Opposing Einstein and his relativity theory may look like a strange core business for a group banned as a xie jiao (“heterodox teaching”) or a “cult” in China. But in fact the Beijing Relativity Research Association (北京相对论研究联谊会) was, in its own way, a serious organization, with branches in 38 cities and provinces. It was banned on July 2, called a xie jiao by the CCP media, and all its provincial and local branches were raided by the police starting on June 30, with several members taken to local police stations.
Anti-relativity was an officially encouraged activity in Chairman Mao’s China, when Einstein’s theories were denounced as the epitome of “bourgeois science.” Mentioning that Lenin and Stalin sponsored Soviet scientists had also been critical of Einstein, some CCP members such as Zhou Yuhua, a professor of mathematics in a junior high school in Hunan, lobbied the Chinese Academy of Science to ban relativity as opposed to Marxist dialectical materialism in the 1960s.
They were initially ridiculed by the academic scientists, but gained the support of a circle close to Chairman Mao, including Mao’s son-in-law, Kong Linghua, and the Chairman’s former secretary and trusted adviser, Chen Boda. During the Cultural Revolution, mainline physicists were largely purged, and the anti-relativity movement was endorsed by the Red Guards. It was also seen as a weapon against Zhou Enlai, who was an admirer of Einstein and had tried to stop the movement.