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Paramilitary units of radical university and high-school students formed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Responding in 1966 to Mao Zedong's call to revitalize the revolutionary spirit of the Chinese Communist Party, they went so far as to attempt to purge the country of its pre-Communist culture. With a membership in the millions, they attacked and persecuted local party leaders, schoolteachers, and other intellectuals. By early 1967 they had overthrown party authorities in many localities. Internal strife ensued as different units argued over which among them best represented Maoism. In 1968 their disruption of industrial production and urban life led the government to redirect them to the countryside, where the movement gradually subsided.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Red Guards, visit Britannica.com.
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