Orchid Revolution

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 This article is a C-class article. It is written satisfactorily but needs improvement. This article is part of Altverse II.
Orchid Revolution
Part of the Revolutions of 2000
Orchid revolution.jpg
Protestors in Harbin during the revolution
Date November 30, 1999 - January 28, 2000
Location Communist Manchuria flag.png Manchu People's Republic
Causes
Methods
  • Civil resistance
  • Demonstrations
  • Strikes
  • Violent protest
  • General strike
Result Revolutionary victory
Parties to the civil conflict

Communist Manchuria flag.png Communist regime
Flag of the MPDF.png Armed Forces
MCP.png Communist Party
People's Secrurity Secretariat.png Shūjìchù

Flag of Manchuria.svg Anti-government protesters
Flag of Manchuria.svg Popular Front
Flag of Manchuria.svg Manzuxiehui
Democratic party.gif Minzhudang

Lead figures

Communist Manchuria flag.png Tao Shiyou
Communist Manchuria flag.png Yuan Xiang
Flag of the MPDF.png Qing Hongshu
People's Secrurity Secretariat.png Sun Xianxheng

Flag of Manchuria.svg Du Changhao
Flag of Manchuria.svg Wang Ximing
Flag of Manchuria.svg Li Ling
Flag of Manchuria.svg Li Dongfang

Casualties
Around 80 killed, and thousands injured and/or arrested
The Orchid Revolution (Chinese: ㄌㄢㄏㄨㄚ ㄍㄜㄇㄧㄥ; Lánhuā gémìng) refers to a period of political unrest in Manchuria that saw the toppling of the communist regime through the use of demonstrations, mass protests, civil disobedience and in some cases violence. It has sometimes been characterized as a colour revolution, and was part of a larger revolutionary wave that saw the toppling of Landonist and communist regimes worldwide.

The revolutions roots were found in mass dissatisfaction in communist party rule which was highly authoritarian, moreso after 1986 when communist party First Secretary Tao Shiyou became more repressive after a brief period of liberalisation under New Communism. Economic stagnation had led to high youth unemployment and lower standards of living, resulting in may young people becoming disillusioned with the regime. In November 1999 several students flew the flag of the First Manchu Republic in the city of Dalian resulting in their arrest, whih subsequently led to a wave of protests against the communist regime. When Dalian party secretary Du Changhao released the students after public pressure the CPM tried to launch a military crackdown on the protests which had erupted around the country with opposition groups most prominently the Popular Front for Democracy and Revolution starting to organise.

In December the secret police attempted to perform a crackdown in the largest city of Mukden which was repulsed by the Armed Forces as the CPM succumbed to factionalism. On December 13th, Tao was ousted by reformists led by Yuan Xiang who tried to pass economic reform before announcing multi party elections would be held in January. Protests continued until the premierial and constituent assembly elections which saw opposition leader Du Changhao elected to President in 2000 as well as the Popular Front winning a majority in the constituent assembly. Shortly afterwards the Manchu People's Republic was dissolved as Marxism-Leninism was formally abandoned, being replaced by the Third Manchu Republic.

Name[edit | edit source]

Within Manchuria, the revolution is commonly referred to as the Jǐsì Revoultion (ㄐㄧㄙ; named after the year of the Jisi (i.e 1989) stem-branch in the sexagenary cycle of the Chinese calendar) or the Thirtieth November Revolution (ㄉㄧ ㄙㄢㄕ ㄐㄧㄝ ㄕㄧ ㄩㄝ ㄍㄜㄇㄧㄥ; Dì sānshí jiè shíyī yuè gémìng). It is also sometimes known as the Second Manchu Revolution (ㄉㄧ ㄦ ㄇㄢㄗㄨ ㄍㄜㄇㄧㄥ; Dì èr mǎnzu gémìng). In the west it is most commonly known as the Orchid Revolution (ㄌㄢㄏㄨㄚ ㄍㄜㄇㄧㄥ; Lánhuā gémìng) after Manchuria's national flower and in keeping in style with other colour revolutions - however the term is not commonly used in Manchuria.

Background[edit | edit source]

Qian Yiu-tong[edit | edit source]

Manchuria had been governed as a single party Marxist-Leninist state known as the Manchu People's Republic since 1946, with the main political organ being the Communist Party of Manchuria. In 1981 longtime conservative leader Qian Yiu-tong died paving the way for Tao Shiyou to ascend to the position of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Manchuria, widely considered to be the most powerful office in the country. Tao was already the Chairman of the CPM's Standing Committee, the third highest ranking position within the regime with the second being the Premier of Manchuria.

Under Qian, consensus based leadership was utilised as a model of governing the CPM. Qian was more concerned about retaining political stability above all else, and thus balanced power between the hardline Stalinist faction of the party (led by Premier Rao Shaozheng) and the reformist faction (led Chairman of the Standing Committee Wan Shuangjiang). Qian, Rao and Wan effectively ruled as a troika in which Qian exercised the most control. This system became known as the "Black River Protocol" whereby party factionalism was rampant. In 1967 the reformists outmanoeuvred the Stalinist faction launching the Zhongshan Movement which saw cultural controls relaxed and mild economic reforms pursued - however 9 years later party conservatives launched a purge known as the Anti-Reactionary Campaign that saw the reformist faction crippled as Wan was purged, with Qian and Rao becoming the driving forces behind the government. Following the October Crisis in 1976 the Chairman of the Standing Committee Tao Shiyou and his moderate faction entered a power struggle with the party conservatives which became led by Rao as Qian's health rapidly deteriorated. In 1981, Qian died with Tao becoming First Secretary of the Party. The post of Chairman of the Central Military Commission (the de facto head of the military) was passed to Qing Hongshu who was also a member of Tao's faction as was the propagandist in chief, Gao Yuzhang. With Tao's allies dominating the Communist Party, the armed forces, and the propaganda department, Tao was from 1981 effectively the dictator of Manchuria with his conservative rivals centred within the National Democratic Council and led by Rao only serving as a token opposition.

Tao Shiyou and Manchu Communism[edit | edit source]

Shortly after coming to power, Tao launched the quasi-nationalist Manchu Path to Communism which aimed to introduce pragmatic economic reforms, political decentralisation and a foreign policy based around realpolitik. Manchu Communism was intended to be a compromise to pragmatic aims with idealogical purity, with reform being tightly controlled and cautious i nature. Due to the conservative nature of the central government in Harbin Tao gave more power to local party bosses in the hope that they would more readily implement reforms which consisted of experimentation with market mechanisms (such as wage differentials, price controls liberalised and greater focus on consumer goods), the opening up of Manchuria to tourists and subsequent development of the Manchu tourism industry and greater investment into light industry. Tao also aimed to continue the modernisation of Manchuria's industry that had started under Qian.

Manchu Communism also led to the liberalisation of Manchurian culture. Justified under the banner of Manchuria recovering its "national consciousness" the lifting of cultural controls led to several underground dissidents to call for reform in Manchuria. Centred in universities these dissidents (such as Guo Ping, Raoguo Jixu, Xi Yunhai and Yu Biao) often advocated for political as well as economic reform. Many of these academics had close links with reform minded local secretaries such as Du Changhao in Dalian, Liu Xiaoyun in Yingkou, Jiang De in Jinzhou and Tan Xuefen in Panjin all of whom experimented with the most radical reform within Manchuria, earning them the prerogative "Radical Revisionists" by conservative members of the CPM. These regional secretaries (disproportionally located in the south of the country) provided a key pillar of support for Tao within the party. Within the party, some of these reformists most prominently Du being named as possible successors to Tao.

Union of Free Workers and August Speech[edit | edit source]

The reform movement within Manchuria was given a major boost when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced perestroika in the Soviet Union. This led to a greater push for reform within Manchuria at a grassroots level as people rallied for the central government to pursue political and social change. In March the Manchurian Union of Free Workers' was created as an underground, independent trade union that called for greater workers' rights within the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat. The MUFW was somewhat inspired by the Polish trade union Solidarity.

The People's Jingcha crushing the Manchurian Union of Free Workers'
On the 4th August 1986 the local government in Qiqihar announced it was release over two thousand workers from an oil plant to be relocated into coal mines. The move was widely unpopular due to mining work being notoriously dangerous and severely underpaid. Many of these workers' were members of the MUFW and as such heavily protested against the planned move, trying to negotiate with the local government to reverse the decision. The local government ignored their calls for negotiation causing the workers' on the 11th August to stage a strike in the oil plant. In response the local government with approval sent the People's Jingcha (Militsiya) to crush the striking workers'. After short confrontation the workers' were detained and eventually sent to the coal mines or labour camps.

The suppression of the MUFW initially split the reformists and the conservatives within the central government. Facing pressure from the conservatives Tao quickly approved of the action taken against the MUFW and called for the Shūjìchù to root out and destroy the MUFW entirely. On the 23rd August Tao delivered a speech named On the protection of the socialist revolution (or the August Speech) in which he condemned the perestroika reforms within the USSR branding Gorbachev as a reactionary. He blasted reformists who wished for a "repeal of socialism" and subsequently created the Committee for the Protection of Socialism headed by the head of the Shūjìchù and prominent hardliner Sun Xianxheng leading to the removal of many reformists within the party. The most high profile reformist to survive the purge was Dalian Party Secretary Du Changhao.

Impact[edit | edit source]

Legacy[edit | edit source]