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On the 21-hr. flight from Shanghai to Canton, the Americans' plane arrived late. Their Chinese hosts delayed the start of the next entertainment, a "revolutionary ballet," The Red Detachment of Women, celebrating the opening of the Canton export commodity fair this month. Afterward, the guests were given another huge ten-course banquet, starting at 11:30 p.m. Finally, at week's end, overfed, laden with gifts, but self-assured in their new celebrity role, the table tennis play ers crossed back over the short, steel-trussed bridge to Hong Kong, where they were met by a besieging crowd of newsmen.
Rampaging Red Guards Probably the most important message that the Americans brought back was the one their hosts most wanted to get across in a subtle way: that China today is an ordered, ostensibly united, rational society, even if it is still light-years removed from being an open one. That is a major change from only a few years ago, when China was wracked by the convulsions of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of 1966-69.
At the time, Mao Tse-tung, concerned that China had lost its revolutionary fervor, decreed a purge of the party and state bureaucracy to re-radicalize the country. Among other measures, he ordered 110 million Chinese schoolchildren and university students from their classes to help carry it out. Almost immediately, Mao's new revolution got out of hand. Vicious factional fighting erupted across the land.
Youthful Red Guards attacked not only Mao's political enemy and the symbol of bureaucratic pragmatism, President Liu Shao-chi (reported last week to be alive but in prison), but Mao's most trusted aides as well. Red Guard posters in Peking urged: BURN CHOU EN-LAI TO DEATH! But in the provinces, conservative workers and peasants turned on the rampaging Red Guards and in some cases ripped off their noses, fingers, tongues and ears before murdering them.
For two years, the outside world looked on in horror, and China's diplomatic and trade activity abroad came almost to a halt as its ambassadors were recalled and sent to do manual labor in "thought reform" camps to purge them of their " capitalist tendencies." Finally, Mao became alarmed at the forces he had unleashed and called in the army to restore control. In a "big cleanup," there were mass arrests, public trials and executions of "factionalists, reactionaries, anarchists,' saboteurs and opportunists." Open fighting persisted in the provinces until 1969, and political strife continued as radical Red Guard factions fought for control of provincial revolutionary committees.
One major factor that jolted