The China Quarterly

Special Section on Rural Protests

Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries*

Yang Kuisong


Power seized with violence has to be maintained with violence. This truth has been repeatedly proved in the course of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. The suppression of the counterrevolutionary movement in the 1950–53 period was the first campaign launched by the PRC aimed at cleansing opposition elements. This article re-examines Mao Zedong's policies and practices, and the interaction between China's central and local authorities during the campaign. It assesses whether the campaign met its goals and its implications for the future use of suppression by the regime.


* This article draws on research first published in Yang Kuisong, “Mao Zedong yu ‘zhenya fangeming’ yundong,” in Chen Yongfa (ed.), Liang’an fentu: Lengzhan chuqi de zhengjing fazhan (Taibei: Zhongyang yanjiu jindai lishi yanjiusuo), 2006, pp, 31–77.