Andrew Walder, Stanford University
Zoom Webinar 7:30 (EST)
Some 50 years after its conclusion, many aspects of China’s Cultural Revolution remain obscure, despite the fact that it ranked among the largest political upheavals of the 20th century. Perhaps the most puzzling is the two years of armed warfare between rebel factions that spread across China after a wave of rebel power seizures overthrew local governments in early 1967. Official sources indicate that some 250,000 people died in battles between civilian factions during this period, and another 1.3 million died in political campaigns and military operations to suppress the fighting and restore order. This talk provides an evidence-based overview of these conflicts, based on information extracted from 2,246 local histories published in China since the late 1980s. It addresses two puzzling features of this poorly understood period of recent Chinese history: why did antagonistic factions form, and why did violence break out and prove so difficult to suppress?