One day in China. As the Gang of four lost the power struggle

Van Chunwang, Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chuntao, Jiang Qing. © /

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The beginning of The seventies in China was a period of decline of the era of Mao Zedong. Comrade Mao increasingly ill, was not appeared in public and shifted the state of the case to comrades in the party.

The country formally continued the so-called “Cultural revolution”, the peak of which, however, remained behind. And behind the Chinese leader was already developed serious struggle over who would succeed Mao.

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“Radicals” against “pragmatists”

Faced each other two groups: the “pragmatists” led by the Premier of the state Council of the PRC Zhou Enlai and the future “father of Chinese reforms” by Deng Xiaoping and “radicals”, nominated for the first roles in the midst of the “Cultural revolution”.

At the head of the radicals was four, which included: the wife of Mao Jiang Qing, the Vice-Chairman of the CPC Central Committee Wang Junwen, Secretary of the Shanghai Committee of the CPC and mayor of Shanghai Zhang Chuntao, as well as Chinese writer, member of the group for the Cultural revolution under the Central Committee of the CCP-Mao Yao Wenyuan.

The radicals insisted on the continuation of the course “Cultural revolution”. Mao Zedong tried to maintain the balance of power, not preferring any of the parties to the conflict.

Mao, initiated the establishment of relations with the United States, in favor of “pragmatics” to allow liberal changes in the economy. At the same time, “radicals” was allowed to carry on the campaign in the spirit of “Cultural revolution”, for example, the so-called “Criticism of Confucius and Lin Biao”.

Jiang Qing and Mao Zedong. Photo:

Latest opal Deng Xiaoping

In January 1976, the “pragmatists” have suffered a heavy loss: the deaths of Zhou Enlai. Broke out a fierce struggle for the post of Premier of the state Council, in which was culminated in the appointment of Hua Goffena, a politician who was considered a neutral figure.

“Radicals” during this period, launched a campaign against the chief of the remaining opponents: Deng Xiaoping. In the Central Chinese press has published lots of articles against Dan. In April 1976, in Beijing held mass demonstrations in memory of Zhou Angle. The spontaneous activity of the people caused no enthusiasm among the “radicals”. The demonstrators dispersed, Deng Xiaoping was accused of provoking the riots, then the “radicals” were behind his removal from all his posts.

This was not the first opal Dan, but this time she did not work long. 9 September 1976 Mao Zedong dying.

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“Unit 8341” solves all

The formal was considered a successor, Hua Guofeng, however, the leader of China was willing to become “radical” van Chunwang. At the memorial service on 18 September 1976 he spoke first.

The radicals controlled the party apparatus, emerged during the “Cultural revolution” a militia, but did not have serious influence in the army. Moreover, the generals were tuned to them very hostile.

The denouement came on 6 October 1976. Hua Guofeng, who understood that the “radicals” are not going to back down, decided to be proactive. During the convening in Beijing of the extraordinary Congress of the Politburo by the representatives of the “radicals” were arrested. The order was made an elite special forces PRC: “8341 Squad”. Its Creator and head of the Wang Dongxing was considered to be like-minded “radicals”, however, remained on the side of the Hua Giana.

The defeat group in the country lasted about two weeks, after which the charges against the leaders of the “radicals” appeared in print. There for them and stuck the name “Gang of four”.

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

  • © Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon

“I was a dog of Chairman Mao”

By 1980, Hua Guofeng actually lost real power: he was suspended Deng Xiaoping, finally put an end to the “Cultural revolution” and the beginning of the reform period. Pushed from power, Hua Guofeng, nevertheless, has not been arrested and maintains his position in the CPC Central Committee, although its effect on processes in the country was reduced to a minimum.

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In 1981 began the trial of the “Gang of four”. The wine they were put the crimes of the period of “Cultural revolution”: the illegal seizure and use of state and party authorities, the persecution of 750,000 people, 34 of which 375 died.

All four were found guilty. Jiang Qing and Zhang Chuntao was sentenced to death but later the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Van Chunwang was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Yao Wenyuan to 20 years in prison.

At trial, Jiang Qing said: “I was a dog of Chairman Mao. I bit whomever he asked me to bite”. Widow Mao was the only one of the four who decided to explain his actions the will of the leader.

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The fate of the defeated bandits

In 1991 Jiang Qing was released from prison for health reasons: doctors discovered she had cancer of the throat. Soon after liberation, while in the hospital, she killed herself.

A would-be successor to Mao van Chunwang became seriously ill in 1986 and was hospitalized. In 1992, he died of liver cancer.

Zhang Chuntao after serving two decades in prison, in 1998 was released from prison on bail for medical treatment. His stay at liberty was more long: he died in April 2005 in a hospital in Shanghai.


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Yao Wenyuan have served their twenty years, from beginning to end. Subject to pre-trial detention jail for it ended in 1996. He settled in Shanghai, where he began to write the book. Yao Wenyuan passed away the last of the “Gang of four”: he died in December 2005.

The term “Gang of four” has taken root in Chinese politics. “Little gang of four” called the environment of Hua Giana who lost a power struggle Deng Xiaoping. And the “New gang of four” was a group of Chinese party leaders convicted of corruption in 2012-2015.

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