Quotations: the People’s Republic 1949-65

This page contains a collection of Chinese Revolution quotations about the People’s Republic between 1949 and 1965, 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.

“A drama begins with a prologue but the prologue is not the climax. The Chinese Revolution is great – but the road after the revolution will be longer, the work greater and more arduous.”
Mao Zedong, 1949

“Stalin would sometimes not see [Mao Zedong] for days at a time. No one dared to go and see him. Rumours began reaching our ears that Mao was not at all happy, that he was under lock and key and that he was being ignored.”
Nikita Khrushchev, writing on Mao Zedong’s visit to Moscow in 1949

“[Some say] ‘You are dictatorial’. My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are. The experience of the Chinese people accumulated over several decades teaches us to enforce the people’s democratic dictatorship. We must deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.”
Mao Zedong, 1950

“‘Don’t you want to abolish state power?’ Yes, we want to, but not at the present time. We cannot afford to abolish state power just now. Why not? Because imperialism still exists, because reactionaries still exist and because classes still exist.”
Mao Zedong, 1950

“We shouldn’t be afraid of atomic missiles. No matter what kind of war breaks out, conventional or nuclear, we will win… If the imperialists unleash war on us, we may lose more than 300 million people. So what? War is war. The years will pass and we will get to work making more babies than ever before.”
Mao Zedong to Nikita Khrushchev, 1957

“Mao Zedong Thought is the only correct thought. It is the incarnation of Marxism-Leninism in China, it is the symbol of truth. Therefore, if a person at any time whatever, in any place whatever, regarding any question whatever, manifests wavering in his attitude towards Mao Zedong Thought… it means in reality that the waverer departs from Marxist-Leninist truth and will lose his bearings and commit political errors. So we must follow Chairman Mao steadfastly and eternally! Forward, following 100 per cent and without the slightest reservation, the way of Mao Zedong!”
Liu Tzu-chiu, CCP cadre, 1959

“I have only one desire in my heart. I want to be wholeheartedly dedicated to the Party, socialism, and Communism.”
Attributed to Lei Feng, Chinese soldier and diarist, 1962

“I feel that a real revolutionary is never selfish. Whatever he does is always for the benefit of the people… It is my wish to devote my life to the infinite cause of serving the people. A Communist Party member is a servant of the people. He should regard other people’s happiness as his own.”
Lei Feng, 1962

“Lei Feng… saw Old Wang sitting by himself without any lunch… Offering his own lunch he said ‘Come on, take this’. Old Wang looked at the lunch box, then at Lei Feng, shook his head and refused to accept it. ‘Take it’, Lei Feng said… ‘If I take it what are you going to do?’ said Old Wang, handing it back. ‘My stomach is a bit upset and I don’t feel like eating’, Lei Feng replied.”
Chinese anecdote about Lei Feng, circa 1962

“No one goes there [to Lei Feng’s hometown] anymore. Why do you want to? Lei Feng’s a joke. We all think so. He was a screw in Mao’s machine, not a person.”
Xiao Wang, Chinese factory worker, 1989

“We went down to the railway station to try to help old ladies with their baggage, as Lei Feng had done. We sometimes had to grab their bundles forcibly because [some] thought we were thieves.”
Jung Chang on emulating Lei Feng in the 1960s

“Women on posters, immense posters of women in factory clothes, in peasant clothes. ‘We too can produce for the country!’ Women calling to women: Come out and work! Build our country! Women and men with that smile to the fore, looking starry eyed into the sky. Women, large sized, brawny… and on the radio in my room, the voice of a woman: ‘It is better for a woman to have big hands and big feet. Big feet are beautiful, big hands are capable hands.”
Han Suyin on the changing role of women

“Women now no longer work just in the house, they also work in the fields and earn their own money. But the men of the older generation still say: ‘What does a woman know? Women know nothing! What’s a woman worth? Women are worth nothing!’ In such families the men decide everything.”
A woman from Liu Ling village, 1962

“The Soviet leaders hold that China should not and must not manufacture nuclear weapons. The Soviet leaders say ‘how can the Chinese be qualified to manufacture nuclear weapons when they eat watery soup out of a common bowl, and do not even have trousers to wear? … We will neither crawl to the baton of Soviet leaders nor kneel before the nuclear blackmail of US imperialism.”
The People’s Daily, September 1963