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  • Hong taiyang shi zenyang shengqi de
  • David Cheng Chang (bio)
Gao Hua 高華. Hong taiyang shi zenyang shengqi de 紅太陽是怎樣升起的: 延安整風運動的來龍去脈 (How did the red sun rise over Yan'an? A history of the Rectification Movement). Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2000. 705 pp. Paperback $24.00, isbn 962-201-920-X.

Published in Hong Kong and now in its seventh printing but banned in China, Nanjing University history professor Gao Hua's Hong taiyang shi zenyang shengqi de is a historiographical tour de force, in terms of both sources and analysis. Unparalleled in scope and depth, and nuanced in approach, Gao Hua's work offers the most complete and convincing account of the Rectification Movement (1942–1945) to date. By tracing the Rectifications origin's and discussing its long-term consequences (來龍去脈), Party historian Gao makes a major contribution to the study of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in general. While it confirms the fact that the campaign emancipated the Party from Soviet-influenced dogmatism and unified the Party in its preparation for the final showdown with the Kuomintang (KMT), this book shatters the Party's orthodox version of this crucial history as a salubrious thought-reform process. In sharp contrast to the Party line and earlier Western scholarship influenced by Edgar Snow and John Service's impressions, and anti-Vietnam War sentiment (e.g., Selden 1971),1 Gao defines the campaign as a political process directed by Mao, in which Mao employed his political preponderance (shi 势) "to thoroughly reconfigure the upper structure of the Party, to redistribute upper-level power with himself as the absolute master." In terms of methods (shu 術), Mao applied his innovative dual process of thought reform and coercive cadre examinations and purges. In the realm of ideology (dao 道), Mao "used his own ideas and thoughts and fundamentally transformed the ethos of the CCP from a Russianized party to a party of Mao" (p. xii).

Gao takes pains to argue that the Rectification dealt a fatal blow to any remnant of "the May Fourth idealism of freedom and democracy" within the Party and thus laid the foundation for a "total Mao Zedong-ization." Gao further emphasizes that "the institution of a full gamut of new Party traditions, concepts, and paradigms bearing Mao's hallmarks would change the lives and fate of several hundred million Chinese after 1949"(p. xii). This is an unmistakable reference to various political campaigns in the People's Republic of China (PRC), particularly the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957) and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). In a sense, this book suggests that the origins of the Cultural Revolution should be sought in the 1940s, not in the 1950s as MacFarquhar has done in his famed trilogy.2 [End Page 515]

Gao's book has two major strengths. One is its exhaustive and astute use of a wide range of available sources, including published official accounts, memoirs by former officials, rank-and-file participants of the campaign, Soviet observers, and CCP defectors. To sift through such an immense amount of data, which encompass complex and ever-evolving relationships between hundreds of historical actors in the span of decades, requires extraordinary sensitivity and tenacity. Gao states, "It could be said that my extensive life experience in the PRC and my wide-ranging reading of relevant historical materials sharpened my sensitivity, and gradually enabled me to read behind the lines" (p. 653). Second, while eschewing "excessive interpretation" in theoretical analysis (p. 654) and focusing on delineating historical facts, Gao draws from traditional Chinese concepts and he proposes an incisive analytical framework of "dao, shu, shi" (道術 勢), and offers a number of illuminating insights, such as the "double-faced" Mao and the "double-personality" of the CCP body politic.

Historiographical Contribution

In the fine tradition of "carrying the red flag to attack the red flag," Gao effectively uses CCP sources to subvert CCP orthodoxy. As Gao notes in his epilogue, with a few rare exceptions, the vast majority of archives related to the Rectification are still classified, including those pertaining to the CCP Politburo, Secretariat, the Central Organization Bureau, and the former Central Bureau of Social Affairs (Yan'an KGB). It is noteworthy that Gao acquired all his sources...


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