Cultural Revolution on the Border: Yunnan's "Political Frontier Defence"

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper addresses an important but so far neglected episode in the post-1949 history of China – the impact of the so-called 'Cultural Revolution' on the country's ethnic minority populations. Specifically, it attempts to deal with the movement as it unfolded in the province of Yunnan where, at one stage, it became an attempt by a political leadership in the provincial capital, dominated by
military officers and supported by members of the central authorities in Beijing, to alter the landscape of the ethnic minority populations along the frontier. Using information culled from local histories and contemporary sources, the paper traces the history of what even by the standards of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) came to be regarded as an exceptionally flawed and counterproductive
policy. It foregrounds the human cost of its implementation and, for the first time, goes some way towards explaining – in more than simply general terms of labels like 'excesses' and 'ultra-leftism' – the trauma of those who survived it, a trauma that to this day still lingers in popular memory.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History and Archaeology


  • China, Politics, Ethnic Minorities, Military, Yunnan, Cultural Revolution
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-54
JournalThe Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch