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China: Under Mao - 1965-1976 - How Far The Communist Government Was A Dictatorship

One part of GCSE History covers China under Mao. One subject students will focus on is how far the Communist government was a dictatorship.

The latter part of Mao's leadership of China's Communist government is dominated by the Cultural Revolution launched in 1966, and officially ending in 1968. To many this was an act of dictatorship. When matters got out of hand, Mao had to call in the army to re-establish order.

Play this quiz and decide for yourself whether Mao's Communist government was indeed a dictatorship.

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  1. "The Red Detachment of Women" was the title of a work of art that received official recognition under Mao. What form did it take?
    All kinds of artistic expression were expected to depict either Mao or an industrial or agricultural workplace - rather like "Socialist Realism" in Soviet Russia
  2. Mao announced his successor at the new Party Congress which opened in April 1969. Who was this to be?
    Dictators often prefer to announce their successor in advance, to try to prevent squabbles on their death
  3. In 1968 the government introduced a compulsory "rustication" programme for students and young professionals, and 12 million people took part in this scheme between 1968 and 1976. What did rustication involve?
    Mao regarded students and professional people as decadent, and potentially subversive. He only really trusted peasants
  4. The Cultural Revolution involved numerous attacks on people and buildings. Which one of the following was not desecrated in this period?
    Cultural sites were especially targeted: shrines, seats of learning, buildings associated with previous regimes, and foreign property
  5. What do the letters GPCR stand for?
    Mao believed in "permanent" revolution, and by 1966 he feared that the reactionary middle class, especially university academics, was exerting too much influence. Accordingly, a campaign was launched to remove all vestiges of foreign, or historic Chinese, culture. Chaos ensued, and the military had to be called in to restore order. It was a while before things calmed down and China reverted to its pre-1966 state again
  6. Which paramilitary group, composed of young people, was encouraged by Mao and his cronies to militant action from 1966?
    These young people attacked and intimidated perceived opponents of the regime. They threatened foreigners, damaged cultural icons and quickly became out of control. In July 1968 they themselves were purged, and the PLA enforced their demise
  7. In furtherance of the cult of personality, Mao was filmed swimming in a Chinese river in July 1966. He intended to scotch rumours of his ill health, and to spread an image of robust good health and power. In which river did this incident take place?
    Mao was in fact unwell, and he became more unwell in the years before his death in 1976. The swimming incident complemented the familiar propaganda that depicted him as superhuman: places were named after him, and sculptures and portraits of him were displayed in both public and private places
  8. Those who were found guilty in self-criticism sessions were expected to wear a particular form of head gear. What was this?
    Much emphasis was placed in the Chinese Communist Party on confessions and humiliation
  9. Throughout this period the Chinese Communist Party published the official newspaper which quickly achieved a monopoly. What was this publication called?
    There was no free speech in China, certainly after the Cultural Revolution
  10. Mao identified "5 black categories", which the Cultural Revolution was intended to eliminate. Which of the following four groups was not in the original list?
    Anyone who harked back to the past in any respect - culturally, intellectually, economically or politically, was at risk

Author: Edward Towne

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