Power Struggle of Mao

  • The struggle for control of China begin in 1971 with the death of Lin Biao and the emergence of the Gang of Four.

  • Mao’s wife Jiang Qing became increasingly influential as Mao grew sicker.

  • The Gang of Four wished to revert to radical Communism.

  • The pragmatists led by Deng Xiaoping wanted to capitalize and modernize China enough to gain international influence.

  • In the middle was a man named Hua Guofeng.

  • Jiang Qing’s increasing influence in the cultural affairs of China caused worries amongst some Party officials that she was controlling Mao.

  • In 1966, when the new Revolutionary Committee was formed, Jiang Qing found herself in a position of high power along with several of her allies and protégés: The Gang of Four.

  • The Gang of Four was chiefly responsible for the violent Cultural Revolution in the late ‘60s by the Red Guards. In 1969, Jiang became a member of the Politburo, the highest tier of government.

  • When Lin died, the Gang of Four condemned numerous unrelated philosophies, and the moderate views of Deng Xiaoping.

  • Mao grew worried that he was being controlled by Jiang. He distanced himself from her, but used the Gang of Four to keep other factions in line.

  • Zhou and Deng suggested more moderate policies. The death of Zhou in 1976 weakened Deng’s position, yet he was spared further political exile.

  • After Zhou died, the focus became on Mao’s successor. The Gang of Four supported Zhang. Zhou had supported Deng. Mao chose Hua Guofeng, a moderate between both factions.

  • At the Qingming festival of 1976, a mass outpour of people went to Tiananmen square to mourn Zhou and show support for Deng. Hua tried to remove the wreaths a day after the festival, and sparked a mass protest. At Mao’s suggestion, the protest was violently crushed.

  • Deng was blamed for the protest, and fled to Canton under the protection of a general.

  • When Mao died in 1976, the Gang of Four attempted to gain power through their cultural influence. Hua, however, had support of the Politburo and military.

  • Losing support, the Gang attempted a coup, yet failed to win over enough support, inadvertently letting slip of their plans to Hua.