Campaign against Bourgeois Liberalization

Campaign against Bourgeois Liberalization
(Fandui zichangjie ziyouhua, 1987)
Ideological movement
The Campaign against Bourgeois Liberalization was a movement to oppose tendencies related to Western freedoms and in defence of the CCP’s rule. Authorities believed that ‘bourgeois liberalization’ stood in opposition to the ‘four cardinal principles’ enunciated by Deng Xiaoping (1904–97) on 30 March 1979, the main one of which was to uphold the leadership of the CCP. In September 1986, a CCP Plenum defined ‘bourgeois liberalization’ as ‘negating the socialist system in favour of capitalism’.
In November, student demonstrations for greater freedoms began in Anhui, where the noted academic Fang Lizhi had called for democracy, and spread to Shanghai and Beijing. These were suppressed by the CCP authorities as a threat to their rule. Early in January 1987, China’s main newspaper, People’s Daily, printed several articles opposing ‘bourgeois liberalization’ and defending the ‘four cardinal principles’. It also attacked the idea of ‘complete Westernization’, a typical product of ‘bourgeois liberalization’, arguing that this meant abandoning socialism in favour of capitalism.
Deng Xiaoping held CCP General Secretary Hu Yaobang (1917–89) chiefly responsible for the student demonstrations, accusing him of espousing ‘bourgeois liberalization’. On 16 January 1987, Hu resigned, after having made a self-criticism of his mistakes. His fall made him a hero to liberal causes thereafter. At about the same time, several prominent intellectuals, journalists and writers, including Fang Lizhi, were expelled from the CCP for their ‘bourgeois liberalization’. Though quite short, the campaign affected China’s later history. Hu Yaobang’s death in mid-April 1989 was the spark that set off the fire of new student demonstrations, which culminated in their violent suppression early in June.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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