Sufan movement

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The Sufan movement (肅反, against counterrevolutionaries) was a political campaign against political opponents in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong.[1] The term sufan is short for 肅清暗藏的反革命分子, and can roughly be taken as referring to a 'purge' of ideological heretics.[2] Historically, the earliest Chinese communist Sufan had been initiated by Zhang Guotao in 1932. The Sufan movement lasted from August 1955 to late 1956.

On 1 July 1955, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee issued a "Directive on launching a struggle to cleanse out hidden counter-revolutionary elements" (關於開展鬥爭肅 清暗藏的反革命分子的指示). On 25 August 1955,it issued "The directive on the thorough purge and cleansing of hidden counter-revolutionaries" (關於徹底肅清暗藏反革命分子的指示). The targets of directives like these were individuals inside the communist party, the government bureaucracy, and military personnel. This was in contrast to the earlier Zhen Fan movement that had mainly targeted former Kuomintang personnel.

The targets of Sufan[edit]

The People's Daily, in an attempt to provide justification for the purge, reported that ten percent of Communist Party members were secret traitors and needed to be purged. This number appears to have been taken as a quota for the number of arrests that needed to occur.[3]

There were three categories of Sufan targets:

  1. Ex-Kuomintang personnel, regardless of war captive or surrender.
  2. Anyone with landlord or wealthy families.
  3. Students and literati.[dubious ][citation needed]

In many if not all parts of China, the Sufan movement ended in late 1956. Jean-Louis Margolin writes in The Black Book of Communism that one source indicates 81,000 arrests during the campaign (which he claims is rather modest), while another gives 770,000 deaths. He concludes that there is no way to determine which is accurate.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lieberthal, Kenneth. (2003). Governing China: From Revolution to Reform, W.W. Norton & Co.; Second Edition.
  2. ^ According to Lin Yutang, 肅 (su) can be translated as 整肅 [zheng3su4]2, v.t., (in communist China) to purge.
  3. ^ Jean-Luc Domenach, "Chine: L'archipel oublie" (Paris: Fayard, 1992) , p 118
  4. ^ Stephane Courtois, et al. The Black Book of Communism. Harvard University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-674-07608-7 p. 485

External sources[edit]