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From Red Guards to Thinking Individuals: China’s Youth in the Cultural Revolution

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Poster depicting the Red Guard cheering and waving slogans around Chairman Mao.
Poster depicting the Red Guard cheering and waving slogans around Chairman Mao. Image source: http//

Common scenes in photographs and documentary films of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) are the human waves of male and female youths on Tiananmen Square eagerly presenting themselves as if they were graced by an audience with their idol, China’s ruler, Mao Zedong. In their military uniforms, army caps, and Red Guard armbands, they wave Mao’s “little red book,” with tears in their eyes, chanting “Long Live Chairman Mao!” These Red Guards of middle, high school, and university students served as the spearhead for Mao Zedong in his Cultural Revolution: a bloody political purge of Party cadres from top down, an anti-humanitarian tragedy in the name of revolution to eradicate everything old and Western, and a movement in the rhetoric of creating an egalitarian society. It affected a nation of 800 million people, and consumed the energy of China’s youth even in distant parts of the country, but it resulted in the transformation of the Red Guard generation from the tool of Mao into thinking individuals.


Directed by Chairman Mao, the May Sixteenth (1966) Notification of the Central Party Committee “sounded the bugle” to advance the Cultural Revolution, which was essentially Mao’s purge of his politi­cal rival, Liu Shaoqi, the president of China, and Liu’s supporters over power as well as policy issues.1 Its rhetoric declared a war on all “aca­demic authorities,” accusing them of opposing socialism, and repre­senting ideas and culture of the bourgeois and exploiting classes. In the arsenal of weapons supporting Mao’s Cultural Revolution, citi­zens loyal to Mao used big-character posters, public debates, criti­cism, and denunciation.

The response to Mao’s call was swift. On May 25, 1966, in­structed by the Maoist radical faction at the top, Nie Yuanzi, the Party branch secretary of the Philosophy Department of Peking University and six colleagues put up a big-character poster accusing the univer­sity authority of misleading the Cultural Revolution on campus. Four days later on May 29, a group of students from senior cadre families in the Qinghua University Middle School formed a Red Guard or­ganization in rebellion against their teachers and administrators. Within days, several other middle schools in Beijing had their Red Guard groups established. On June 1, at 8 p.m., the central radio sta­tion, through its nationwide network, broadcast Nie’s poster. The Peo­ple’s Daily published the poster with a commentary the following day. The Cultural Revolution began in earnest, causing chaos in schools. Mao was away from Beijing for about fifty days during this period. In his absence, the central government under Liu Shaoqi sent its work teams in the universities and middle schools in Beijing trying to dissolve the rebel groups. Liu had been clueless that Mao’s Cultural Revolution had him as its target and intended these rebels as its shock force. In his letter to the Red Guards of the Qinghua University Mid­dle School dated August 1, 1966, Mao openly stated “to rebel against reactionaries is correct. I want to extend to you warm support!’ With Mao’s endorsement, Red Guard organizations spread nationwide. Red Guard groups in middle schools, formed by those from senior cadre and working class families, became the dominant force in the Chair­man’s rebellion against the Party establishment he had once encour­aged and now wished to destroy.

In August and September 1966, “red terror” seized China. The Red Guards attacked the “enemies of the people”—Party government cadres classified as “capitalist roaders,” teachers, artists, writers, intellectuals, former capitalists, landlords, the so-called rightists who were labeled for their open criticisms of the Party in 1957, and others labeled as hooligans and criminals. The Red Guards went searching their houses and confiscating their property. Violence, bloodshed, killing, and suicide occurred.2 The Maoist Cultural Rev­olution authorities sanctioned or even directed the Red Guards’ vio­lence. Particularly noticeable was the violence of female Red Guards. The first educator was beaten to death at the hands of female Red Guards of the elite Girls Middle School attached to Beijing Teachers University on August 5, 1966. These female Red Guards tortured Bian Zhongyun, the vice principal, and other administrators for three hours. Bian died soon after. Although notified of this incident that same day, the Beijing and Central authorities did nothing. Instead, they praised the rapidly spreading Red Guard movement.3

On August 18, 1966, Mao gave his now famous “audience” to the thousands of Red Guards on Tiananmen Square. On the rostrum of the Tiananmen, Song Binbin, the head of the Red Guards from Bian Zhongyun’s school, presented a Red Guard armband to the Chair­man. Mao asked her name, and when told that her name meant gen­tle and cultured, he remarked: “you want to be militant ( Yaowu).” So Song changed her name to “Yaowu:m The next day, the Red Guards of Beijing middle schools embarked on their destruction of the Four Olds (old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits), changing street names and shop signs to conform to this new revolution. They smashed religious statues, destroyed temples and traditional architecture, and burned books. With the slogan “to rebel is justified:’ the Red Guards traveled nationwide, “igniting the fires of revolution” in urban and rural areas, including Tibet and other ethnic minority re­gions. Mao inflamed their enthusiasm by giving more “audiences” to a total of twelve million Red Guards from all over China on the Square between August and late November of 1966.5

The Red Guards of the middle and high schools, aged thirteen to eighteen in 1966, belonged to the first generation born in Communist China. In her influential Children of Mao, the sociologist Anita Chan explores how, even before the Cultural Revolution, education had al­ready politicized these youths and induced in them what she has called an “authoritarian personality”—a mixture of political fanati­cism and blind worship of Mao, as well as the spirit of self-sacrifice and concern for the public interest.6 Such a personality made them passionate participants in the Cultural Revolution. Historians have speculated on the exceptional violence of female Red Guards. Some argue that these young girls grew up under the policy of state femi­nism, the system of state support of gender equality through laws and the employment of women in the state sector. This instilled in them a sense of gender equality, and erased any sense of gender difference. For many young women, it meant that to behave like a man was a way to exert power.7 Thus, in the early days of the Cultural Revolu­tion, female Red Guards gained confidence and enhanced their mil­itant, masculine image with their army uniforms, army caps, and wide belts. Others see it as a result of a contradiction within Communist society. While China’s popular culture valorized female militancy and romanticized women warriors in posters, films and the arts, in real­ity, the traditional images of women as subordinate, gentle, quiet, and shy still prevailed. The violent participation of female Red Guards can thus be seen as “a rebellion against conventions of female behav­ior . .” and part of the effort to eradicate old ideas.8

Class-consciousness was strong among the Red Guard genera­tion. The Mao government divided people into three broad cate­gories. On the one side were the “red fives”—communist cadres, soldiers, martyrs, workers, and poor and lower middle class peas­ants. On the other were the “blacks”—former landlords, rich peas­ants, the Nationalists, bad elements (criminals), and rightists. In between was the gray category of clerks, professionals, and intellec­tuals. The system placed the “reds” at the top of the political and so­cial hierarchy, discriminated against the “blacks,” and urged the children of the bad classes to “draw a line” between themselves and their parents, and to reform themselves into true revolutionaries.9 This caste-like system instilled in the children of the senior cadre families a sense of being born “red: and of being masters of the society, and they initiated the Red Guard movement. However, stu­dents of the other “problematic” categories, also imbued with Mao’s theory that class struggle existed in the socialist society and that the Cultural Revolution was the life-and-death struggle between the pro­letariat and capitalist, insisted that they, too, had the right to defend Mao and to rebel.10 They formed their own Red Guard groups and threw themselves into attacking class enemies, even if the victims were their own parents.11

Image shows crowd of women with books in their hands
Tibetan women “revolutionised.” Image source: MIT Tibet Forum at http://tibetforum.mitedu/view topic.php?f=&t=551.

With the slogan “to rebel is justified,” the Red Guards traveled nationwide, “igniting the fires of revolution” in urban and rural areas, including Tibet and other ethnic minority regions.

In their memories and reminiscences, members of the Red Guard generation reflect on their behaviors in the early Cultural Revolution. Some maintain that their enthusiastic participation was out of anger at the Party bureaucracy. Wei Guangqi and other former Red Guards hold that the reason why the Cultural Revolution could involve millions of people in such a short time was the deep conflicts between the privi­leged cadre class and the common people.12 To many, the appeal of Mao Zedong came from his image as a rebel against Chinese tradition and authority. Mao criticized China’s educational system, attacking its elit­ist tendency. Widely circulated through informal channels, Mao’s crit­icisms resonated strongly among students, encouraging them to rebel.13 Many remember the rebellion against the authorities as a rite of passage in their adolescent years.

Image shows three people holding the book of Mao with the river behind them.
Educated youth must go to the countryside to receive re-education from the poor and lower middle class peasants! 1969. image source: http://chinesepostersmet/thernestup-to-the-mountainsphp.

… with middle school graduates sent into the countryside and university graduates assigned jobs or sent to work on farms, Mao Zedong brought to an end the increasingly trouble­some Red Guard movement.


By December 1966, men and women in factories, government offices, and other work units had formed their own mass organizations. In January 1967, starting in Shanghai and then in other cities, these local Red Guards and rebel mass organizations seized power from the of­ficial Party and government apparatus, but they, in turn, were unable to maintain control when challenged by other mass organizations. Faced with the chaotic situation, and having achieved his goal of over­throwing Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping, and other rivals, Mao called in the People’s Liberation Army to restore order. The army and newly created Workers Propaganda Teams went to schools, provincial gov­ernments, and other institutions, establishing the revolutionary com­mittees in place of the paralyzed bureaucratic apparatus.

By early 1967, the Red Guards of senior cadre families had become a threat to the Maoist leadership. When their own parents suffered per­secution, they rebelled against the leaders of the Cultural Revolution, Madam Mao (Jiang Qing), in particular. Jiang ordered their suppression while she and the Cultural Revolution Leading Group supported the Red Guards from other social backgrounds, using them to continue the elim­ination of the so-called “capitalist roaders.” That fall, in October 1967, frustrated by Red Guard factional struggles and eager to search for an al­ternative to bring about true socialism, a group of ten Beijing middle school Red Guards volunteered to settle in Inner Mongolia as ordinary la­borers. A month later, a group of 1,200 Red Guards of Beijing middle schools volunteered to settle on ChinSs northern frontiers in Inner Mon­golia and Heilongjiang. A year later, on December 22, 1968, Mao Zedong issued a directive, urging students to go to the countryside to receive re­education from the poor and lower middle class peasants. The media glo­rified the Red Guards as having assumed a new historic mission. In reality, with middle school graduates sent into the countryside and university graduates assigned jobs or sent to work on farms, Mao Zedong brought to an end the increasingly troublesome Red Guard movement.14

Some historians hold that the Ninth Party’s National Congress, held in April 1969, marked the official end of the Cultural Revolution. The Congress established Lin Biao as Mads successor. By then Liu Shaoqi and many cadres had lost their positions.15 However, the current gov­ernment of China and many scholars maintain that the Cultural Revo­lution did not end until after Mao’s death in September 1976. During this time, the power struggles at the top switched to those between Lin Biao and Mao. Lin died in a plane crash on September 13, 1971, having already fallen out of Mao’s favor.16 Jiang Qing and other members of the Cultural Revolution Leading Group, later known as the Gang of Four, initiated a series of ultra-leftist policies, mass movements, and ongoing factional struggles by using the rhetoric of building an egalitarian so­cialist society.17 This included an attack on internationally prominent po­litical leader Zhou Enlai.


Rustication, the movement of “going up to the mountains and down to the villages,” was one of mass movements glorified by the Gang of Four. Having its origins in the early 1950s, the movement propa­gated inspiring goals—the economic transformation of a backward rural and frontier China and a social revolution that could narrow the differences between urban and rural China. The Beijing Red Guards’ initiative in going voluntarily to the countryside in 1967 led to the high tide of the movement, as did Mao’s directive on receiving re-education. In reality, what sustained the movement was the not-so­widely publicized agenda of reducing the pressure of urban unem­ployment. From 1967 to 1980, sixteen million urban middle and high school students went to the countryside as “educated youths” with different levels of commitment, ranging from high idealism to a vol­untarism created by political and peer pressure. Many went due to coercion. Among them, almost two million belonged to the “three old classes,” the graduating classes of 1966, 1967, and 1968 at both junior and senior high. They were the Red Guard cohort.18 The rest of the educated youths, fourteen million in number, consisted of those who had entered the middle schools after 1966.19 Their common life experience living in rural China through the Cultural Revolution gave them a collective identity as educated youths.20

In rural China, like the peasants who made up eighty percent of China’s population, the educated youths had to endure back-breaking physical labor and the monotonies of rural poverty. The harsh reality they encountered contradicted the official rhetoric. The government maintained that educated youths had the glorious task of building a new socialist countryside; the ruthless reality was that the arrival of so many urban people aggravated the existing problem of a surplus of laborers. Low productivity and the inability of farming units to obtain economic self-sufficiency were common issues. Worse still, the hard labor resulted in little change, and the efforts to conquer nature caused ecological de­struction. It was ironic that when Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, China’s own “modernization” program was to make urban, ed­ucated young men and women into peasants.

In addition, contrary to the glorious image portrayed by the Party, the peasants were uncooperative and motivated by practical, but not ideological concerns. Class struggle was not their priority. As much as they could, peasants resisted the ultra-leftist policies. Other problems plagued the student efforts. Among the local administration and the military and state farms, serious corruption, abuses of power, and the sexual harassment and rape of female youths, existed widely. An investigation of twenty-four provinces and cities conducted for the years 1969-1973 showed 23,000 documented cases of abuse of educated youths, of which seventy percent were rapes.21 What fun­damentally shook the belief of educated youths in the Party was the Lin Biao Incident of 1971. Shortly after his death in a plane crash while trying to flee China , Lin was publicly accused of plotting a coup against Mao and his former supporters were purged. This made many youth lose confidence in the Maoist political system.


Faced with evidence that even Mao’s once close allies were challeng­ing his policies, the educated youths began to question the meaning of the Cultural Revolution, the rustication movement, and their own lives. In searching for answers, as a social group they underwent a transformation from firm believers in Mao into independent, think­ing individuals. They transformed their identification with the Party to identifying with the people.22 They developed a concept of the self, becoming aware of individual interests, individual aspirations, and realizing that the individual could be an agent for change.

The transformation came through self-study and exploration. In the countryside the Red Guards, who had been culture destroyers, now sought all kinds of knowledge. From the late 1960s, and espe­cially after Lin Biao’s death, China’s youth gathered in numerous un­derground reading and discussion groups. They read and discussed translations of foreign works on politics, philosophy, and literature and Chinese works on various subjects. They questioned socialism, Stalin, China’s situation, Mao’s ideas, the concept of the bourgeois rev­olution, and the emancipation of the individual. Exchanging letters was another way to carry on their discussions.23 Zheng Yi, once a fa­natic worshipper of Mao in 1966, formed a “political salon” in his rural village and from his studies, believed that he had “awakened from naivete, changed from blind faith to science, from dream to re­ality, and from failure to struggle.” Disillusioned about the Maoist sys­tern, he later became a famous political dissident and writer.24 This widespread reading movement ended the innocence of this genera­tion, and led them toward the Western concepts of democracy and basic human rights.25

More fundamentally, the transformation came about because of their close contacts with peasants and the harsh realities of life in the countryside. The large body of reminiscences by former youths writ­ten in the post-Mao days dwell on one major theme—how, from peas­antry through rural life, these ((children of Mao” learned to be human. No longer obsessed with class struggle, class hatred, or self-negation, they describe themselves as discovering basic human values, empathy, and compassion for others and for one’s self. They became aware of their own inner feelings and desires. Li Junru’s recollection illustrates this well. Just one day after he had arrived in a village from Shanghai, the Party secretary of the production brigade gave him his first lesson: “Remember: tilling the land is for yourself.” Contrary to the only con­cept he knew that everything should be for the revolution, he learned that tilling for one’s self meant taking responsibility for one’s own life, learning to labor, to create, and to be in control.26

The Chinese peasants might have appeared to the youth as ig­norant, or cunning and selfish, but they had a vitality and inner strength that sustained them in their survival, regardless of politics. They could use the words of revolutions, class struggles, socialism, and capitalism. Yet they persisted stubbornly in their own moral and family values. When the Cultural Revolution destroyed books and in­tellectuals became criminals, the peasants maintained their respect for those with education. “If educated people are unreasonable, there is no sense in this world,” an elderly peasant remarked to a Beijing youth in Yan’an when he was bullying peasants. These words awak­ened the young man’s good conscience that had been frozen by the ice of the Cultural Revolution.27

When sent down to live among the ethnic minorities, the youths from the dominant Han Chinese majority believed that they shoul­dered the heroic task of “civilizing” these backward ethnic peoples. However, the Han youths who were sent to Inner Mongolia con­cluded that the Mongols and their every-day resistance to the Han government prohibition of Mongolian culture (the commemoration of Chinggis Khan for example) aroused their ethnic consciousness and made them identify with the Mongols.28

Zhang Manling, in her story There Exists a Beautiful Place (1984) which was subsequently made into the film Sacrificed Youth (1985), tells the story of a female educated youth, Li Chun, who was sent to a Dai ethnic minority village in Yunnan where the author herself had been sent. Living among the Dai people, the protagonist discovered how their world contrasted with her own. Whereas in the Han culture, sexuality and contact between the sexes was suppressed, romantic love was bourgeois, and the sense of beauty distorted, in the Dai culture, women were proud of their femininity and sexuality. They dressed in colorful tight skirts, bathed nude in the river, and enjoyed the freedom of Dai courtship customs. The protagonist’s own gender consciousness was awakened by this. This new woman wore Dai dress, learned to speak the Dai language, and tried to be one of them. Eventually, she left the village to go to a university.29 Although the story is fictional, this discovery of the inner-self and gender consciousness was experienced by many educated youths. From the common people with their “vul­gar” jokes and “crude” love songs, these puritanical youths received “sex” education. They allowed themselves to fall in love. Candidly, Yang Rae described her sexual awakening and wild sexual dreams in her memoir, Spider Eaters. She came to understand: “I was not a rock. Nor a piece of wood. I was a healthy, strong, seventeen-year-old young woman, made of flesh and blood.”30

From the early 1970s, while continuing to send urban students to the countryside, the government also recruited educated youths into urban jobs and universities, and permitted others to leave the coun­tryside because dill health or family difficulties. Like the protagonist in Zhang’s fiction, many youths chose to leave as an assertion of the self and recognition of their own interests. If one could not change the world, at least one could change his or her own life.

Resistance to the Cultural Revolution finally came into the open in April 1976. Around the Chinese traditional Qingming Festival that corn­memorates the dead, men and women in Beijing gathered in Tiananmen Square to mark the death of Premier Zhou Enlai, the opponent of the Gang of Four. Among them were former Red Guards and educated youths. In the midst of speeches and poems, some called out “China belonged to the Chinese people, not to a handful of conspirators.”31 Although silenced, what became known as the April Fifth movement marked the beginning of China’s pro-democracy movement under the Communist regime.


Two years after Mao’s death in 1978, the Communist leadership under Deng Xiaoping decided on reform and relaxation of political and cul­tural control. Another wave of the pro-democracy movement arose through the forum of the Democracy Wall (late 1978-early 1979) when the former Red Guards posted poems for literary freedom and political essays on democracy. Around the same time, those educated youths still on the farms in Yunnan staged a major strike and organized a petition movement, which spread all over China, and contributed to the end of rustication in 1980.32 In post-Mao China, the former Red Guard-educated youths kept a collective identity, and have been a forceful support for post-Mao reform. Some became in­volved in devising 1980s rural economic policies and in film and art projects portraying rural China and ethnic minorities. They have a major voice in examining the Maoist era through reminiscences, research, and mass media.33 As its rhetoric claimed, the Cultural Rev­olution would touch people “to their very souls” These “children of Mao” had truly undergone a revolution of the soul, though not the revolution the Chairman had envisioned in May of 1966.


1. Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, Mao’s Last Revolution (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006), 41. Among the numer­ous historical works on the Cultural Revolution, see also Yan Jiaqi and Gao Gao, Tur­bulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution, translated and edited by D. W Y. Kwok (Honolulu: University of Hawai’ i Press, 1996).

2. Yan and Gao, Turbulent Decade, 3,4, and 5.

3. Youqin Wang, “Student Attacks against Teachers: the Revolution of 1966” (paper presented at the conference, “The Cultural Revolution in Retrospect: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, July 4-6,1996, and at the Association of Asian Studies annual meeting, Chicago, March 14-16,1997) online at http://museums.cnd. org/CR/english/articles/violence.htm. Wang was a middle school student in Beijing in 1966. She obtained her PhD degree in the US and is now a lecturer at the Univer­sity of Chicago. She has conducted intensive studies on the violence in the Cultural Revolution, and has a Web site, “Memorial for Victims of the Chinese Cultural rev­olution; Chinese Holocaust Memorial” online at http://humanities.uchicago.ed.u/fac­ulty/ywang/history/.

4. Emily Honig, “Maoist Mappings of Gender: Reassessing the Red Guards: in Susan Brownell and Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom eds., Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculini­ties: A Reader (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002), 255-259. In a documentary film, Morning Sun (2003), produced and directed by Carma Hinton, Geremie Barme, and Richard Gordon, Song Binbin “recounts for the first time how the Communist media fabricated a name for her in order to whip up popular frenzy for the Cultural Revolution.” See the Web site of the film at

5. Yan and Gao, 88-89; MacFarquhar and Schoenhals, 110.

6. Anita Chan, Children of Mao: Personality Development and Political Activism in the Red Guard Generation (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1985).

7. Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, “From Gender Erasure to Gender Difference,” in Mayfair Mei-hui Yang ed., Spaces of Their Own: Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 40-46.

8. Honig, “Maoist Mappings of Gender,” 266.

9. Lynn T. White III, Politics of Chaos: the Organizational Causes of Violence in China’s Cultural Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), 5-6.

10. Xiaoxia Gong, “The Logic of Repressive Collective Action: A Case Study of Violence in the Cultural Revolution,” in Kam-yee Law ed., The Chinese Cultural Revolution Reconsidered: Beyond Purge and Holocaust (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003), 113-132.

11. Jing Lin, The Red Guards’ Path to Violence: Political, Educational, and Psychological Factors (New York: Praeger, 1991), 19-21.

12. Yin Hongbiao, “Cong ‘xin sichao’ dao ‘xin jieji’-wenge zhong qingnian de shehui pipan sichao” (“From ‘New Ideas’ to ‘New Class’-The Social Critique by the Youths in the Cultural Revolution”), in Yongyi Song, ed., Wenhua da geming: Lishi zhenxiang he jiti jiyi (The Cultural Revolution: Historical Truth and Collective Memories) (Hong Kong: Tianyuan shuwu, 2007), 406.

13. Mi Hedu, Hong weibing zheyidai (The Red Guard Generation) (Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian, 1993), 113-115.

14. Yihong Pan, Tempered in the Revolutionary Furnace: China’s Youth in the Rustication Movement (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2003), chaps. 2 and 3.

15. Liu died of illness in November 1969.

16. MacFarquhar and Schoenhals, chaps. 17,19.

17. In addition to Jiang Qing, the other three were Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao VVenyuan.

18. The total number of the three old classes amounted to over ten million. See Zhong­guo Jiaoyu Nianjian Bianjibu, Zhongguo jiaoytt nianjitm 1949-1981 (China’s Year­book of Education, 1969-1981) (Beijing: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe, 1984), 1001.

19. Liu Xiaomeng, Zhongguo zhiging shi-dachao (1966-1980)(A History of China’s Ed­ucated Youths: The Great Waves, 1966-1980) (Beijing: Zhongguo shehui kexue chubanshe, 1998), 863.

20. For major works on the rustication movement in English, see Thomas Bernstein, Up to the Mountains and Down to the Villages: The Transfer of Youth from Urban to Rural China (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977); Guobin Yang, China’s Red Guard Generation: The Ritual Process of Identity Transformation, 1966-1999. PhD (New York University, 2000); Guobin Yang, “China’s Educated Youths Genera­tion: Nostalgia, Identity, and Cultural Resistance in the 1990s,” Modern China 29: 3 (2003): 267-96; Yihong Pan, Tempered.

21. Liu, 304.

22. Yang, Chin’s Red Guard Generation, 8 and 9; Yang, “China’s Zhiciirrg Genera­tion:’ 267-296.

23. Yang, China’s Red Guard, 8 and 9; Yang, “China’s Zhiqing:’ 267-296; Song Yongyi, “A Glance at the Underground Reading Movement during the Cultural Rev­olution,” Journal of Contemporary China 16: 51 (2007): 325,333.

24. Zheng Yi, Lishi de yibufen (A Part of History) (Taipei: Wanxiang tushu gongsi, 1993), 177-189.

25. Song, 326.

26. Jun Dalu, Kunan yu fenglitt: “la° sanjie”ren de daolu (Sufferings and Heroism: The Life path of the Three Old Classes) (Shanghai: Renmin chubanshe, 1994), 116-117.

27. Huishou Huang Tudi Bianweihui, Huishou huang tudi (Looking Back at the Yellow Earth) (Shenyang, Liaoning: Shenyang chubanshe, 1992), 79-80.

28. Yihong Pan, “Revelation of the Grassland: The Sent-Down Youth in Inner Mongo­lia in China’s Cultural Revolution.” Asian Ethnicity 7: 3 (2006): 225-241.

29. Zhang Manling, “You yige meili de difang” (There Exists a Beautiful Place), in Xiao Jian ed., Zhiging wenxue jingdian, v. 4, Qingjie (Classics of the Lliterature of Eeducated Youth, 4: “Obsession”) (Lanzhou, Gansu: Dunhuang wenyi chubanshe, 1996), 31-79. The film was directed by Zhang Nuanxin.

30. Rae Yang, Spider Eaters: A Memoir (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997), 195-198.

31. Yan and Gao, Turbulent Decade, chap. 29.

32. Pan, Tempered, 10; Yang Bin, ‘”We Want to Go Home! The Great Petition in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan, 1978-19797 The China Quarterly 198 (2009): 401-421.

33. There are quite a few memoirs and reminiscences in English about the Red Guard and the educated youth generation. See for example, Liang Heng and Judith Shapiro, Son of the Revolution (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983); Rae Yang, Spider Eaters; Yarong Jiang and David Ashley, Mao’s Children in the New China: Voices from the Red Guard Generation (London: Routledge, 2000); Xueping Zhong, Wang Zheng, and Bat Di eds. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001).

I would like to thank my colleague, Prof. Judith P. Zinsser, for her careful ed­itorial work and comments. Thanks are also due to the two referees for their helpful suggestions, and to the editor of EAA, Lucien Ellington, whose advice helped in the writing and revision of this paper.