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The meaning and origin of the expression: Let a thousand flowers bloom

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Let a thousand flowers bloom

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Meaning

Encourage many ideas from many sources.

Origin

let a thousand flowers bloomLet a thousand flowers bloom is a common misquotation of Chairman Mao Zedong's "Let a hundred flowers blossom". This slogan was used during the period of approximately six weeks in the summer of 1957 when the Chinese intelligentsia were invited to criticize the political system then obtaining in Communist China.

The full quotation, taken from a speech of Mao's in Peking in February 1957, is:

"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land."

It is sometimes suggested that the initiative was a deliberate attempt to flush out dissidents by encouraging them to show themselves as critical of the regime. Whether or not it was a deliberate trap isn't clear but it is the case that many of those who put forward views that were unwelcome to Mao were executed.