The Sufan movement ( , against counterrevolutionaries) launched in 1955 was one instance of a recurring, politically charged atmosphere in official organisations and social life in the People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong. The term sufan is short for , and can roughly be taken as referring to a 'purge' of ideological heretics. Historically, the earliest Chinese communist Sufan had been intiated by Zhang Guotao in 1932.
On 1 July 1955, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee issued a "Directive on launching a struggle to cleanse out hidden counter-revolutionary elements" ( ). On 25 August 1955 it issued "The directive on the thorough purge and cleansing of hidden counter-revolutionaries" ( ). The targets of directives like these were individuals inside the communist party, the government bureaucracy, and military personnel. This was in contrast to the earlier Zhen Fan movement that had mainly targeted former Kuomintang personnel.
The targets of Sufan
The People's Daily, in an attempt to provide justification for the purge, reported that ten percent of Communist Party members were secret traitors and needed to be purged. This number appears to have been taken as a quota for the number of arrests that needed to occur.
There were three categories of Sufan targets:
- Ex-Kuomintang personnel, regardless of war captive or surrender.
- Anyone with landlord or wealthy families.
- Students and literati.
In many if not all parts of China, the Sufan movement ended in late 1956. Jean-Louis Margolin writes in The Black Book of Communism that one source indicates 81,000 arrests during the campaign (which he claims is rather modest), while another gives 770,000 deaths. He concludes that there is no way to determine which is accurate.