Chinese Revolution timeline: 1962 to 1976

This Chinese Revolution timeline lists significant events and developments from 1962 to the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. This timeline has been written and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest an event for inclusion in this timeline please contact Alpha History.

August 15th: A 20-year-old PLA soldier, Lei Feng, is killed in an accident in Anshan.
September: Mao initiates the Socialist Education Movement, a rectification-style campaign to remove reactionaries from the CCP.
November: China wins a brief war with India over disputed borders.

March: The diaries of Lei Feng are published and distributed as pro-Mao and pro-party propaganda. The ‘Learn From Lei Feng’ campaign commences.

April: The first publication of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, the famous ‘little red book’.
October 16th: China explodes an atomic weapon at Lop Nur, becoming the world’s fifth nuclear power after the US, Britain, Soviet Russia and France.

November 10th: Yao Wenyuan publishes critical reviews of the play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office.

May: The CCP Politburo formally proclaims the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.
May: The first organised brigade of Red Guards is formed at Tsinghua University High School.
June: The People’s Daily, the party’s official newspaper, calls for the purging of all “imperialists” from the government, the CCP and the bureaucracy.
July 16th: ‘Mao’s Good Swim’: the 72-year-old leader takes a leisurely swim across the Yangzte River, dispelling rumours about his failing health.
August 6th: A Mao Zedong-penned article titled “Bombard the Headquarters” calls for mass purges of rightists.
August 8th: The CCP Central Committee issues its 16 Points, calling for a mass revolution.
August 18th: The first of eight Red Guard rallies in Tiananmen Square.
September: Lin Biao gives a speech encouraging students to criticise and purge “Khrushchevists”.
September: More than a thousand people in Shanghai are murdered or forced to suicide by Red Guards.
October: Peng Dehuai is publicly ridiculed and beaten by Red Guards.

Schools and universities resume teaching classes.
January: Lin Biao and Jiang Qing initiate the ‘January storm’, a purging of Shanghai city officials.

October: Liu Shaoqi, under pressure from the Red Guards, resigns all his government and party posts.
October 31st: Liu Shaoqi is formally expelled from the CCP.
December: Mao initiates an ‘Up to the Mountains, Down to the Countryside’ movement, forcing many urban students to relocate and work in rural areas.

March: Chinese forces clash with USSR troops in the Ussiri River border region.
April: Mao proclaims the ‘active’ phase of the Cultural Revolution to be over.
April: CCP ninth congress formalises Lin Biao as Mao’s second-in-charge and successor.
November 12th: Liu Shaoqi dies in prison after months of beatings and denial of medical treatment.

September 6th: The Ninth Party Congress winds up, after purging Chen Boda and ordering his arrest.

April 10th
: A table tennis team from the United States accepts an invitation to visit Beijing. This ‘ping-pong diplomacy’, as it becomes known, contributes to a thaw in US-Chinese relations.
July 9th: US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger makes a secret visit to China.
September 11th: Assassination attempts against Mao and a thwarted coup attempt, allegedly orchestrated by Lin Biao.
September 13th: Lin Biao and his family die after their plane crashes attempting to flee China.
November: China is granted one of five seats in the United Nations Security Council.

February 1st: US president Richard Nixon travels to China and meets Mao, Zhou Enlai and other officials.
September: China re-establishes diplomatic relations with Japan.

April: Deng Xiaoping is rehabilitated and reinstated as vice-premier, at the behest of Zhou Enlai.
August 24-28th: The Tenth Party Congress of the CCP accepts a program of moderate economic modernisation.

January 8th-10th: The Fourth People’s Congress approves the Four Modernisations, a program to strengthen Chinese agriculture, industry, national defence and technology.

January: Zhou Enlai proclaims the Four Modernisations in the People’s Congress, his last significant public act.
January: Deng Xiaoping becomes CCP vice chairman and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee.
April 5th: Guomindang leader and former generalissimo Jiang Jieshi dies in Taiwan.
September: Mao Zedong becomes gravely ill and is admitted to hospital.

January 8th: The death of Zhou Enlai from bladder cancer.
February: Deng Xiaoping is purged from the CCP for the second time.
April 4th: The ‘Tiananmen incident’. The Gang of Four orders the suppression of mourners for Zhou Enlai.
July 6th: The death of Red Army and PLA commander Zhu De.
September 9th: The death of Mao Zedong from motor neurone disease.
July 28th: The city of Tangshan in Hebei province is struck by an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. Approximately one quarter million people are killed.
October 6th: Members of the Gang of Four are arrested.

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This page was written by Glenn Kucha, Jennifer Llewellyn, Steve Thompson and Sara Taylor. To reference this page, use the following citation:
G. Kucha et al, “Chinese Revolution timeline: 1962 to 1976”, Alpha History, accessed [today’s date],
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