Jiang Qing poster Mao's forth wife, Jiang Qing, was a major force behind the Cultural Revolution and a member of the Gang of Four. She is remembered as a power-hungry, narcissistic, and vengeful old women who was driven to extremism by the humiliation of Mao's endless womanizing.
Jiang is sometimes referred to as Madame Mao and has been variously described as the White-Boned Demon, and a Marxist-Leninist Eva Peron. Jiang once declared “Sex is engaging in the first rounds, but what really sustains attention in the long run is power.” Anchee Min, author the novel Becoming Madame Mao told the New York Times, "She's the concubine who gets too much power and destroys the dynasty. It's a very old story in China."
Qing was born in 1914 to the concubine of a small-town landowner. She joined a theatrical troupe at 14 and starred in several stage productions and movies produced in Shanghai. Qing was regarded as a second–rate actress when she met up with Mao in Yennan in 1937 after the Long March while he was still married to his third wife..
Books: Madame Mao by Ross Terril (Stanford); Becoming Madame Mao, a novel by Anchee Min.
Websites and Resources
Jiang Qing movie shot, 1934 Jiang Qing Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Madame Mao imow.org ; Lin Biao Marxist.org marxists.org ; CNN cnn.com/SPECIALS ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Zhou Enlai Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; CNN cnn.com/SPECIALS
Websites on Mao Zedong Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Chinese Mao.com chinesemao.com ; Mao Internet Library marx2mao.com ; Paul Noll Mao site paulnoll.com/China/Mao ; Spartacus Education spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk ; Mao Quotations art-bin.com ; Mao Video biography.com ; Marxist.org marxists.org ; Propaganda Paintings of Mao artchina.free.fr ; New York Times topics.nytimes.com ; Oxford Reference oxfordreference.com ; Mao Book: Mao: the Unknown Story (Knopf. 2005) by Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans, and her husband John Halliday, a British historian, portrays Mao as villain on the level of Hitler and Stalin. The book was read by U.S. President George Bush and embraced by the American right as a condemnation of Communism. It characterizes Mao as cruel, materialistic, self-centered and a leader who used terror with the aim of ruling the world. There is also a Mao biography by Jonathon Spence.
Jiang Qing when she
was a Shanghai actress People’s Republic of China : Timeline china-profile.com ; ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Cold War International Project wilsoncenter.org ; China Essay Series mtholyoke.edu ; Chaos Group of the University of Maryland a
Links in this Website: MAO, HIS EARLY LIFE, TACTICS AND REVOLUTION Factsanddetails.com/China ; LONG MARCH Factsanddetails.com/China ; COMMUNISTS TAKE OVER CHINA Factsanddetails.com/China ; EARLY COMMUNIST RULE UNDER MAO Factsanddetails.com/China ; LEADERSHIP AND PROPAGANDA UNDER MAO Factsanddetails.com/China ; MAO'S PRIVATE LIFE Factsanddetails.com/China ; JIANG QING, LIN BIAO, ZHOU ENLAI Factsanddetails.com/China ; DEATH, REPRESSION AND LIFE UNDER MAO Factsanddetails.com/China ; GREAT LEAP FORWARD Factsanddetails.com/China ; CULTURAL REVOLUTION Factsanddetails.com/China ; CULTURAL REVOLUTION --ENEMIES AND HORRORS Factsanddetails.com/China ; CULTURAL REVOLUTION--THE END Factsanddetails.com/China ; MAO MEETS NIXON Factsanddetails.com/China ; MAO DIES Factsanddetails.com/China ;
Jiang Qing and Mao
Mao and Jiang in 1946 Mao and Jiang Qing married in 1928. They had a daughter, Li Na. Despite the fact that she discovered her husband in bed on several occasions with other women Jiang was one of Mao's most loyal supporters. She once said she "was Mao's dog—whoever he told me to bite I bite." Jiang also claimed that most of Mao's post World War II writings were actually hers.
There was 20-year gap between Mao and his wife, Li wrote, "and their tastes and preferences were completely different. Mao read voraciously, Jiang was to impatient to read. Mao prided himself on his health and physical prowess. Jiang wallowed in her illness. Mao relished hot and spicy Hunan dishes. Jiang liked bland fish and vegetables and fancied herself a connoisseur of the Western food that Mao despised." One of Jiang's favorite pastime was watching Hollywood movies. She was particularly fond of Gone With the Wind. [Source: "The Private Life of Chairman Mao" by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]
Jiang Qing reportedly downed tranquilizers to calm her fear of noise. Once she got so high she fell off a toilet and broke her collarbone. Convinced at she was poisoned by Lin Biao she ordered her doctors to be interrogated in front of the ruling Politburo.
Jiang Qing and the Cultural Revolution. See Cultural Revolution and the Gang of Four
Jiang spent 13 years in prison. She committed suicide by hanging herself in her cell in May, 1991. Jiang’s operas have been banned since the 1970s. She was a major figure in the opera Nixon in China (1987) by John Adams and became the subject of her own opera Madame Mao by Bright Sheng.
Lin Biao and Mao Sometimes referred to as the evil genius of China or the Chinese Trotsky, Lin Biao accompanied Mao on the Long March and came up with idea of the Little Red Book and chose the quotations. As the minister of defense and head of the People's Liberation Army, he served Mao well as a brilliant military tactician, a suburb propagandist and skilled organizer of the masses. For many years he stood in the wings as Mao's handpicked successor.
Lin Biao was a twisted and neurotic man addicted to morphine and opium. He was terrified of the sun, light, water and wind. He rarely went outside and spent much of his time in a bomb shelter or a house with no windows. When Biao stayed in a hotel he insisted that curtains be pulled. In the 1940s he was sent to the Soviet Union for treatment for his morphine and opium addiction.
Mao and Lin Biao poster Lin’s fear of water was so extreme that even the sound of it gave him instant diarrhea. He never used a toilet—preferring a bedpan instead—and he didn't drink liquids (his wife dipped steamed buns in water and fed them to him). When he defecated he placed the pan on top of his bed and squatted over it with towel placed over his head.
"What struck me most when I first met Lin Biao," wrote Li, "was his army uniform. It was so tight it might have been glued on...I was [once] asked to visit him at his home. Lin was in bed, curled in the arms of his wife, Ye Qun, his head nestled against her bosom. He was crying, and Ye Qun was with him patting him and comforting him like a baby. [Source: "The Private Life of Chairman Mao" by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]
Lin Biao and the Plan to Assassinate Mao
Lin and his family In September 1971, Lin Biao hatched a plan to assassinate Mao and take over the Chinese government. Apparently he had grown tired of waiting for Mao to die and had become disillusioned with Mao's policies. When the plot was discovered Mao was ordered to go to the Great Hall of the People because it was easiest palace to protect him and Lin Biao hopped on a plane to flee the country.
"We soon learned that the plane had taken off in such haste," Mao's doctor, Dr. Li Zhisui wrote, "that it had not been properly fueled. Carrying at most a ton of gasoline, the plane could not go far. Moreover it had struck a fuel truck on taking off, and the right landing gear had fallen off...The next afternoon, a message came from the Chinese ambassador in Ulaan Baatar. A Chinese aircraft with nine people on board—one woman and eight men—had crashed in the Under Khan area of Outer Mongolia. Everyone on board hade been killed. Three days later...dental records had positively identified Lin Biao as one of the dead." [Source: "The Private Life of Chairman Mao" by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]
After the plane crashed Mao became depressed and stayed in bed for weeks. He became so weak and breathing was so difficult he could not even cough. Both Lin Biao and Jiang Qing have been airbrushed out of photographs at the Mao Museum.
Liu Shaoqi and ZhouEnlai in 1939 Zhou Enlai has been portrayed for decades as being the good Communist, who tried to stop the excesses of Maoism and was credited with opening China up to the West. Zhou wrote little, lacked charisma and was no theorist but the Chinese liked and trusted him because he was "polite, urbane and kind," "honest," and a good man" who "worked hard from the Chinese people." Henry Kissinger once said that Premier Zhou Enlai was the among the most impressive men he ever met.
Zhou was often portrayed as a good cop to Mao’s bad cop. When Mao argued that the inspiration of the masses was enough to pull off the Great Leap Forward, Zhou supported an incentive program. During the Cultural Revolution. Zhou was praised for restraining Mao and saving the Forbidden City from the Red Guards. Zhou was never criticized in public, but he often fell out of favor with the party and with Mao. Many were surprised that he survived the Cultural Revolution. Asked for his views on the French Revolution, Zhou Enlai famously replied that it was too early to say.
When the worst of the Cultural Revolution was over in 1969, Zhou set about redirecting the Chinese government and opening up China to the outside world. He ran the day-to-day affairs of China when Mao's health began to decline. He invited the American ping pong team to China in 1971, and was the one who met Nixon when he arrived in Beijing airport in 1972. He also help rehabilitate Deng Xiaoping.
Zhou Enlai’s Later Years, a book by Chinese Communist Party historian Gao Wenqian, challenged the depiction of Zhou as a great hero. The book, published in December 2003 and based on documents from Communist Party’s central Documents Office, portrays him as a backroom schemer and a puppet of Mao who was so devoted to the Chinese leader he signed the arrest warrants for his own brother and goddaughter. Rather than being a critic of the Cultural Revolution, the book asserts, Zhou was an enthusiastic participant who was responsible for sending hundreds of thousands to labor camps.
Zhou Enlai’s Life and Death
Zhou Enlai was born into a prominent family in 1898 in the town of Huai'an in Jiangsu Province, and many people believe that he was the real hero of the Communist Revolution not Mao. He studied in Japan from 1917 to 1919 and was one of the founding members of the Communist Party, a participant in the Long March, and was the premier of China from 1949 until his death in 1976. After the Communist takeover in 1949 he maintained a decades-log secret communications with Chiang Kai-Shek.
Mao’s doctor Dr. Li Zhisui was also critical of Zhou. He described Zhou as a "servile opportunist whose main object was survival...More than any other of China's top leaders, he had remained loyal to Mao—so faithful, in fact that Lin Biao had once characterized him as 'an obedient servant.’ I was present on Nov. 10, 1966, when he and Mao met to plan the seventh gathering of Red Guards in Tiananmen Square...As Zhou explained his plan to Mao, he spread a map on the floor, kneeling to show Mao the direction his motorcade would take. Mao stood, smoking a cigarette and seemed to take sardonic pleasure in watching Zhou crawl.” [Source: "The Private Life of Chairman Mao" by Dr. Li Zhisui, excerpts reprinted U.S. News and World Report, October 10, 1994]
Zhou En Lai and Nixon
In 1972 when Zhou was diagnosed as having bladder cancer, Mao denied him medical treatment and didn’t let doctors tell him he had the disease on the grounds that "cancer can not be cured and treatment only caused pain and mental anguish." Mao is believed to have done this to keep Zhou from outliving Mao and becoming leader of China. In 1974, Zhou was for all practical purposes retired from political life. He died in January 1976. Mao was reportedly so happy when he heard the news that Zhou had died he lit firecrackers.
After Zhou's death, thousands showed up to mourn him at Tiananmen Square during the Qingmang Festival, a traditional holiday that honors the dead. In an incident that resembled the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, the outpouring of grief grew into protest against the Gang of Four, and Mao ordered police to disperse the crowd. Hundreds were hurt and arrested and leaders were denounced for mounting a "counterrevolutionary insurrection." Mao died six months later. Although Zhou was regarded with great respect after the death of Mao he has now he had largely been forgotten.
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2012