(18) Exporting revolutions(2)

During the Cultural Revolution, the CCP often quoted a slogan by Karl Marx: “The proletariat can liberate itself only by liberating all of humanity.” The CCP preaches world revolution. In the 1960s, the former Soviet Union was going through a period of contraction and was forced to promote an ideological line of retrenching efforts at external revolution. The goal became to peacefully coexist with Western capitalist countries and provide less support to Third World revolutionary movements.

The CCP called this policy “revisionism.” In the early 1960s, CCP Ambassador to the Soviet Union Wang Jiaxiang made a similar proposal but was criticized by Mao as being too friendly to the imperialists, revisionists, and reactionaries, and not supportive enough of the world revolutionary movement. Therefore, in addition to exporting revolution to Asia, Mao also competed with the Soviet Union in Africa and Latin America.

In August 1965, CCP Minister of National Defense Lin Biao claimed in his article “Long Live the Victory of the People’s War!” that a high tide in world revolution was imminent. According to Mao’s theory of “encircling the cities from rural areas” (which is how the CCP seized power in China), the article compares North America and Western Europe to cities and imagines Asia, Africa, and Latin America as rural areas. Therefore, exporting revolution to Asia, Africa, and Latin America became an important political and ideological task for the CCP.


Professor Cheng Yinghong of the University of Delaware wrote the following in his article “Exporting Revolution to the World: An Exploratory Analysis of the Influence of the Cultural Revolution in Asia, Africa, and Latin America”:

In Latin America, Maoist communists in the mid-1960s established organizations in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The main members were young people and students. With the support of China, in 1967 Maoists in Latin America established two guerrilla groups: The Popular Liberation Army of Colombia[, which] included a female company that mimicked the Red Detachment of Women and was called the María Cano Unit[, and] Bolivia’s Ñancahuazú Guerrilla, or National Liberation Army of Bolivia. Some communists in Venezuela also launched armed violence actions in the same period.

In addition, the left leader of the Peruvian Communist Party, Abimael Guzmán, was trained in Beijing in the late 1960s. Apart from studying explosives and firearms, more importantly was his grasping of Mao Zedong Thought, particularly ideas of “the spirit transforming to matter,” and that with the correct route, one can go from “not having personnel to having personnel; not having guns to having guns,” and other mantras of the Cultural Revolution.

Guzmán was the leader of the Peruvian Communist Party (also known as the “Shining Path”), which was identified by the U.S., Canadian, EU, and Peruvian governments as a terrorist organization.

In 1972, when Mexico and the CCP established diplomatic relations, the first Chinese ambassador to Mexico was Xiong Xianghui. Xiong was a CCP intelligence agent sent to monitor Hu Zongnan (a general in the Republic of China Army) during the Chinese civil war. The intent of making him the ambassador was to collect intelligence (including about the United States) and interfere with the Mexican government. Just one week before Xiong Xianghui took office, Mexico announced the arrest of a group of “guerrillas trained in China.” This is further evidence of the CCP’s attempts at exporting revolution. [18]

Cuba was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic ties with the CCP. In order to win over Cuba and at the same time compete with the Soviet Union for the leadership of the international communist movement, the CCP extended to Che Guevara a $60 million loan in November 1960 when he visited China. This was at a time when Chinese people were dying of starvation from the Great Leap Forward campaign. Zhou Enlai also told Guevara that the loan could be waived through negotiations.

When Fidel Castro began leaning toward the Soviet Union after Sino–Soviet relations broke down, the CCP sent a large number of propaganda pamphlets to Cuban officials and civilians through the embassy in Havana in an attempt to instigate a coup against the Castro regime. [19]


Cheng also described in the article “Exporting Revolution to the World” how the CCP influences the independence of African countries and what kind of path they take after independence:

According to Western media reports, before the mid-1960s, some African revolutionary youth from Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cameroon, and Congo received training in Harbin, Nanjing, and other Chinese cities. A member of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) described his one-year training in Shanghai. In addition to military training, it was mainly political studies, how to mobilize rural people and launch guerrilla warfare with the goal of people’s war. An Oman guerrilla described his training received in China in 1968. He was sent by the organization first to Pakistan, then took a Pakistan Airlines plane to Shanghai, then to Beijing.

After visiting model schools and communes in China, he was sent to a training camp for military training and ideological education. … The curriculum of Mao Zedong’s works was the most important in the schedule. Trainees must memorize many quotations from Mao. The part about discipline and how to interact with the rural masses was very similar to the “Three Major Disciplines and Eight Items of Attention” used by the People’s Liberation Army. The African trainees also witnessed China during the Cultural Revolution. For example, during a visit to a school, when a teacher asked “how to treat gangster elements,” students replied repeatedly in unison “Kill. Kill. Kill.” … At the end of the training, every Omani trainee received a book by Mao translated into Arabic. [20]

Assistance to Tanzania and Zambia was the largest of the CCP’s external revolution projects in Africa in the 1960s.

The CCP sent a large number of experts from the Shanghai Textile Industry Bureau to help build the Tanzanian Friendship Textile Factory. The person in charge injected a strong ideological tone into these aid projects. Upon arrival in Tanzania, he organized a rebel team, hung the five-star red flag of the PRC on the construction site, erected a statue of Mao and Mao’s quotations, played Cultural Revolution music, and sang Mao quotes. The construction site became a model of the Cultural Revolution overseas. He also organized a propaganda team of Mao Zedong Thought and actively spread rebellious views among Tanzanian workers. Tanzania was not happy about the CCP’s attempts to export revolution.

Afterward, Mao decided to build a Tanzania–Zambia railway that would also connect East Africa with Central and southern Africa. The railway passed through mountains, valleys, turbulent rivers, and lush forests. Many areas along the route were deserted and inhabited only by wildlife. Some of the roadbeds, bridges, and tunnels were constructed on foundations of silt and sand, making the work extremely difficult. There were 320 bridges and 22 tunnels built.

China sent 50,000 laborers, of whom 66 died, and spent nearly 10 billion yuan. It took six years to complete the work, from 1970 to 1976. However, due to poor and corrupt management in Tanzania and Zambia, the railway went bankrupt. The equivalent cost of the railway today would be hundreds of billions of Chinese yuan, or in the tens of billions of U.S. dollars.

The leader of the Peruvian Communist Party, Ernesto ‘CHE” Guevara, is greeted by Communist Chinese officials including Mao Zedong on his arrival in Beijing in November of 1960.
CONGO – DECEMBER 01: Two Congolese soldiers reading President MAO’s LITTLE RED BOOK in December 1966, distributed in Africa by Chinese Communists. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
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