Introduced and Annotated by Jeffrey Wong
“Hail the Great Victory in the Revolution of Peking Opera,” is an article published in 1967 in the sixth edition of Hongqi (Red Flag), a key Communist Party journal that “everyone was supposed to read.” The article was later compiled in Chiang Ching’s (Jiang Qing) book, On the Revolution of Peking Opera in 1968. The article is a social commentary piece published at the height of the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976. The article focuses on two main speeches: Mao Zedong’s, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art” (1942) and Chiang Ching’s, “On the Revolution of Peking Opera” (1964). Both articles discussed the importance of the cultural front in the suppression of counter-revolutionary elements in Chinese literature, “educating” or forcing writers and artists to follow the “mass style”of literature and art. They further argued that all forms of literature and art must represent the masses and that the “thoughts and feelings of… writers and artists should be fused with those of the masses of workers, peasants and soldiers.” The Hongqi article, published in 1967, a year after the start of the Cultural Revolution, summarized the achievements the revolution had on Peking opera and the performing arts. It was a period of societal chaos in which “the nation formed groups to attack aspects of the ‘old culture.’” It was during this time that “music, just like all other artistic production, was subject to extreme political regimentation during this period; that only certain correct colors, forms and sounds were officially acceptable.” The article demonstrated this regimentation of opera by introducing the term “model operas.” This meant that operas mentioned in the article, including Taking the Bandits Stronghold, On the Docks, The Red Lantern, Shachiapang and Raid on the White Tiger Regiment, became not only the standard models for opera but also the models for proletarian literature and art. Model operas disseminated state ideology and made “radical Cultural Revolutionary ideology more accessible, and perhaps even temporarily acceptable, as a public discourse.” This was a “political dictate not open to debate,” and during the Cultural Revolution, all plays and literature were forced to follow this frameworks and “eight hundred million Chinese people [were forced to watch] only eight model plays.” This was an attempt to disseminate a singular genre of arts in hopes to create a monoculture.
Source Notes (click on link above to see the original source as an annotated pdf)
- Chairman Mao’s Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art is a collection of works that Mao Zedong wrote in 1942 describing the importance of a “cultural army”. This army is aimed at educating the people and mobilizing the masses in a common goal.
- This phrase might have reminded readers about Mao Zedong’s Hundred Flowers campaign initiated during 1957. It was official policy to encourage the Chinese people and intellectuals to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party, claiming that it was the CCP’s goal to take such feedback from such criticisms and correct its shortcomings. The movement was then turned into an Anti-Rightist Movement that persecuted those who spoke out negatively against the CCP.
- Chiang Ching (Jiang Qing), also known as Madame Mao, was born in March 1914 and died on May 14, 1983. Beginning in the early 1960s, she played a major role in Chinese politics and sat on various cultural committees which lead to a cultural reform movement that culminated into the Cultural Revolution in 1966. After Mao’s death in 1976, she and her “gang of four” were accused of causing widespread persecutions across China. She was sentenced to life in prison where official reports claimed she committed suicide.
- Chou Yang (Zhou Yang) was born on November 7, 1908 and died on July 31, 1989. He was a leftist writer and became the vice-minister of culture, vice-director of the Department of Propaganda of the Cultural Committee of the Communist Party, and vice chairman of All-China Federation of Literary and Art Circles after 1949, but fell out of favour during the Cultural Revolution and was branded as a representative of the counter-revolutionary line of literature.
- Chi Yen-ming (Qi Yanming) was born in 1907 and died on November 21, 1978. He was a Chinese literature historian who taught at various universities in China. During 1943 he created “new operas” that venerated Lin Biao. He later served as party secretary for the Ministry of Culture after 1949.
- Hsia Yen (Xia Yan) was born on October 30, 1900 and died on February 6, 1995. He was a leftist writer, journalist, and playwright and was appointed as vice-minister of culture in 1955. During the Cultural Revolution he was removed from office and imprisoned for eight years.
- Lin Mo-han was born on January 10, 1913 and died on January 3, 2008. He was a leftist writer and poet and held a position on the Central Committee Propaganda Department, Deputy Minister of Culture and vice chairman of the China Federation of literary and Art Circles after the Chinese Communist Party came into power. During the Cultural Revolution, he was labeled as a counterrevolutionary and imprisoned for ten years.
- Model operas often depicted Chinese Communist themes. The translation terminology which translated the term xi to “opera,” could also mean other staged performances, thus model operas also included ballets and symphonic works. These operas often followed the outlines that the peripheral heroic characters would come across a crisis that might cause them to waver, then a second crises that “confirms the rightness of the central hero’s line, and the third ends in exposure of the enemy (class enemies and the Japanese) and the victory for the proletarian forces.
Chen, Xiaomei. Acting the Right Part. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002.
Chiang Ching. On the Revolution of Peking Opera. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1968.
Clark, Paul. Chinese Cinema: Culture and Politics since 1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Clark, Paul. Reinventing China: A Generation and Its Films. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2005.
Hong, Zicheng. A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007.
Liang, Heng and Judith Shapiro. Son of the Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1983.
Mao Tse-Tung. Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1962.
Mittler, Barbara. A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture. Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2012.
Tang, Tsou. The Cultural Revolution and Post-Mao Reforms. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Jiang Qing: Chinese politician,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Jiang-Qing (accessed 05 October 2015).
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The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Zhou Yang: Chinese literary critic,” Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/biography/Zhou-Yang (accessed 04 October 2015).
“齐燕铭 (Qi Yanming),”Wikipedia, https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%BD%90%E7%87%95%E9%93%AD (Accessed 06 October 2015).
“林默涵 (Lin Mohan),”Baidu, http://baike.baidu.com/view/158520.htm (accessed 06 October 2015).
 Xiaomei Chen, Acting the Right Part (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2002), 98.
 Zicheng Hong, A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature (Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2007), 223.
 Tse-Tung Mao, Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1962), 2-6.
 Ibid., 6.
 Ching Chiang, On the Revolution of Peking Opera (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1968), 10-12.
 Paul Clark, Reinventing China: A Generation and Its Films (Hong Kong: The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2005), 19.
 Barbara Mittler, A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural revolution Culture (Cambridge: Havard University Asia Center, 2012), 35.
 Hong, 223.
 Chen, 141.
 Ibid., 160.
 Mittler, 53.
 Mao Tse-Tung, Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1962) 1-2.
 Heng Liang and Judith Shapiro, Son Of The Revolution (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 8.
 Tsou Tang, The Cultural Revolution and Post-Mao Reforms (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986), 69-70.
 “齐燕铭 (Chi Yen-ming),”Wikepedia, https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%BD%90%E7%87%95%E9%93%AD (Accessed 06 October 2015).
 Barbara Mittler, A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2012), 56-58.
 Ibid., 46.
 Paul Clark, Chinese Cinema: Cultural and Politics Since 1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 135.