Of course, the seizure of control of the High Command of the People’s Liberation Army was not sufficient for the purpose of the counter-revolutionary faction. This required the ideological transformation of the army, down to the lowest ranks, into an obedient tool of the counter-revolutionary leadership.
Following the appointment of Marshal Lin Piao as Minister of Defence in 1959, in the following year the; Military Commission of the Central Committee of the Party – Chairman: Mao Tse-tung; Vice-Chairman: Lin Piao – issued to the People’s Liberation Army a call for the study of Mao Tse-tung’s thought.
In May 1964 the Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army published the first edition of the “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung” for issue to every member of the army.
In January 1966 the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army held a twenty-day conference on political work in the army. This endorsed Lin Piao’s five-point principle guiding the work of the P.L.A. in 1966, the first point of which was:
creatively study and apply Chairman Mao’s works and, in particular, make the utmost effort to apply them; regard Chairman Mao’s works as the highest instructions on all aspects of the work of the army. (“P.L.A. Conference on Political Work”, in: “Peking Review”, No.4, 1966; p.5).
But the conference went further. It went on record as holding that the broad masses of the army had now been ideologically remoulded to accept the guidance of Mao Tse-tung himself.
The conference ... noted that the broad masses of cadres and fighters showed ... greater political consciousness in remoulding their ideology and directing their activities in accordance with the guidance given by Chairman Mao Tse-tung. (“P.L.A, Conference on Political Work”, ibid.; p.5).
Thus, by the beginning of 1966 the counter-revolutionary leaders had confidence that the People’s Liberation Army was ready to be used as the main instrument of their offensive against the Communist Party and the working people. Events showed, however, that they were only partly correct.