|History of the People's|
Republic of China (PRC)
|Generations of leadership|
The Anti-Rightist Campaign (simplified Chinese: 反右运动; traditional Chinese: 反右運動; pinyin: Fǎnyòu Yùndòng) in the People's Republic of China, which lasted from 1957 to roughly 1959, was a political campaign to purge alleged "Rightists" within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and abroad. The campaign was launched by Chairman Mao Zedong, but Deng Xiaoping and Peng Zhen also played an important role. The Anti-Rightist Campaign significantly damaged democracy in China and turned the country into a de facto one-party state.
The definition of rightists was not always consistent, sometimes including critics to the left of the government, but officially referred to those intellectuals who appeared to favor capitalism, or were against one-party rule as well as collectivization. According to China's official statistics during the "Boluan Fanzheng" period, the campaign resulted in the political persecution of at least 550,000 people. Researchers estimate that the actual number of victims is between 1 and 2 million or even higher. Deng Xiaoping admitted that there were mistakes during the Anti-Rightist Campaign, and most victims had received rehabilitation since 1959.
The Anti-Rightist Campaign was a reaction against the Hundred Flowers Campaign which had promoted pluralism of expression and criticism of the government, even though initiation of both campaigns was controlled by Mao Zedong and were integrally connected. Going perhaps as far back as the Long March there had been resentment against "rightists" inside the CCP, for example, Zhang Bojun.
The first wave of attacks began immediately following the end of the Hundred Flowers movement in July 1957. By the end of the year, 300,000 people had been labeled as rightists, including the writer Ding Ling. Future premier Zhu Rongji, then working in the State Planning Commission, was purged in 1958. Most of the accused were intellectuals. The penalties included informal criticism, hard labor, and in some cases, execution.
The second part of the campaign followed the Lushan Conference of July 2 – August 16, 1959, a meeting of top party leaders. The meeting condemned the PRC's defense minister, General Peng Dehuai, a critic of the Great Leap Forward.
Criticism by Mao
Administering several provinces in the southwest, Deng proved so vicious in liquidating alleged counter-revolutionaries that even the Chairman felt obliged to write to him. Mao urged Deng Xiaoping to slow down the campaign's body count, saying:
If we kill too many, we will forfeit public sympathy and a shortage of labor power will arise.
After Mao's death in 1976, many of the convictions were revoked during the Boluan Fanzheng period. At that time, under leader Deng Xiaoping, the government announced that it needed capitalists' experience to get the country moving economically, and subsequently the guilty verdicts of thousands of counterrevolutionary cases were overturned — affecting many of those accused of rightism and who had been persecuted for that crime the previous twenty two years. This came despite the fact that Deng Xiaoping and Peng Zhen were among the most enthusiastic prosecutors of the movement during the "First Wave" of 1957.
Censorship in China
In 2009, leading up the 60th anniversary of the PRC's founding, a number of media outlets in China listed the most significant events of 1957 but downplayed or omitted reference to the Anti-Rightist Movement. Websites were reportedly notified by authorities that the topic of the movement was extremely sensitive.
- Zhang Bojun, China's "number one rightist"
- Luo Longji, China's "number two rightist"
- Huang Qixiang
- Chen Mingshu
- Chen Mengjia
- Zhu Rongji, later Premier of China
- Wu Zuguang, playwright
- Qian Weichang
- Gu Zhun
- Long Yun, former warlord of Yunnan
- Great Leap Forward
- Cultural Revolution
- List of CCP Campaigns
- Communist mass killings
- Communist terrorism
- Boluan Fanzheng
- Yan'an Rectification Movement
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