The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a period of widespread social and political upheaval in the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China between 1966 and 1976, resulting in nation-wide chaos and economic disarray.
It was launched by Mao Zedong, the chairman of the Communist Party of China, on May 16, 1966; he alleged that "liberal bourgeois" elements were permeating the party and society at large and that they wanted to restore capitalism. Mao insisted that these elements be removed through post-revolutionary class struggle by mobilizing the thoughts and actions of China's youth, who formed Red Guards groups around the country.
The movement subsequently spread into the military, urban workers, and the party leadership itself. Although Mao himself officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, the power struggles and political instability between 1969 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 are now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution.
After Mao's death, forces within the party that were antagonistic to the Cultural Revolution, led by Deng Xiaoping, gained prominence. The political, economic, and educational reforms associated with the Cultural Revolution were largely terminated by 1978. The Cultural Revolution has been treated officially as a negative phenomenon ever since. The people involved in instituting the policies of the Cultural Revolution were persecuted. In its official historical judgment of the Cultural Revolution in 1981, the Party assigned chief responsibility to Mao Zedong, but also laid significant blame on Lin Biao and the Gang of Four for causing its worst excesses.