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Between Class Struggle and Family Loyalty

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The Mobilisation of Businessmen’s Wives and Children during the Five Antis Movement

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During the political campaigns launched by the Chinese Communist Party in the Maoist period, full mobilisation of the masses became the norm. Yet it was not just the authorities and their myriads of units and personnel who became involved. In order to achieve maximum impact, the CCP targeted and mobilised the families of the actors concerned. This paper examines the strategy and measures implemented by the CCP during the Five Antis Movement to manipulate the wives and children of businessmen and merchants and to use them as leverage in pressing businessmen and merchants to ‘confess’ and reveal their alleged wrongdoings in business deals with the state. Although most chose to resist and to side with their husband or father, political pressure was strong enough to force family members to become the instruments of power within the family. While the actual overall cost is impossible to evaluate, enlisting family members into political struggle left a legacy of distrust and uncertainty, which in turn dealt a serious blow to family ethics.

Affiliations: 1: East China Normal University


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