The Death of Two Peking University Students Who Challenged Mao and the Chinese Communist Party

In 1956, after a protest march by intellectuals demanding a change in the leadership of the Communist Party and freedom from Soviet control, the Soviet Union, with the support of the Chinese Communist Party, launched a bloody crackdown that left more than 20,000 people dead. At this Time, a campaign against intellectuals was also brewing in China, a million miles away from Hungary. Mao Zedong, then the top party leader of the Communist Party of China, had caused discontent among the people, especially the intellectuals, because of his previous political, economic and cultural policies. In order that the Hungarian case would not be repeated in China, Mao was determined to eliminate the discontent, especially to silence the independent-minded intellectuals.

After a lot of planning, Mao and the CCP lured many intellectuals to “make a big noise” by “luring snakes out of holes”. Many naive intellectuals believed the CCP and voiced their discontent with the CCP. In June 1957, the “Anti-Rightist” campaign began, and 22,071 groups were designated as rightists, 17,433 right-leaning groups, and 4,127 anti-Party groups; 3,178,470 people were designated as rightists, and 1.437,562 people were classified as center-right, 437,562 people. Their fate was extremely tragic, and many of them were separated from their loved ones. This includes more than 800 rightists at Peking University, among whom at least eight students were killed, two of whom are mentioned in this article.

Liu Qidi, who openly challenged Mao, died in a tragic “trumpet” death

One was Liu Qidi, a fourth-year physics student at Peking University. According to the recollection of Chen Fengxiao, an alumnus of Peking University who was also a “rightist”, Liu Qidi, who came from Hunan Province, was not only excellent in his professional studies, but also good at composing, conducting and playing a beautiful violin, and was a man of many talents. In 1955, during the “anti-Hu Feng counter-revolutionary group” campaign, he was branded a counter-revolutionary because of his advocacy of Hu Feng, and was isolated and controlled at school, where he was tied to a window grate.

In 1956, he was “rehabilitated” after screening, and Liu Qidi continued his studies at school. But since then he was in a depressed mood, and often played mournful tunes such as “Shepherd Girl” and “Seaside Suite” in the student dormitory.

In 1957, before the counter-rightist movement, Liu Qidi put up a big poster at the south door of the dining hall of Peking University: “Hu Feng is never a counter-revolutionary – to beckon for Hu Feng”, and attached a couplet: “The iron window locks the virtuous, the sky is dark; the blood of the loyal subjects is scattered on the ground, the ghosts cry out” (Liu Qidi, 1957). (because at that time it was rumored that Hu Feng had died in a prison in Tianjin). He said in the large-character poster that the authorities’ use of Hu Feng’s correspondence with friends as the basis for his conviction was “taken out of context, far-fetched and without legal basis. It brings into the court the logic of idle chatter and Hou Baolin’s comic talk.”

The large-character poster caused a huge stir at Peking University because the charge of “Hu Feng counter-revolutionary group” was handed down by Mao Zedong. Liu Qidi’s move was clearly an open challenge to Mao, and his extraordinary courage and boldness could be imagined. He said, “What are you afraid of? I have already been branded as a counter-revolutionary once. According to the materials published in the newspapers, Hu Feng does not constitute a counter-revolutionary crime at all.” He believes that after 1949 Hu Feng was the first person to write a long poem in praise of the Chinese Communist Party, “Can such a person be a counter-revolutionary? It is absolutely impossible. Hu Feng is already dead, he died of aggression. Shouldn’t every person with a conscience complain about him?”

According to Chen Fengxiao, Liu Qidi was aware of the risk of imprisonment and death before he put up this large-character poster, but he did it with determination, and the result was not difficult to predict. He was fiercely criticized and mobbed, and even beaten, in the department and throughout the university. The continuous criticism and torture caused him to suffer from a lung disease and cough up blood continuously.

As the “anti-rightist” movement became more and more intense, Liu Qidi was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was first sent to Beijing to work as a labor campsite at Tuanhe Farm, and then to Heilongjiang Province to work as a labor campsite at Xingkai Lake Labor Reform Farm in Mishan County.

During his labor reform in Heilongjiang, he was hung up and tortured several times because he refused to confess his guilt, and then he went crazy and was stuffed into a trumpet that looked like a dog hole. According to people who had stayed in the small size, it was eighty centimeters wide, one meter high, and one and a half meters long, and people could not stand up or stretch their legs when lying down. The floor is laid twenty centimeters thick straw, in the cold winter can not withstand the cold. People who were locked in the small, not only to wear shackles, and only a day to give very little rice flour thin porridge to drink. In such an environment, Liu Qidi, who was physically weak, could not endure.

In 1961, Liu Qidi died of disease and starvation in the trumpet. He was not yet 30 years old when he died unjustly. Chen Fengxiao, who survived the disaster, dreamed many times afterwards that Liu Qidi was beaten and bloodied, and that two thugs were dragging him into the trumpet while he was screaming and struggling.

Zhang Xijun, who predicted the fall of the Chinese Communist Party, was shot

Another person who was killed was Zhang Xikun, a third-year chemistry student at Peking University from Sichuan. Chen Fengxiao, an alumnus who also studied at Peking University, recalled that he and Zhang Xikun met during the “anti-rightist” movement. At that time, Chen Fengxiao and some students of Peking University who were in pursuit of truth and defied power organized the club “Hundred Flowers Society” and founded the wall newspaper and the subsequent publication “Square”. Zhang Xikun later joined it.

Long before the establishment of the Hundred Flowers Society, Zhang Xikun had written several influential large-character posters, one of which was entitled “The Problem of the System. In the article, Zhang Xikun clearly pointed out that the root of the “three evils” (bureaucracy, sectarianism, subjectivism) lies in the system …… system is set by people. And every man has his limitations and two sides …… The dictatorship of the proletariat is embodied in the system. The system is not sacrosanct. In addition to this, he mentions the irrationality of equal suffrage, the drawbacks of too much concentration under democratic centralism and the fact that all people should be equal before the Constitution, etc. Such content is obviously unacceptable to the CCP.

The other two large-character posters were entitled “Outline of the Logic of the Defenders” and “The Call for Humanity. The former portrayed the dogmatists of those years to a T. For example, “The mistakes of the Party are individual cases, and criticism of him is against the whole Party; democracy and freedom are gifts of the Party, and to ask for more is to incite trouble; to praise and flatter is a first-class virtue, and to expose mistakes is to deny everything; to obey blindly is to deny everything; to keep everything secret is to be vigilant, and to think about it is to take an unstable position. Political compulsory is the principle of the system, if you add consideration is to oppose Marx and Lenin; the state system is long perfected, if you add accusation is to conspire to rebel; political hierarchy is the ruling lever, to abolish hierarchy is to create chaos ……”

The latter criticizes the destruction of humanity by class, the invisible persecution of people by bureaucracy, and points out the root cause of the CCP’s dehumanization, and calls on people to “stop selling their conscience, stop slaughtering their brothers. Come back to humanity”. It is said that people who read Zhang Xikun’s large-character posters admired him very much.

After Zhang Xikun joined the “Hundred Flowers Society”, Chen Fengxiao had a good impression of him and thought that he was “honest and down-to-earth, simple and sincere, loyal and enthusiastic, silent, never a show-off, and a very trustworthy person”. At the end of the anti-rightist period, the “Hundred Flowers Society” was forced to announce its dissolution, and the paper and manuscripts for printing “The Square” were also seized by the then Workers’ Daily Press. In order to resist, many members of the “Hundred Flowers Society” sold their clothes and bought a hand-powered mimeograph machine and a small amount of white paper, and worked continuously for four days and nights in Chen’s dormitory, engraving wax plates and mimeographs. Among them was Zhang Xikun.

With the increasing intensity of the “anti-rightist” movement, the fate of the “Hundred Flowers Society” and its members was predictable. In this regard, Zhang Xikun said, “The situation seems to be developing more and more unfavorably for us, and the end may be tragic for us. But in any political movement there will always be people who make sacrifices, as long as we do it with a clear conscience.” He likes to recite a poem by the English poet Byron: “To those who love me, I give a sigh; to those who hate me, I give a smile; whatever the sky overhead, I am prepared to weather any storm!”

In 1958, Chen Fengxiao, who was the organizer, was arrested, while Zhang Xijun and others were branded as rightists and sent to Beijing regiment and farms for reeducation through labor. in 1969 Lin Biao issued an order that capitalists, category four elements, and rightists were sent out of Beijing and evacuated to foreign countries. The re-Education-through-labor elements were sent back to their hometowns and handed over to the dictatorship of the masses. Zhang Xikun was therefore sent to a labor camp in northern Sichuan to continue his reeducation through labor.

Having lost his freedom for more than ten years, Zhang Xikun could not bear the endless Life of reeducation through labor and tried to organize a rebellion to escape from the labor farm, but was unsuccessful. After a failed escape, he once said bluntly to the prison authorities, “From the time I was classified as a student as a rightist, I knew that you Communists were consistently deceitful and would definitely fall for it in the future.”

In 1977, Zhang Xi Kun was shot by the authorities for “attempting to escape from the organization” and his body was taken away by his sister and buried in an unknown place in the Sichuan basin. It is said that before his execution, he was tied up and stood up instead of kneeling, and kicked the executioner in the lower body.


According to Chen Fengxiao’s account, after the death of Zhang Xi Kun, who had been married for a long time, his wife had to remarry and their only daughter took her mother’s surname. Because his daughter, who is a direct relative, did not ask for the clearing of his injustice, Zhang Xikun’s injustice has not been cleared to date. However, his penetrating insight into the Chinese Communist Party and his prediction of its downfall still ring true today.

As for how Liu Qidi’s unjust case was handled, few people know, and it seems to have been left unresolved, but this blood debt will not be forgotten and will be paid one day.