Zhao Ziyang

Daai Tou Laam Diary has written a fine review of a book titled The Era of Zhao Ziyang: Power Struggle in China, 1986-1988, with lots of interesting quotes and observations. As the title indicates, it focuses on just three years, ending before Hu Yaobang’s death and all the fun that followed.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

I think the Zhao Ziyang example (and Hu Yaobang before him, not to mention others) is a powerful warning for moderates in China (and China watchers). If you’re “moderate” and “reasonable” and it allows an upsurge of anti-party sentiment, you will soon find hardliners reasserting themselves, and you’ll be out on your ear in short order. Despite what everyone seems to assume, that’s not something that belongs in the past and can never reoccur … the system of Chinese government makes it a constant potential, and you could see a radical shift in direction in a very short space of time.

I don’t agree with the comment in that review that Mao was somehow trying to use the Cultural Revolution to remove conservative leftists, and it accidentally spilled over to take out the reformers as well … that’s just nonsense, and I think the evidence is sufficiently strong that I can call this a “fact” and not an opinion of mine.

November 17, 2004 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

I tend to agree with you — strongly, actually. The Cultural Revolution was about a lot of things (and mainly about restoring Mao’s bruised image following the horrific failures of the Great Leap Backward), and the comment you cite from sounds like a fantasy to me.

November 17, 2004 @ 9:35 pm | Comment

Mao told Edgar Snow in an interview in 1965 that bureaurcratic elements within the CCP were blocking Mao’s vision for China. (It’s a safe bet that some of Mao’s vision for China was driven by ego and loss of face after the failures of the GLF, which included loss of face to Deng and Liu.)

The problem of entrenched bureaucrats in the field have been a pain in Beijing’s a** (and Xi’an and Nanjing and every other capital) for as long as China has had a central government.

I don’t believe though that Mao had the vision in 1965 of creating ten years of virtual Civil War that would see the CCP pushed out of power in favour of the Red Guards.

I’ll write more about this though in the next book review from my latest library adventure, Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution by Yan JiaQi and Gao Gao translated by DWY Kwok. (The first edition of this book was banned in China during one of the blowbacks in 86-88.)

November 19, 2004 @ 3:12 am | Comment

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