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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Chang Nai-ch'i and his critics : the interpretation of the Hundred Flowers Movement Smith, John M


This thesis is an attempt to examine interpretations of the May-June Hundred Flowers Movement in China in 1957 through the examination of a principal participant among businessmen: Chang Nai-ch'i. The Hundred Flowers Movement is comprised of a series of violent outbursts and extreme statements. The May-June Hundred Flowers Movement was the last act in what might be termed China's Hundred Flowers Period, a period of intellectual liberation concurrent with the "Liberalization" in the Soviet Union. China, like many other socialist states, is a closed society from which information is often difficult to gather. The criticism, as printed in Chinese newspapers and journals, provides detailed information on factional struggles and organizational difficulties found within the Chinese government. The criticism, though often bountiful in number, is short, emotional and takes the form of a vignette. The existence of a source of official criticisms against Chang Nai-ch'i allows for the examination of the actions of a leading Hundred Flowers participant both prior to, and during the Movement. The method used to examine, compile and evaluate criticisms of Chang Nai-ch'i is the frequency chart in which quantitative examination is made of various critics' statements, and the duration of these statements. Through the use of this technique, over forty criticisms of Chang Nai-ch'i found in two Chinese language businessmen's journals are ordered, placed into chronological sequence and evaluated. These criticisms are then examined against existing information, and in particular, Chinese journal and newspaper accounts to examine their significance and validity. The thesis is divided into three chapters examining three chronological groups of criticisms. The first chapter examines criticisms referring to Chang's past (1927-1951), the second examines criticisms of events immediately prior to the Hundred Flowers Movement (1952-1956) and the third examines criticisms pertaining directly to the Hundred Flowers Movement. Existing interpretations of the Hundred Flowers Movement stress the spontaneity of the Movement, the importance of factional differences within the Chinese leadership, and the importance of the emergence of "disturbances" beyond the expectations of the Chinese leadership. An examination of the criticisms of Chang Nai-Ch'i suggests that the Hundred Flowers Movement was not in any sense spontaneous, and that the "disturbances" which led to an about-face by the Chinese leadership, may have been a product of weaknesses within the Chinese political process, weaknesses that were both factional and historical in nature.

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