In 1966, Mao’s Red Book of quotations was used as a textbook in the schools. Shao Ailing, a head teacher in Shanghai said, “The pupils began to realize that all the changes taking place in their families, in school, in Shanghai and China were brought about by Chairman Mao.”
Mao encouraged students to attack authority and the leadership of the Communist Party. This advice came from the “George Washington” of China, the man who had delivered on his promises to the peasants and brought them medicine and land reforms—something the emperors and Chiang Kai-shek had never done.
Zhang Baoqing, an early Red Guard member in Beijing, said, “Chairman Mao started the Cultural Revolution to keep up the momentum for change. We thought if we followed Mao, we could not go wrong.”
Mao motivated millions of students from speeches in Tiananmen Square. This time it wasn’t the rural peasants. It was China’s urban youth, who were too young to remember Mao’s mistakes from the Great Leap Forward.
Student anger focused on Mao’s rivals, President Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Even small children were taught to denounce Liu. Then anyone in power was denounced. The structure of the Communist Party collapsed. Schoolteachers were attacked and tortured by their students. Up to a million were killed or driven to suicide.
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