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Excellent Opportunity for Restudy

— A visit to the Liaoning Provincial May 7 Cadre School

by Our Correspondents Cheng Chih and Chou Chin

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 19, #21, May 21, 1976, pp. 10-13.]

Guided by Clwirman Mao’s May 7 Directive (see our last issue), large numbers of May 7 cadre schools have been set up all over China. They are a socialist new thing that has emerged during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

What is a May 7 cadre school? What is its significance? And what do the students gain in these schools? These and other questions are explained in articles published in this issue and the next citing instances from the Liaoning Provincial Cadre School.

* * *

IT was in early spring when we visited the Liaoning Provincial May 7 Cadre School in northeast China.

This is a new-type school set up in 1968 during the Great Cultural Revolution for training and educating by rotation cadres froth organs of the provincial Party committee and the provincial revolutionary committee (i.e., the people’s government) as well as leading cadres at the city, prefectural and county levels. Based on the principle of voluntariness, the cadres have to send in their applications before they are approved by the leadership for enrolment in the school. The period of training is one year.

Set up in a village 150 kilometres away from Shenyang, the provincial capital, the school has over 60 hectares of paddyfields, non-irrigated land and kitchen gardens, a piggery with more than 300 pigs, a poultry farm, a fish pond, a small workshop for repairing machines and a winery, thereby providing plenty of room for the students to do manual labour. It has tractors, including the easy-to-handle walking-tractors, and an impressive array of farm machines and tools. In addition, there are dormitories, a mess hall, a library and a recreation centre, all built by the students over the years.

While at school, the students get their wages from their respective units as usual, and they return to work there after the period of training. Many of the 760 students enrolled in early October last year are cadres holding important leading posts. They are divided into eight groups which are again divided into several subgroups with a dozen or so people each.

There are altogether 97 May 7 cadre schools in Liaoning Province. Apart from this school run by the provincial authorities, there are others run by the various cities and counties or by large industrial and mining enterprises for training their own cadres by rotation. For instance, the task of a city-run cadre school is to train in rotation cadres from government organizations at the city level and cadres from industrial and transport, financial and trade, cultural and educational departments under the city administration. Students of the county-run cadre schools are cadres from county organizations and rural people’s communes. In the last eight years, 390,000 cadres have received training ranging from six months to one year in the cadre schools throughout Liaoning Province.


Chairman Mao has always attached great importance to training and educating cadres. In the early stage of the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-45), he personally founded the Anti-Japanese Military and Political College in Yenan. In his inscription for the college, Chairman Mao issued the call: “While studying engage in production?” That is to say, the college was to be run in accordance with the principle of integrating education with material production. During those difficult years of war, the teachers and students lived together in cave-dwellings, used pine-splints for lighting, slept on straw and ate millet. At the same time as they studied revolutionary theories, they launched a “great production campaign” in which they reclaimed wasteland for farming and engaged in spinning and weaving to achieve ample food and clothing through self-reliance. The college trained large numbers of revolutionary cadres who have played an important role in the revolutionary wars and the revolutionary cause as a whole.

Since China entered the period of socialist revolution in 1949, Chairman Mao has repeatedly put forward the question of educating the cadres. In 1966 he issued the famous May 7 Directive in which he called upon the people in all trades and professions to learn other things while engaging mainly in activities in their own fields, that is, to learn industrial and agricultural production and military affairs and criticize the bourgeoisie. Chairman Mao instructed: “Where conditions permit, those working in ... Party and government organizations should do the same.”

Taking part in physical labour.

Guided by Chairman Mao’s directive, the Heilungkiang Provincial Revolutionary Committee in northeast China organized a group of cadres to go down to do manual labour in May 1968 and set up a May 7 cadre school in Liuho. Chairman Mao gave it warm support in a written comment in October that year when he said: “Going down to do manual labour gives vast numbers of cadres an excellent opportunity to study once again; this should be done by all cadres except those who are old, weak, ill or disabled.”

Since then, May 7 cadre schools have sprung up all over the country like bamboo shoots after a rain in spring. Cadre schools set up by organizations directly under the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and various departments under the State Council totalled more than a hundred. The Liaoning Provincial Cadre School was also established at that time.


During our visit, a leading comrade of the school told us: The school has set up offices in charge of organizing labour and studies for the students and of administration and management, all of which function under the unified leadership of the school Party committee. The fundamental aim of the school is to train a contingent of cadres armed with Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought. These cadres should be capable of working at both higher and lower levels, serving as “officials” while remaining one of the common people, maintaining close ties with the masses and giving wholehearted service to the people. In all its work, therefore, the school aims at transforming the students’ ideology.

The school leadership stresses that labour is a major subject and that students should transform their thinking and remould their world outlook through participation in collective productive labour. Because of the difference in the physical strength of the students, the youngest being 20 and the oldest about 60, every student is expected to work to the best of his ability and consciously temper himself through labour.

A joyful atmosphere of harmony and unity prevailed among the students who, whatever their rank, took an active part in manual labour. At dawn every morning, we saw some old students, with baskets on their backs, set out to collect animal dung for fertilizer, while the younger ones went to dig ditches in preparation for spring irrigation. After breakfast, they went to work in the fields with shovels and carts, chatting and laughing on the way. A few went by truck to a distant place to transport sand for transforming the alkaline land. In the kitchen, we saw the secretary of a prefectural Party committee chopping vegetables and the secretary of a county Party committee washing bowls; both were working as cooks. In the piggery, a leading cadre from the provincial bureau in charge of allocation of materials was feeding the pigs. A 60-year-old deputy secretary of a city Party committee took the initiative in cleaning the corridors and the water closets every day during his year-long stay at the school.

After the new students enter the school each year, the school authorities allot to each group a large tract of land as a base for productive labour, averaging about one mu (or one-fifteenth of a hectare) per person, so that the students can acquaint themselves with the whole process of agricultural production during their one year in school. Take the cultivation of paddyrice for instance. The students have to take part in nursing and transplanting seedlings, weeding and loosening the soil to facilitategrowth, applying fertilizer as well as harvesting and threshing. They also take turns to grow vegetables, feed pigs and work in the kitchen for a period of time.

Since participation in manual labour is aimed at changing the students’ ideology, “ideological mobilization” is carried out whenever some rush work requiring a concentration of manpower has to be done, such as transplanting rice seedlings or harvesting. In the course of labour, the students comment on each other’s work and attitude, followed by a discussion on what they have gained ideologically through manual labour. Members of the various groups also analyse some of the happenings with a view to raising their ideological level. For example, to harrow a plot of land, once a tractor had to pass through two plots of paddyfields which had been levelled by another group, leaving behind deep furrows. Some of the students in this group were displeased with this. A discussion was organized centring round the question of whether one should place the interests of others before one’s own and take into consideration the situation as a whole or, like the narrow-minded small producers, think only about oneself. The result was those comrades who were in their tantrums changed their attitude and looked at the incident in the right perspective.

Putting up wall newspapers criticizing Teng Hsiao-ping
and repulsing the Right deviationist wind.

Thanks to the hard work of the students year after year, tremendous changes have taken place in the school. In the room devoted to an exhibition of the school’s history, we saw a photo showing a vast stretch of alkaline land overgrown with reeds when the first group of students came here eight years ago. Working together with the local poor and lower-middle peasants for three winter months, the students built a trunk canal which they called “Shenglitang” (meaning Victory Pond) to divert water from the Liaoho River to irrigate the farmland. Conditions were difficult at that time. Since there were no houses, they had to live temporarily with the peasants in the vicinity, and for drinking water they had to melt pieces of ice in winter. As we walked round the school, our guide pointed to the rows of houses built of red bricks and tiles by the students in the early years. The stones used for the foundation were quarried in the mountains and the bricks were also made by themselves.

Conditions today have improved enormously. Material achievements are of course considerable, but more important are what the students have gained ideologically. Some students have put it well: The militant life as a collective in the school and the collective labour have done away with the distinction between mental and manual labour and the ranks between the leading comrades and the rank and file.


We visited the students’ dormitories where we saw big-character posters criticizing the arch unrepentant capitalist-roader in the Party Teng Hsiao-ping and repulsing,the Right deviationist wind all along the corridors. Criticism meetings were being held by many groups.

We were informed by one of the school’s leading comrades that half of the time during the students’ one-year training is devoted to studying revolutionary theories, with the accent on the theory on class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat expounded by the revolutionary teachers. We were also told that the school sees to it that study is carried out in accordance with Chairman Mao’s teaching: “As for education for cadres whether at work or in schools for cadres, a policy should he established of focusing such education on the study of the practical problems of the Chinese revolution and using the basic principles of Marxism-Leninism as the guide.” (Reform Our Study.) For this reason, study is always closely connected with present-day class struggle and two-line struggle.

Only when study is conducted in this way is it possible for the students to effectively expedite the remoulding of their world outlook. As soon as they enter the school, they write down the most important ideological questions they wish to solve during their period of training in school. For example, some leading cadres who were criticized by the masses during the Great Cultural Revolution for having carried out Liu Shao-chi’s revisionist line are eager to find out the reasons why they failed to distinguish between Marxism-Leninism and revisionism. So they hope to gain, through study, a deeper understanding of the harm done by the revisionist line and of the tremendous significance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, so that they can take a correct attitude towards the Great Cultural Revolution, the masses and themselves. Uppermost in the minds of some young cadres newly promoted to leading posts is the question of retaining the fine qualities of a rank-and-file labourer. With definite aims in mind, they study Marxism-Leninism and criticize revisionism, hold discussion meetings or engage in heart-to-heart talks. In this way, they solve step by step their own problems and at the same time help others tackle theirs.

Students in the cadre school also take society as their classroom and learn from the workers and peasants. Apart from inviting outstanding workers, peasants and soldiers to give talks to the students, the school makes arrangements for them to go to the factories and villages for two months every year to live and labour alongside the workers and peasants. At the same time they make social surveys in some advanced communes and production brigades. By summarizing the experience gained by the locality in energetically grasping class struggle and criticizing capitalist tendencies to bring about a rapid development in production, the students go a step further to foster in their minds the concept that class struggle must be taken as the key link in order to do a good job in every field of work. In January last year when an earthquake had taken place in the southern part of Liaoning Province, the school immediately organized the students to go to the epicentral area. There they studied revolutionary theories together with the local poor and lower-middle peasants to enhance their confidence in offsetting the damages done. They also took part in restoring production and rebuilding the peasants’ houses. In the meantime, they saw and heard about many heroic deeds performed by the masses of the people in overcoming the difficulties, which was a profound education to them.

Animated Life

Life in the cadre school is gay and full of colour. Besides physical labour and study, the students go in for recreational activities of various kinds. Every day when the reveille is sounded at six in the morning, the school becomes astir with the students jogging round the campus, doing setting-up exercises or practising the traditional Chinese taichi boxing. During the noon breaks, keenly contested ball matches are often played, while in the evening many learn to sing new revolutionary songs. Weekends often find the students giving theatrical performances, such as songs, Peking operas, quick-patter rhymes accompanied by castanets, many of which are composed by themselves. During our visit we saw the performance by a chorus made up of over 20 old cadres—veterans who saw action in the anti-Japanese war, Though in their fifties or sixties, they were still full of revolutionary youthfulness. In the chorus was a veteran Red Army man who had joined the revolution in the early 1930s. He said to us: “When we sing revolutionary songs, we feel much younger and we seem to relive those days in Yenan during the revolutionary war. Life in the cadre school spurs us to redouble our efforts and makes us all the more determined to carry the revolution through to the end.”

As We left the school, the sound of singing still rang in our ears:

In the glow of the morning sun
Rising above the eastern horizon,
We march forward along the road
Charted by the May 7 Directive.
We conscientiously study Marxism-Leninism,
And pledge to always continue the revolution.
We come to the countryside to learn from the workers and peasants,
And temper ourselves in the crucible of labour.

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