The CCP’s May 16th circular (1966)


An abridged version of the May 16th circular, issued by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1966:


“The Central Committee has decided to revoke the ‘Outline Report on the Current Academic Discussion made by the Group of Five in Charge of the Cultural Revolution’ [February 1966] and to dissolve the ‘Group of Five in Charge of the Cultural Revolution’… The outline report by the so called ‘Group of Five’ is fundamentally wrong. It runs counter to the line of the socialist cultural revolution set forth by the Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong…

While feigning compliance, the outline actually opposes and stubbornly resists the great Cultural Revolution initiated and led personally by Comrade Mao Zedong, as well as [Mao’s] instructions, regarding the criticism of Wu Han, which he gave at the work conference of the Central Committee held in September and October 1965…

The outline report by the so called ‘Group of Five’ is actually an outline report by Peng Zhen alone. He concocted it according to his own ideas, behind the backs of Comrade Kang Sheng, a member of the ‘Group of Five’, and other comrades… Peng Zhen had no discussion or exchange of views at all within the Group of Five. He did not ask any local party committee for its opinion… and still less did he get the approval of Comrade Mao Zedong. Employing the most improper methods, he acted arbitrarily, abused his powers [and] issued the outline report to the whole party…

Proceeding from a bourgeois world outlook… the outline completely reverses the relation between the enemy and ourselves, putting the one into the position of the other. Our country is now in an upsurge of the great proletarian Cultural Revolution, which is pounding at all the decadent ideological and cultural positions still held by the bourgeoisie and the remnants of feudalism. Instead of encouraging the entire party to boldly arouse the broad masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers… the outline does its best to turn the movement to the right…

Party committees at all levels must immediately stop carrying out the Outline Report… the whole party must follow Comrade Mao Zedong’s instructions, hold high the great banner of the proletarian Cultural Revolution, thoroughly expose the reactionary bourgeois stand of those so called ‘academic authorities’ who oppose the party and socialism, thoroughly criticise and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois ideas in the sphere of academic work, education, journalism, literature, art and publishing, and seize the leadership in these cultural spheres. To achieve this, it is necessary at the same time to criticise and repudiate those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and all spheres of culture, to clear them out or transfer some of them to other positions.

Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists. Once conditions are ripe, they will seize political power and turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Some of them we have already seen, others we have not. Some are still trusted by us and are being trained as our successors, persons like Khrushchev, for example, who are still nestling beside us. Party committees at all levels must pay full attention to this matter.”