Quotations: Down to the Countryside




This page contains a collection of Chinese Revolution quotations about rustification or the ‘Down to the Countryside’ campaign, made by prominent leaders, figures, observers and historians. These quotations have been selected and compiled by Alpha History authors. If you would like to suggest a quotation for these pages, please contact Alpha History.

“All the educated young people ought to be very happy to work in the countryside if they are able to go there. There is plenty of room in the vast rural areas for them to do something truly worthwhile.”
Mao Zedong, forecasting the rustification movement, 1955

“Too much schooling is harmful. Too much education is harmful to a person. I do not approve of reading so many books. It is counter-productive to study too much. The books on Marxism should be read but not too many of them. A dozen or so books will be sufficient.”
Mao Zedong, 1963




“Professors, assistant professors, administrative workers and students should all of them go down [to the countryside], for a limited period of five months… They will acquire some perceptual knowledge. Horses, cows, sheep, chickens, dogs, pigs, rice, sorghum, beans, wheat, varieties of millet – they can have a look at all these things… To can see the land and the people, to get some experience of class struggle. That’s what I call a university.”
Mao Zedong, 1964

“I told my son to go down to the countryside and tell the poor and lower middle peasants ‘My dad says that after studying a few years we become more and more stupid. Please, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, I want to learn from you’.”
Mao Zedong, 1965

“An important part of Chairman Mao’s thought on education is that education should serve proletarian politics, that education be combined with productive labour… the half-farm half-study method is a very good organisational form… The students both farm and study, thus they are both students and peasants.”
He Wei, CCP politician and diplomat, 1965

“The experience of transferring cadres to the countryside to do manual labour… is great… All cadres should do so, except the old and the sick. Cadres in active service should go down to the countryside to do manual labour in batches too. This Chairman Mao instruction has significant meaning for opposing and preventing revisionism, and doing well in struggle, criticism and transformation.”
The People’s Daily, October 1968

“Young people signed up with excitement, for many reasons. Some went because they wanted to get away from home, others because they longed for something fresh and because there was nothing to do at school. Above all, they went because Chairman Mao told them to go… Later, after the first groups had sent back reports of what things were really like, nobody wanted to go anymore. But by then they no longer had any choice in the matter.”
Liang Heng, Chinese writer

“I was sent to Inner Mongolia when I was 16… When I arrived there what existed was far from what I had thought. There was only one house for my company… The camp I worked in had ben for those who received criminal sentences. For five or six years I made sun-dried bricks… In winter our main work was to dig irrigation canals. It is the hardest work for us. We were tired, cold and not well fed… In that area there were many rats.”
Zhou Qiang, a former rusticant

“[The children of CCP officials and bureaucrats] got out [of rustification] in no time. Though I didn’t think this when I went to the village, afterwards I realised that it was ‘bad’ people who got left in the countryside. If the policy really had been that everyone equally had to go down, I’d have been willing to sacrifice. If to work in the countryside were really glorious, I’d be glad and happy to be there. But it’s become the antithesis of glory and I want nothing to do with it.”
An unnamed former rusticant

“When I went to university in 1973, we former Red Guards met to exchange our experiences. We agreed that our stay with the people in the country had taught us the value of things – and of life itself.”
An unnamed Red Guard and rusticant

“When Mao sent us down to the countryside, perhaps one of his goals was for us to understand the peasants. But he had no way of controlling the implications we drew from our understanding. He probably hoped we’d all come to the same conclusion.”
Zhong Acheng, writer and former rusticant


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