For over a year the students have taken the lead in the Cultural Revolution all over China. Now the emphasis has shifted to the workers. This is a suitable moment to take stock. The following is a brief outline of the situation at Zhongda (Sun Yat-sen University)—October 1967—and a very simplified summary of the events that led up to this situation.

We have a student body at Zhongda of about 5,000, together with a staff of teachers and others of about 1,000. The walled campus covers about two square miles. We are split up mainly into three groupings. Two large organizations—the Red Flag Commune (rfc) and the Rebellious Committee (rc)—and a considerable body of people who for one reason or another have joined no group, or belong to groups loosely connected with one or other of the large organizations. At writing, the rfc probably has about 2,500 members, of whom perhaps 1,000–1,500 are on the campus and the remainder at home, away in other cities or working in nearby factories or communes. The rc has perhaps 1,000 members, most of whom are in Canton. The Committee left the campus in late July soon after the commencement of the period of fighting. Several hundred are now staying in a nearby factory where the workers are sympathetic, and negotiating for their return to college. (As I write, the news has come in that they are returning tomorrow.) Most of the teaching staff and workers are living as usual in the campus, and a large fraction of the teaching staff and some members of the administrative staff belong to the rfc.

The ordinary life of the campus, such as eating arrangements, services, shops, and so on are normal. About a mile of hoardings are covered with da tse bao, which are still frequently changed, and every day and until late at night there are numbers of people reading them. The main topics of the da tse bao are the repudiation of Liu-Teng-Taofootnote1 (especially the last, as he was First Secretary of the Central South Bureau of the Party until his promotion last year, and worked in Canton), and the new campaigns to ‘Combat selfishness and criticise revisionism’ and to form alliances of the mass organizations. The university is administered by the leading committee of the rfc, and the old administrative staff. There is a small unit of People’s Liberation Army men living on the campus, which takes part in some mass meetings, acts as liaison between the university and the Military Commission, but in the main is very inconspicuous. Its presence here, like that of similar groups in all sorts of work places, is to discourage further acts of violence and to give moral support to the rebel groups.

After the two months of fighting and dislocation, work is rapidly returning to normal all over Canton. With news coming in from day to day of previously hostile groups of workers solving their differences, forming alliances and settling down to work together, the students are acutely aware that they are now falling behind the workers, and have suffered from individualistic and anarchistic tendencies.

In this setting, our rfc is embarking on a week of self-criticism with the emphasis on ‘rooting out selfishness’, and is discussing the problem of forming an alliance with the rc. We went to three meetings which were a preparation for the week’s activity, and have started going to the criticism meetings. The first meeting was for the whole of the rfc, and about 2,000 people turned up to it. Chairman Mao’s recent remarks relating to the need to unite were read out, together with extracts from editorials and speeches in national papers, and then discussed. The second meeting was of the Language Department section of the rfc, and about 150 people came. The present situation was outlined and discussed, and several leading members admitted serious shortcomings and asked for criticism. Members who had left the campus during the period of fighting were criticized. The general weaknesses of intellectuals including students were noted. The over-riding need to get the rest of the rfc members and the rc back to the campus was stressed again and again. Finally each speaker touched on the need to root out selfishness from one’s own mind. The third meeting we attended was for members of the teachers’ group of the Language Department, and stretched over two days. This covered the same ground as the larger meeting, but we also discussed whether or not it would be better to meet together with the students or remain as a teachers’ group.