In the spring of 1966, a political dispute arose within the People’s Republic of China regarding the Beijing Opera play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office. The play depicts an honest official of the Ming Dynasty who reverses unjust land verdicts on behalf of peasants. Politically aware Chinese understood the Ming Dynasty Emperor to represent Mao, and the unjust land verdicts to represent the Great Leap Forward policies.

The decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution that ensued was a period of political and social chaos caused by Mao Zedong’s bid to use the Chinese masses to reassert his control over the Communist party.

Source: Wikipedia