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Mao's Parades: State Spectacles in China in the 1950s

Authors Hung, Chang-tai
Issue Date 2007
Source The China Quarterly , vol. 190, 2007, p. 411-431
Summary Political parades in the People's Republic of China are a rich and complex cultural text from which historians can gain a deeper understanding of the nature and policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP's state spectacles, primarily the parades during the May Day and National Day (1 October) celebrations held in Tiananmen Square in the 1950s, were a well-organized political ritual with multiple purposes: festivals of iconoclasm, demolishing the old order and embracing the new era of socialism; a legitimation of the CCP's authority; a display of myriad achievements under communism; an affirmation of the centrality of Mao's role in modern Chinese revolutionary history; and an announcement of China's presence in the international socialist camp. The parades, although influenced by the Soviet Union, exhibited strong native colours. They also reflected a nation undergoing political and economic changes. In the end, Mao Zedong and his senior Party leaders, acting both as actors and directors, carefully controlled and choreographed the paraders, who were themselves the audience, in Tiananmen Square to heap praise on the achievements of the Party and its chairman.
Rights © Cambridge University Press 2007. This paper was (will be) published in China Quarterly and is reprinted with permission.
Language English
Format Article
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