February Countercurrent

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The February Countercurrent (Chinese: 二月逆流; pinyin: Èryuè nìliú), also known as the February Adverse Current, refers to the joint efforts by a group of Communist Party veterans to oppose the ultra-leftist radicalism at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. The events refer mainly to a series of stormy meetings of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China and the top military brass which took place between January and February, 1967, which pitted Communist revolutionary generals Tan Zhenlin, Chen Yi, Xu Xiangqian, Nie Rongzhen, and others against Maoist radicals led by Lin Biao, Kang Sheng, Jiang Qing, and Zhang Chunqiao. The veterans asserted that the Cultural Revolution was throwing the country into chaos and that its real aim was to purge the top leadership of the party and the military. Mao did not come into face-to-face conflict with the generals but tacitly disapproved of their actions. The generals were denounced by Lin Biao at the Eleventh Plenum of the 8th Party Congress in September 1967 as a "serious anti-party act".[1]

In 1972, Mao backtracked on the official designation given to the February Countercurrent after the death of Chen Yi at a time when Mao felt increasingly politically isolated. Mao rushed out of bed to make an impromptu appearance at Chen Yi's funeral, signalling his attempt to reach out to the old comrades who have been purged or otherwise harmed during the Cultural Revolution.

The post-Mao Communist Party reversed the verdict on the February Countercurrent; it is rarely discussed in mainland China today.


  1. "多维历史:陈丕显亲述二月逆流真相". Duowei News. August 8, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>