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The Hundred Flowers Campaign

The Hundred Flowers Campaign is a movement in China which was started by Mao Zedong in 1956, who had advocated for free expression after coming to power. Mao wanted intellectuals to be able to express themselves without fear of retaliation from the Communist Party.
The name Hundred Flowers Campaign is derived from a poem written by Mao Zedong. The opening line of the poem is: "Let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend." The intention of this campaign was to increase dialogue and debate about different perspectives.
The campaign began when Mao called on people in Beijing and Shanghai to write criticisms of the Communist Party. As more and more people participated in these discussions, they were asked about their economic injustices or other issues with society that they felt needed changing. However, this open discussion soon turned into an attack against communism itself as many intellectuals criticized how it limited individual freedom.
This led to some public denouncements of criticism against the Communist Party. The Hundred Flowers Campaign ended when Mao had labeled the event as anti-communist, just months after it began. It is often considered a failure by the Chinese government even though many citizens were more aware of their rights and freedoms because of this movement.
Many participants were labeled rightists and fell victims of the Anti-Rightist Campaign, which was a nationwide movement that took place in China in 1957-1959. It is estimated that at least 350,000 people were persecuted; half of them were rehabilitated. Although it might seem that Mao was setting a trap for the intellectuals by dressing it up as an act of kindness, many people could still speak their mind even if they were criticized.
This movement was meant to increase dialogue among citizens and lead them to become more aware of their freedoms; however, because of the criticism that ensued within this campaign pertained not only to problems in society but also against communism itself, it ended in failure.
It was only when the criticism went against the Communist Party that Mao turned against them and labeled this movement as anti-communist. This act is seen by many even today to be another example of how Mao Zedong suppressed his people for disagreeing with him.

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