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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

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Jiang Qing movie shot, 1934
Jiang Qing Wikipedia article Wikipedia Lin Biao Marxist.org marxists.org ; CNN cnn.com/SPECIALS ; Zhou Enlai Wikipedia article Wikipedia

Good Websites and Sources of People’s Republic of China : Timeline china-profile.com ; ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Cold War International Project wilsoncenter.org ; China Essay Series mtholyoke.edu ; Everyday Life in Maoist China.org everydaylifeinmaoistchina.org; Wikipedia article on propaganda Wikipedia ; Cultural Revolution sino.uni-heidelberg.de; Communist China Posters Landsberger Posters ; More Posters chinaposters.org ; Yet more posters Ann Tompkins and Lincoln Cushing Collection

The Long March: Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Paul Noll site paulnoll.com ; Chinese Government Account of Events chinadaily.com; Long March Remembered china.org.cn ; Long March map china.org.cn Mao Zedong Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Chinese Mao.com chinesemao.com ; Mao Internet Library marx2mao.com ; Paul Noll Mao site paulnoll.com/China/Mao ; Mao Quotations art-bin.com; Marxist.org marxists.org ; Propaganda Paintings of Mao artchina.free.fr ; New York Times topics.nytimes.com; Communist Party History Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Illustrated History of Communist Party china.org.cn ; Books and Posters Landsberger Communist China Posters

Good Chinese History Websites: 1) Chaos Group of University of Maryland chaos.umd.edu/history/toc ; 2) WWW VL: History China vlib.iue.it/history/asia ; 3) Wikipedia article on the History of China Wikipedia 4) China Knowledge; 5) Gutenberg.org e-book gutenberg.org/files ; Links in this Website: Main China Page factsanddetails.com/china (Click History)

Books: Fanshen by William Hinton is the classic account of rural revolution during the communist-led civil war in the late 1940s. China Witness, Voices from a Silent Generation by Xinran (Pantheon Books, 2009) is collection of oral histories from Chinese who survived the Mao period. Lonng March books include The Long March by Edmund Jocelyn and Andree McEwen (2006) and The Long March by Sun Shuyun, based in accounts from 40 of 500 participants that were still alive in 2005. Mao; the Untold Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (Knopf. 2005). 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. Also check out: Mao's New World: Political Culture in the Early People's Republic by Chang-tai Hung (Cornell University Press, 2011) and The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr. Li Zhisui (1994). Other books: The Penguin History of Modern China by Jonathan Fenby 3) . Red Star Over China by Edgar Snow; 4) China: A New History by John K. Fairbank; 5) In Search of Modern China by Jonathan D. Spence; 6) Cambridge History of China multiple volumes (Cambridge University Press). You can help this site a little by ordering your Amazon books through this link: Amazon.com.

Jiang Qing and Mao

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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.

Jiang Qing Photo Sells for $64,000

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Jiang Qing when she
was a Shanghai actress
In November 2013, a photograph of Jiang Qing was sold at an auction for $64,000. The Wall Street Journal reported: “Taken more than half a century ago, a photograph by Jiang Qing, the last wife of former Communist leader Mao Zedong, sold at a Beijing auction on Saturday for 391,000 yuan (more than $64,180), almost 20 times its 20,000 yuan estimate. [Source: Wall Street Journal, China Real Time Blog, November 18, 2013 ^^]

“The photograph, titled “Lushan Fairy Cave,” was captured in 1961 and the black-and-white print depicts the mountain in the distance with branches of the tree appearing in the foreground. A temple is visible at the top of the mountain, which is surrounded by a clouds and contrasting light. Lushan held a special significance for Mao. Located in Jiangxi province along the Yangtze Rive, the town was one of his favorite summer vacation spots. After ousting the nationalist Kuomintang party from power in 1949, Mao took over a villa that had been occupied by his rival Chiang Kai-shek. ^^

“Lushan was the site of a major meeting for the Communist party leaders in 1959, during which Mao wrote the poem “Ascent of Lushan . Two years later, party leaders congregated there again for a meeting, when Jiang — sometimes known as Madame Mao — took her photograph. According to the firm that sold the lot, Huachen Auctions, Jiang learned photography from Shi Shaohua, a vice president of the Xinhua News Agency. Her photograph of Lushan impressed Mao so much that he penned a poem for her, nowadays often taught and read by Chinese students, which praises the dramatic landscape. The sale of the photo comes at a time when Mao is surging in popularity and increasingly referred to in political chatter. Chinese President Xi Jinping this year visited the Lushan villa that inspired the poems and photo, saying that the building should become a center for educating youth about patriotism and revolution. Huachen said both the buyer and seller were private collectors, and declined to give further information.” ^^

Lin Biao

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Lin Biao and Mao
Lin Biao was a founding father of the People’s Republic later condemned as a counter-revolutionary. Sometimes referred to as the evil genius of China or the Chinese Trotsky, he 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.

In April 1969, the Communist Party elevated Lin Biao as Mao's heir-apparent and "closest comrade in arms." The same year, a 15-year-old Xi Jinping, China's current leader, was sent to work in a tiny village in his father's home province of Shaanxi.[Source: Associated Press, June 2, 2016 \^/]

Tristan Shaw wrote in Listverse: “During the 1960s, the great general Lin Biao was one of Mao Tse-tung’s most trusted men. He was vice chairman of the Communist Party and Mao’s designated successor. While Lin survived the early purges of the Cultural Revolution unscathed, Mao became increasingly worried about his influence in the party. By 1971, Lin and his supporters had fallen out of favor with the Maoists, and Lin found himself isolated from the party leadership. [Source: Tristan Shaw, Listverse, June 24, 2016 *-*]

Lin Biao Neurotic Personality

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.

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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 Oust Mao in a Coup

There was an internal power struggle between Mao and Lin Biao during the Cultural Revolution because Lin’s power in the army as well as in the Party leadership had apparently become too strong in Mao’s view. In September 1971, Lin Biao reportedly 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.

Tristan Shaw wrote in Listverse: In 1971, “the Chinese government had uncovered a conspiracy by Lin Biao to launch a coup. The plot, code-named Project 571, also intended to assassinate Mao Tse-tung. According to the party’s account, the Lins attempted to escape China after the coup failed. [Source: Tristan Shaw, Listverse, June 24, 2016 *-*]

“Despite what the Communist Party maintains, there is still a great deal of controversy over Project 571. Critics believe that it was Lin Liguo, not his father, who was probably the head of the conspiracy. In fact, Lin Biao might have been entirely innocent. The cause of the plane crash has also been disputed. Some skeptics have suggested that the plane was sabotaged or shot down. Strangely, the plane’s pilot Pan Jingyin was posthumously given the honorary title of “Revolutionary Martyr.” *-*

Lin Biao’s Plane Crash and Its Aftermath

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Lin and his family
On September 13, 1971, Lin died in a plane crash in Mongolia along with close family members and aides while apparently fleeing China. Mao was left without a successor while his wife Jiang Qing exerted ever greater influence on culture and politics as leader of the "Gang of Four."\^/

Tristan Shaw wrote in Listverse: “On September 13, 1971, Lin, his wife, and his son Liguo boarded a plane and tried to flee to the Soviet Union. The plane’s fuel was low, and the Lins were in such a hurry that they didn’t bother to bring a copilot or navigator with them. As government officials followed the plane on radar, it passed over Mongolia and then crashed. There were no survivors, and while the nine corpses that were aboard were scorched, autopsies conducted by the Soviet Union were later able to identify the remains of the Lins. [Source: Tristan Shaw, Listverse, June 24, 2016 *-*]

"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]

The Lin Biao incident was a heavy blow to Mao. All of Lin’s associates in the military and the Party were subsequently arrested. 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. Lin Biao has been airbrushed out of photographs at the Mao Museum.

The immediate consequence was a steady erosion of the fundamentalist influence of the left-wing radicals. Lin Biao's closest supporters were purged systematically. Efforts to depoliticize and promote professionalism were intensified within the PLA. These were also accompanied by the rehabilitation of those persons who had been persecuted or fallen into disgrace in 1966-68. [Source: Library of Congress]

Lin Biao’s Daughter Calls for Historical Truth

In November 2014, Zhuang Pinghu wrote in the South China Morning Post, “The daughter of Lin Biao called for “more respect for historical facts” as she joined about 100 “second-generation reds” to mark a major military congress and battle. Lin Doudou made the call as the children of revolutionary figures gathered to mark the 85th anniversary of the Gutian Congress in Fujian province. It was in Gutian in 1929 that late leader Mao Zedong established the principle that the “party leads the army”. [Source: Zhuang Pinghu, South China Morning Post, November 7, 2014 ^*^]

“Many of those at the Beijing gathering came from military families, including Luo Dongjin, son of PLA founding general Luo Ronghuan, and Su Rongsheng, son of veteran commander Su Yu, according to an article carried by Xinhua. They also met to commemorate a brutal battle in Zhangzhou, Fujian, two years after Mao’s Gutian Congress, and issued an open letter to party leaders, urging them to set up a state-level martyrs commemoration centre and to complete construction of a Zhangzhou martyrs park by April 2016. ^*^

“Amid rumours of the possibility of a more open-minded approach to reports on Lin Biao, Lin Doudou urged greater speed in “collecting facts on historic events”. Independent historian Zhang Lifan said these kinds of commemorations were a way for participants to have a bigger say.“The second-generation reds feel they finally have ‘one of them’ in charge and they want their appeals heard, including for official recognition for what their fathers did,” Zhang said. “They want to commemorate what their fathers did for the founding of this county and … have more of their voices heard.” He also said that Xi would be keen to have more support from “second-generation reds” and the military, which he needs to consolidate power. “All in all, both Xi and the [second-generation] reds need each other.” ^*^

Zhou Enlai

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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. While Zhou charmed Kissinger and others, he could be both am erudite, smooth-talking negotiator and conniving plotter. It should also be remembered that he first made an impact in the late 1920s as the head of a communist hit squad.

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.

Image Sources: Poster images from Landsberger Posters http://www.iisg.nl/~landsberger/ and Nolls' websites http://www.paulnoll.com/China/index.html ; Wikicommons

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.

Last updated November 2016

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