead intellectuals into discussion, leading Mao to announce that criticism was “preferred” and he began to mount pressure on people who did not give it constructively. This is where some say the campaign truly began, with students from Peking University creating a “democratic wall” in which they put up posters and letters criticising the Chinese Communist Party. “They protested CCP control over intellectuals, the harshness of previous mass campaigns such as that against counterrevolutionaries, the slavish following of Soviet models, the low standards of living in China, the proscription of foreign literature, economic corruption among part cadres, and the fact that the ‘Party members [enjoyed] many privileges which make them a race apart’” [1]. Enlai initially took in some of the criticism, while Mao thought the letters violated the “constructive” level and that they were “harmful and uncontrollable” and refused.
In early 1957, it was decided the campaign was becoming too difficult to control. Some ideas suggested by intellectuals were “the Chinese Communist Party should give up power,” “intellectuals are virtually being tortured while living in a communist society,” “there is a total lack of freedom if the Chinese Communist Party is to continue on ruling the country,” “the country should separate with each political party controlling a zone of its own” and “each political party in China should rule in transitional governments, each with a 4 year term.” Of course, Mao thought these ideas absurd, and in July 1957 he ordered a halt on the campaign. It is unclear if Mao intended on the campaign being a trap for those with anti-Chinese-Communist-Party thoughts or if he was genuinely curious as to the opinions of the nation and merely shocked with the results.
Resulting from the Hundred Flower Movement were the persecutions of intellectuals, officials, students, artists and dissidents labelled “rightists” during the Anti-Rightist Movement following – during which over 550,000 ‘rightists’ were imprisoned, demoted or fired, sent to labour or re-education camps, tortured or killed). The Hundred Flower Movement also made an impact on Mao’s ideological perception. It discouraged dissent, and made intellectuals incredibly disinclined to voice their opinions in the future.
The Hundred Flower Movement was the first of its kind in the People’s Republic of China in that the government asked the opinions of the general public and took criticism. Although thought to be helpful to Chinese leadership, the campaign was unsuccessful and it led to a huge loss of individual rights. Even though its true nature has been questioned, it can be generally concluded that the events shocked the central communist leadership and will remain a lesson to future leadership parties.

Notes:
1. Spence, Jonathan D. The Search For Modern China. 2nd edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1990 (pp. 539-43)

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Hundred Flowers Campaign

    • 354 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Hundred Flowers Campaign, also termed the Hundred Flowers Movement, (simplified Chinese: 百花运动; traditional Chinese: 百花運動; pinyin: Bǎihuā yùndòng) was a period in 1956 in the People's Republic of China[1] during which the Communist Party of China (CPC) encouraged its citizens to openly express their opinions of the communist regime. Differing views and solutions to national policy were encouraged based on the famous expression by Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong: "The policy of letting a hundred…

    • 354 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    the day was so gloomy, the wind was so bitter, but also tucked snow. Tomorrow would be the New Year's Day, but those of us junior high school "graduated""Intellectual Youths" faced with important choice, decision, must act, could not wait. Mao Zedong's the highest order of "the intellectual youth moves to the countryside, to accept the poor and lower-middle peasants re-education" had already seen in various newspaper headlines. Huge banners, sharp slogans were posted everywhere. Every family…

    • 1278 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mao Zedong

    • 2132 Words
    • 9 Pages

    Mao Zedong or Mao Tse-tung Pronounced As: mou dzu-doong , 1893-1976, founder of the People's Republic of China. One of the most prominent Communist theoreticians, Mao's ideas on revolutionary struggle and guerrilla warfare were extremely influential, especially among Third World revolutionaries. Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the…

    • 2132 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    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…

    • 863 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    The Chinese Intelligentsia during the Hundred Flowers and Anti-rightist Movement After the coming to power of the CCP and the formation of the People 's Republic of China, thorough and drastic changes began to take place in China. A country which had been founded on a mixture of Confucianism and a very spiritual lifestyle, with ancestor worship and even praying to the god of a particular object, which had went through various revolutions and changings of the guard, began to follow the influence…

    • 2086 Words
    • 9 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mao Reading Response

    • 1128 Words
    • 5 Pages

    Mao Zedong Readings Response Paper Being one of the most well-known characters of Chinese modern history, Mao Zedong has been constantly debated in both Western and Eastern worlds. Like all historic figures, Mao Zedong has been seen in different light: sometimes under glorification and reverence, and sometimes as a devil that dragged China into one of its darkest eras. These contradicting opinions can be easily seen in the assigned readings of this course. While Mao Zedong is generally praised…

    • 1128 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    The Life of Mao Zedong

    • 1410 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Alyssa Franco 11/28/12 Mao Zedong is considered to be one of the most controversial political leaders of the twentieth century. He has been known both as a savior and a tyrant to the Chinese people. From his strategic success of the Long March, to his humiliating failure of the Great Leap Forward, to the Cultural Revolution that shocked the country and took countless lives, Mao has significantly influenced the result of what China is today. From humble origins, Mao Zedong rose to absolute power…

    • 1410 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mao Zedong Essay

    • 1907 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Global history Pd 7. Mao Zedong Hero or Villain?! Through out all of history we have seen so many heroes and villains all over the world. But one place in particular was in China, with a leader who goes by the name of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong was a well-known communist leader in china who actually lead the Chinese Communist Party. He is one of the most important people/historical figures in history. At first he was helping China at the beginning of his ruling, nut then his actions…

    • 1907 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Mao Dun

    • 9646 Words
    • 39 Pages

    Mao Tun and the Wild Roses: A Study of the Psychology of Revolutionary Commitment Author(s): Yu-shih Chen Reviewed work(s): Source: The China Quarterly, No. 78 (Jun., 1979), pp. 296-323 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the School of Oriental and African Studies Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/652957 . Accessed: 21/02/2012 09:59 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms…

    • 9646 Words
    • 39 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mao Zedong

    • 1858 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Mao Zedong is one of the most controversial leaders of the twentieth century. He has been known both as a savior and a tyrant to the Chinese people. From his tactical success of the Long March to his embarrassing failure of the Great Leap Forward, Mao has greatly influenced the result of what China is today. Most of Mao's major successes have been in the CCP's rise to power, while Mao's failures have come at a time when the CCP was in power. <br><br>Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893 is Shaoshan…

    • 1858 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Good Essays