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Let A Hundred Flowers Blossom, Let A Hundred Schools Of Thought Contend

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Chapter Summary

"Hundred Flowers" is a slogan that elicits complex memories in China's cultural politics. More broadly, it refers to recurring moments of political tolerance in the People's Republic. The Maoist slogan for the campaign was baihua qifang, baijia zhengming: "Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend". The open-minded spirit of the Hundred Flowers Campaign is, however, forever bound up with its opposite: the repression of intellectuals in the Antirightist Campaign that followed. These linked trends of relaxation and restriction have dominated Chinese cultural life for half a century. Although China's intellectuals were slow to accept the Hundred Flowers, by the spring of 1957, the party was receiving an unexpectedly rich harvest of critical comments. Ultimately, the vision of a Hundred Flowers was resuscitated by the rapid economic growth that accelerated dramatically in the 1990s.

Keywords: China's cultural politics; Chinese cultural life; Hundred Flowers campaign; Maoist slogan

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