Leaders of the People's Republic of China

Mao Zedong

 

The People's Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949. Mao Zedong governed the country as Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) until his death in 1976. Politically a Marxist-Leninist, his theoretical contribution to the ideology along with his military strategies and brand of policies are collectively known as Maoism.

 

Mao and other Communist leaders set out to reshape Chinese society. Industry came under state ownership and China's farmers began to be organized into collectives. The Chinese initially received significant help from the Soviet Union.

 

In 1958, in an attempt to introduce a more Chinese form of communism, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward. This aimed at mass mobilization of labor to improve agricultural and industrial production.

 

In 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, aiming to purge the country of impure elements and revive the revolutionary spirit.

 

Mao appeared victorious, but his health was deteriorating. His later years saw attempts to build bridges with the United States, Japan and Europe. In 1972, US President Richard Nixon visited China and met Mao.

 

Mao died in 1976.

 

Mao Zedong declares the founding of the modern People's Republic of China, October 1, 1949.

 

The Gang of Four

 

The Gang of Four was the name given to a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The members consisted of Mao Zedong's last wife Jiang Qing, the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.

 

The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the CPC through the latter stage of the Cultural Revolution.

 

The Gang of Four, together with disgraced Communist general Lin Biao, were labeled the two major "counter-revolutionary forces" of the Cultural Revolution and officially blamed by the Chinese government for the worst excesses of the societal chaos that ensued during the ten years of turmoil. Their downfall in a coup d'état on October 6, 1976, a mere month after Mao's death, brought about major celebrations on the streets of Beijing and marked the end of a turbulent political era in China.

The Gang of Four at their trial in 1981


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