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Nanjing’s ‘Second Cultural Revolution’ of 1974

Dong Guoqiang
China Quarterly
Nanjing’s ‘Second Cultural Revolution’ of 1974
Publication Documents
Dong-Walder CQ 2012 (650.52 KB)

China experienced extensive civil strife in 1974, as elite factionalism during the “criticize Lin Biao and Confucius” campaign revived popular contention in the provinces. Past research has characterized these conflicts as a “second Cultural Revolution” – an offensive by resurgent red guards and rebels to resist the restoration of purged civilian officials to powerful posts. In Nanjing, however, the conflicts were of an entirely different nature. Civilian cadres directed the campaign against army officers who still dominated civilian government throughout the province. Popular protests in Nanjing were not led by former rebels, whose ranks had been decimated by unusually harsh military suppression campaigns, but were instead protests by ordinary citizens who had suffered in the purges and rustication campaigns of the late 1960s. While the campaign in cities like Hangzhou and Wuhan was an offensive by resurgent rebels against civilian officials, in Nanjing civilian officials used the campaign to ensure their victory over military rivals. The Hangzhou and Wuhan pattern revived the politics of the 1960s, while the Nanjing pattern anticipated the protests against Cultural Revolution abuses characteristic of the end of the Mao era.