Stinking Old Ninth

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Despite Chinese history's overall positive view of intellectuals, the Stinking Old Ninth (Chinese: 臭老九; pinyin: chòu lǎo jiǔ) is a Chinese dysphemism for intellectuals used at two major points.[1]

The term originated during the Yuan Dynasty where the Mongol conquerors identified ten "castes" of Chinese: bureaucrats, officials, Buddhist monks, Taoist priests, physicians, workers, hunters, prostitutes, (ninth) Confucian scholars and finally beggars, with only beggars at a status below the intellectuals.

During the Cultural Revolution the "Nine Black Categories" were: Landlords, rich farmers, anti-revolutionaries, bad influences, right-wingers, traitors, spies, capitalist roaders and (ninth) intellectuals. While often attributed to Mao Zedong, in 1977, Deng Xiaoping argued that it was the Gang of Four who came up with the phrase and that Mao himself saw intellectuals as having some value in society.[2]


  1. ^ Li, Kwok-sing (1995). A glossary of political terms of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press. pp. 27–28.
  2. ^ Deng, Xiaoping (1984). "Mao Zedong Thought Must be Correctly Understood as an Integral Whole". Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping, Volume 2. Beijing: Foreign Language Press.
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