chapter  IX
The Case of Peng Dehuai and the Brief Revival of the Great Leap (1959–1960)
ByBill Brugger
Pages 23

This chapter provides a chronological account of the Peng Dehuai case and will attempt to integrate it with some of the different interpretations. Like most Chinese leaders, Peng Dehuai undertook tours of inspection in the autumn of 1958 to evaluate the progress of the Great Leap and probably attended the Wuchang Plenum for a short time in late November and early December. In the civilian sphere, however, despite the renewed xiafang of 1959–1960, it was extremely difficult to keep the spirit of the Great Leap Forward alive. Amongst Western scholars, the case of Peng Dehuai has given rise to many and varied interpretations. Upon the publication of Nikita Khrushchev's speech on 21 July, it must have seemed to Mao Zedong that Khrushchev was echoing Peng Dehuai and was trying to push the Politburo conference in a conservative direction. The leniency accorded to Peng Dehuai was reflected in the use of the term 'right opportunist'.