The Foreign Ministry and Foreign Affairs in China's Cultural Revolution.

by Melvin Gurtov


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An assessment of the impact of China's Cultural Revolution on her Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign relations, and foreign policy. In 1966-1967, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs came under attack by Red Guard organizations determined to carry the Cultural Revolution into the foreign affairs system. Opposing the Mao-inspired radicals, Foreign Minister Ch'en Yi sent work teams into ministry-related institutions to protect them from harassment. This adamant resistance resulted in an investigation of Ch'en, a demand of public self-criticism, and the establishment of Red Guard liaison stations within the ministry to oversee its work. The Revolution's ebb and flow, however, enabled Ch'en to maintain his position as minister and to mediate between conservative and rebel elements. Reaching peak power in August 1967, the radicals rapidly lost favor, probably due to their disregard of authority and the fact that Mao's purpose--to hold the Foreign Minister's influence in check--had been achieved. Thus Ch'en emerged the victor, but at the price of weakened authority, prestige, and health. Although Peking's foreign relations have undoubtedly been undermined, the conflict does not seem to have concerned substantive issues and China's foreign policy has returned to a diplomacy of relative moderation. 92 pp

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