Cover of Civil War in Guangxi by Andrew G. Walder
Civil War in Guangxi
The Cultural Revolution on China's Southern Periphery
Andrew G. Walder


March 2023
280 pages.
from $32.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503634671
Paperback ISBN: 9781503635227



Guangxi, a region on China's southern border with Vietnam, has a large population of ethnic minorities and a history of rebellion and intergroup conflict. In the summer of 1968, during the high tide of the Cultural Revolution, it became notorious as the site of the most severe and extensive violence observed anywhere in China during that period of upheaval. Several cities saw urban combat resembling civil war, while waves of mass killings in rural communities generated enormous death tolls. More than one hundred thousand died in a few short months.

These events have been chronicled in sensational accounts that include horrific descriptions of gruesome murders, sexual violence, and even cannibalism. Only recently have scholars tried to explain why Guangxi was so much more violent than other regions. With evidence from a vast collection of classified materials compiled during an investigation by the Chinese government in the 1980s, this book reconsiders explanations that draw parallels with ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, Bosnia, and other settings. It reveals mass killings as the byproduct of an intense top-down mobilization of rural militia against a stubborn factional insurgency, resembling brutal counterinsurgency campaigns in a variety of settings. Moving methodically through the evidence, Andrew Walder provides a groundbreaking new analysis of one the most shocking chapters of the Cultural Revolution.

About the author

Andrew G. Walder is the Denise O'Leary and Kenty Thiry Professor of Sociology and a Senior Fellow at the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. His most recent book is A Decade of Upheaval: The Cultural Revolution in Rural China (2021), co-authored with Dong Guoqiang.