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Mao Tse-tung (Mao Ze-dong) and the Party Debate on a Strategy for China's National Development

A memorandum that summarizes the main debates within the CCP leadership over strategy of national development. A part of President Ford's briefing book for meeting with Chairman Mao in December 1975.
December 1, 1975

Mao Tse-tung's (Mao Ze-dong) Cultural Revolution purge of high leaders of the Chinese Communist Party represented, in part, the culmination of more than a decade of debate over the most appropriate policies for modernizing peasant China. What began in the mid-1950s as disagreement over economic policy evolved into a conflict of basic differences in the conception of a "socialist transformation" for Chinese society. By the early 1960s this debate began to pass into matters of personal authority and in 1964 Mao raised the issue of succession to his leadership. The aging Party Chairman had come to fear that his policies would be repudiated by long-time Party colleagues, just as Khrushchev had repudiated Stalin. The succession issue directly shaped Mao's Cultural Revolution purge of the Party, and continues to be a major source of contention within the post-Cultural Revolution leadership. It is likely that this issue is at the center of the current instability evident within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

This memorandum summarizes the main lines of debate within the CCP leadership over the question of a strategy of national development, and points out how Mao Tse-tung's forceful political initiatives of the 1950s led other Party leaders to attempt to restrict the Party Chairman's power in the early 1960s thus setting the stage for the Cultural Revolution.

Click here to read the document.