Courtesy Reuters

For the Chinese Communist Party, this year's "great proletarian cultural revolution" has meant the most serious purge since the disgrace of Defense Minister P'eng Teh-huai and two other Politburo members during the Great Leap Forward. P'eng Chen, effectively the sixth-ranking member of the Chinese Politburo, has been dismissed from the key post of first secretary of the Peking municipal party committee together with his senior colleagues. At least one other Politburo member, propaganda chief Lu Ting- yi, has been sacked along with many subordinates throughout the country. The long-missing Chief-of-Staff of the People's Liberation Army (P.L.A.) has been replaced and the army has undergone its third struggle over professionalism versus political control Finally at a giant rally in Peking on August 18, it was revealed that Mao's heir-apparent of twenty-years standing, head of state Liu Shao-ch'i, had been demoted several steps in the national hierarchy and had been replaced as Number 2 by Defense Minister Lin Piao. It is a startling picture of disarray in a Communist party which for most of the 31 years of Mao's chairmanship has been a model of solidarity at the top. What has happened to dispel the spirit of comradeship in that generation which participated in the Long March? Is the Chinese party now to undergo the periodic purging which has been the fate of the Soviet party ever since the death of Lenin? Are we witnessing a struggle for the succession to China's aging if still active father figure? Or is Mao himself turning into a Stalin in his old age?

Over the last few years Mao has been obsessed with one problem above all others: the danger that his brand of Communism will degenerate in China after his death. As the Sino-Soviet dispute over foreign policy has worsened, Mao has examined the internal situation of the Soviet Union with increasing foreboding. His worries were finally expressed in codified form in the last of the nine great polemics which the Chinese party directed against Moscow

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