Mao Zedong attempted to fragment society by distinguishing between different sectors of society, by labeling those whose presence was a threat to Mao Zedong communist policy the Five Black Categories.

However, one part as too I'm not too sure is how did Mao Zedong act like he did towards those in the Five Black Categories. I could not find much information regarding this particular topic, as presumably most of the papers/articles discussing about this are in Chinese.

So in summary, my question is how did Mao Zedong act like he did towards those in the Five Black Categories (through the military, politically etc.). I would also really appreciate if anyone can link me research papers/articles for further reading.

  • 4
    What have you learnt already? Wikipedia: 'People in the Five Black Categories were separated out for struggle sessions, humiliation, re-education, beating, and persecution'. WP is often wrong, but not in this case. Maybe the number one method was to torment these people so much that they committed suicide. In general, Mao did not rely on something like the NKVD, but on Mao-controlled mobs.
    – Ne Mo
    Jan 2, 2018 at 16:13
  • 2
    There's some markedly emotive language here : 'abuse', 'violently treat'. I'd prefer the question to be framed more neutrally. After all, the interesting point is why Mao acted as he did. You are looking for an explanation - why did he act as he did towards certain groups ? The emotive language is irrelevant to this. Jan 2, 2018 at 18:49
  • You're right. Edited.
    – Benn Tan
    Jan 2, 2018 at 18:56
  • Please provide links to all nontrivial concepts. What are black categories? Do you want to know how he acted or why? Question is not clear
    – MCW
    Feb 2, 2018 at 11:58

1 Answer 1


One of my great grandfathers was sent to a concentration camp and died there during the Cultural revolution only because he was a successful businessman, which was one of Mao's 'black categories' and my grandma was forced to drop out from medical school. She was then transported from Shanghai to a small town near the border with Russia; she worked there as a laborer for 5 years just because she was the off-spring of 'black material'.

  • 1
    What particular group of people did a successful businessman belong to in the Five Black Categories (rightists, landlords, rich farmers, bad-influencers or counter-revolutionaries)?
    – Benn Tan
    Jan 3, 2018 at 7:35
  • I don't know exactly which one, but businessmen ("capitalists") had a shitty life in all communist countries. Feb 6, 2018 at 16:50

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