|4th General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China|
January 1935 – 20 March 1943
|Preceded by||Bo Gu|
|Succeeded by||Mao Zedong (as chairman)|
|10th and 12th Head of Propaganda Department|
April 1931 – December 1934
|Preceded by||Shen Zemin|
|Succeeded by||Wu Liangping|
July 1937 – December 1942
|Preceded by||Wu Liangping|
|Succeeded by||Lu Dingyi|
|Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the Soviet Union|
April 1951 – January 1955
|Preceded by||Wang Jiaxiang|
|Succeeded by||Liu Xiao|
|Born||30 August 1900|
Nanhui, Shanghai, Qing Empire
|Died||1 July 1976 (aged 75)|
Beijing, People’s Republic of China
|Political party||Communist Party of China|
|Alma mater||University of California, Berkeley, Moscow Sun Yat-sen University|
Zhang Wentian (simplified Chinese: 张闻天; traditional Chinese: 張聞天; pinyin: Zhāng Wéntiān; Wade–Giles: Chang Wen-t'ien; 30 August 1900 – 1 July 1976), also known as Luo Fu (Chinese: 洛甫; Wade–Giles: Lo Fu), was a high-ranking leader of the Communist Party of China.
Born in Nanhui, he attended engineering school in Nanjing and spent a year at the University of California. He later joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1925 and was sent to study at Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow, from 1926 to 1930. He was a member of the group known as the 28 Bolsheviks, but switched to supporting Mao Zedong during the Long March. He was General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1935 to 1943, when the post was abolished. He remained a member of the Politburo, but ranked 12th of 13 in the 7th Politburo and reduced to Alternate Member in the 8th Politburo.
He was First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China from December 1954 to November 1960. He was a participant of the Long March, and later served as an ambassador to the Soviet Union from April 1951 to January 1955. At the Lushan Conference in 1959 he supported Peng Dehuai and lost power along with Peng. During the Cultural Revolution he was attacked as an ally of Peng and Liu Shaoqi; he was rehabilitated by Deng Xiaoping after Mao's death.
On August 30, 1900, Zhang Wentian was born in Deng San Village, Nanhui, Jiangsu Province. Zhang's ancestors migrated to Pudong from Qinghe County to avoid the war. His grandfather Zhang Xiangfu and father Zhang Qimei were farmers, and his mother Jin Tianhua had attended a private school. Zhang Wentian was the eldest son of the family. In 1915, he was admitted to the Jiangsu Provincial Fisheries School (Wusong Fisheries School). After studying for two years, he decided to transfer because he could not physically get used to the studying environment there. In 1917, he entered Nanjing Hohai Engineering College. At this point, Zhang Wentian became exposed to the New Youth, and started to lean toward the idea of revolution.
After the outbreak of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, Zhang Wentian participated in student movements and began to engage himself in literary creation and translation. In July 1920, Zhang Wentian and his classmate Shen Zemin went to study in Japan. They studied Japanese, philosophy and other texts in social sciences. In January 1921, Zhang Wentian returned to China, and became an editor for Zhonghua Book Company, working with colleagues Zuo Shunsheng, Tian Han, Li Da, He Shuheng. On January 5, 1922, Zhang Wentian published "China's Source of Chaos and Its Solution(中国底乱源及其解决)". The article stated: "We are so uneasy about this unreasonable society, but what methods should we use to transform it? What should it be transformed into? Nonresistance? Resistance? Anarchism? Socialism? Like the water flowing in the river, it constantly troubles me. However, life cannot continue without a decision. Then, naturally we cannot but go down the socialist road.” In August, Zhang Wentian went to study in University of California, Berkeley at his own expense. He took several courses, but was not formally enrolled.
Zhang Wentian returned home in January 1924, continuing his work as an editor for to Zhonghua Book Company. In October 1924, Zhang Wentian received an invitation from the Juvenile Chinese Society Chengdu branch and took up the job as an English teacher at the Second Chongqing Women's Normal School with colleagues Xiao Chunü and Yang Angong. In May 1925, Zhang Wentian left Sichuan and returned to Shanghai with Xiao Chunü to propagate revolutionary ideas. In June, Zhang Wentian was introduced by Shen Zemin and Dong Yixiang to join the Communist Party of China. He went to Moscow to study at Sun Yat-sen University in October.
While Zhang was studying and teaching in Moscow between 1925 and 1930, Nikolai Bukharin was still in power. Zhang learned about Bukarin's theory of allowing private rural economy through supply and marketing cooperatives, and this would later deeply influence Zhang's own policy perspectives. Zhang was much respected in the CCP circle for his thorough knowledge of Bukharin, in addition to Marxism and Leninism.
In early 1928, some members of the Chinese Communist Party branch at Sun Yat-sen University were dissatisfied with the work of the school branch office. The school branch office ignored the leadership of the party and sought to restructure the Communist Party branch. The power struggle between the two factions in Moscow reached its peak in the summer of 1928, and a ten-day meeting was held to discuss the workings of the school office. The secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Committee supported the school branch office. Despite the opposition from majority of students, under the support of minority factions including Bo Gu and others, the vote was passed to support the school branch office. After the meeting, the proud supporters of the school branch office were given the nickname" 28 Bolsheviks” by the oppositional faction, and Zhang Wentian was one of them.
On May 19th 1930, Zhang Wentian published "On the Two Lines of Struggle." The article pointed out that the Communist Party not only needs to oppose the right-wing within the party, but also needs to oppose the left-wing inside the party. This article was considered to be directed against Li Lisan and his extremism which later came to be known as "Li Lisan line".
The First Chinese Civil War (1927-1937)
In February 1931, Zhang Wentian returned to Shanghai, and soon served as the Minister of Propaganda Department of the CPC Central Committee. In September of the same year, the provisional central political bureau was established by Bo Gu, Zhang Wentian, Lu Futan, Li Zhusheng, Kang Sheng, Chen Yun, Huang Ping, Liu Shaoqi, Wang Yun Cheng and other nine; Bo Gu, Zhang Wentian, Lu Futan as the Standing Committee. After the outbreak of January 28 Incident in 1932, Zhang Wentian was disturbed by the class struggle mode of thinking, which denounced the Nineteenth Route Army generals as reactionary and counter-revolutionary "anti-Japanese warlords". He pointed out that the Party's strategy is “supporting the soldiers to struggle against Japan automatically and to oppose their superiors, using every opportunity to expose the deceptions of these officials” and making them to think that “they must kill their reactionary superiors in order to win the war.”
In December 1932, the Shanghai underground party was once again destroyed. Lu Futan and others in Politburo Standing Committee were arrested, resulting in Zhang Wentian, Chen Yun and others to almost get arrested. In January 1933, Zhang Wentian moved to the Central Soviet Area with the temporary central government, and served as the Minister of the Central Bureau of the Soviet Union, and as the chairman of Ruijin Workers and Peasants Democratic Government.
At that time, the Nationalist Government was preparing for the Fourth Encirclement Campaign against the Jiangxi Soviet. Chiang Kai-shek personally commanded the attack. Bo Gu held a meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, arguing that they should stick to their positions. This proposal has been opposed by the Communist Party of China Fujian Provincial Party Secretary Luo Ming, who said that they should continue the guerrilla warfare since people do not have the strength to resist long-term warfare. Luo Ming pointed out straightforwardly that the resolution of the Central Bureau was an "empty preaching". Bo Gu was enraged and wrote “The Central Bureau’s position about Decisions from Fujian Provincial Committee,” in which he accused Luo Ming of "opportunism" (Luo Ming doctrine), followed by the launching of anti-Luo Ming campaign. Many grassroots and front-line cadres involved were dismissed from their posts.
On February 18, 1933, Zhang Wentian published an article entitled "What is the opportunist line of Comrade Luo Ming" published in the Struggle, a bulletin for the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Since then, Bo Gu criticized “Jiangxi Luoming line,” and Zhang Wentian also published "Luo Ming line in Jiangxi," "Fire toward the Opportunism of the Right-wing" and other articles to support Bo Gu's action. People including Zhang Dingcheng, Liu Xiao, Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong, Xie Weijun, and He Shushing were involved in this movement.
In January 1934, Zhang Wentian was elected member of the Central Political Bureau and secretary of the Central Committee of the Fifth Plenary Session of the Sixth CPC Central Committee. In February, he was elected as the Chairman of Central Government People's Committee. After the fall of Guangchang, Zhang Wentian criticized the military command of Bo Gu, Li De and others at the first meeting of the Central Military Commission, and began to be estranged from them. In August 1934, the authorities of the Central Soviet area stationed at Shazhou Dam was bombed by the Kuomintang, and they were forced to relocate to Ruijin. Since then, Zhang Wentian began to communicate with Mao Zedong and became close to him.
In October 1934, Zhang Wentian participated in the Long March with Mao Zedong and Wang Jiaxiang. Three people communicated many times during the march on the way and formed an alliance against Bo Gu and Li De. On January 15, 1935, the First Red Army occupied Zunyi, Guizhou during the Long March, and held a meeting. At the meeting, Bo Gu took the lead in making a report to discuss the errors of military command during the fifth anti-encirclement campaign, but mainly asserted that the difficulties were unavoidable due to circumstances. Zhou Enlai then made a deputy report, saying that it was the tactical errors made by the military command, and admitted responsibility. It was followed by Zhang Wentian's report opposing the Central Committee's military strategy that solely focused on defense. Then, Mao Zedong made a long speech, pointing out that the cause of serious loss and defeat in the fifth anti-encirclement campaign was due to the military's simple defense line, and this was manifest in the adventurism during the attack, the conservatism during the defense, and conservatism during the sortie. Mao Zedong had planned this outline in advance with Wang Jiaxiang and Zhang Wentian. Immediately, Wang Jiaxiang, Zhu De, Liu Shaoqi expressed agreement. The meeting was held for three days, and the final decision was to dismiss the leadership of Bo Gu, Li De, and Zhou Enlai. Mao Zedong was co-opted onto the standing committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau by military commanders Zhu De and Zhou Enlai, and was also restored to the position as the military commander of the Red Army.
On February 5, the Red Army arrived in Bijie, and held a Politburo meeting here. Zhang Wentian replaced Bo Gu as the CPC Central Committee General Secretary. On May 12, Zhang Wentian presided over the Huili Meeting. After the First and Fourth Red Army joined forces in June 1935, Zhang Wentian supported Mao Zedong's decision to go up north and opposed Zhang Guotao's plan to go south.
In 1936, the Red Army carried out the eastern and western expedition. During this period, Zhang Wentian, Mao Zedong, and Zhou Enlai cooperated to push the anti-Japanese national united front into the CCP's focus. After the outbreak of Xian Incident in December, Zhang Wentian held a meeting to deal with the incident. At this meeting, Mao Zedong proposed to “put Chiang on trial”, “get rid of Chiang”, and Zhang Wentian advocated “not to take the opposite policy with Nanjing, not to organize opposition against Nanjing”, “to strive to gain legitimacy of the Nanjing government and join forces with anti-Chiang troops”. In the end, under the pressure from Stalin, the Xian Incident was peacefully resolved. In January 1937, Zhang Wentian secretly went to Xian to discuss matters with Zhou Enlai, Bo Gu and others.
Second Sino-Japanese War
After the full-scale Sino-Japanese War broke out in China in August 1937, the CPC Central Committee held a Political Bureau meeting in Fengjia Village, Luochuan, Shaanxi Province. Zhang Wentian presided over the meeting and made an analytic report on the political situation both at home and abroad. He put forward a proposal of ten major of resistance against Japan and rejected national defeatism.
By the end of November 1937, Wang Ming, Chen Yun and Kang Sheng returned to Yan’an from Moscow. Zhang Wentian presided over the December Politburo meeting and made a report on "The Current Political Situation and the Task of the Party." At the meeting, the Central Committee decided that Zhang Wentian should manage the Party, Mao Zedong manage the army, Wang Ming manage the United Front, forming a triumvirate layout. In 1938, Zhang Wentian opposed the marriage of Mao Zedong and Jiang Qing.
After the 6th Plenary Session of the 6th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Zhang Wentian withdrew from the position of supreme leader and went on to being responsible for propaganda work and cadre education as the Minister of the CPC Central Committee and Central Propaganda Department. In 1941, Zhang Wentian responded to Mao's call and went to rural areas in northern Shaanxi and northwestern Shanxi for more than a year for a rural survey and wrote "Return to the Start". In 1941, the CCP was facing embargo from the Nationalist Party and offensive attacks by the Japanese army. The economy was on the verge of collapse, making CCP highly unpopular among peasants. Zhang Wentian was sent down to Shanxi in order to investigate how to increase the production of agricultural output and improve peasant's livelihood. During the investigation, Zhang found out about the key role of rich peasants in rural prosperity. Zhang proposed providing economic incentives to boost commerce and new capitalism, but his report was suppressed as it went directly against Mao Zedong's plan for organizing collective farms and mutual aid teams. In February 1942, Mao Zedong launched the Yan'an Rectification Movement, and pushed for Sinification of Marxism and study of Mao Zedong thought. When Zhang Wentian returned to Yan'an, he became a target for Yan'an Rectification Movement, and was forced to repeatedly criticize himself. He could not apply his knowledge gained from the investigation to solve economic problems. In June 1945, at the Seventh Congress of the CCP in Yanan, he was elected a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, and served as director of the Central Political Research Office.
The Second Chinese Civil War (1946-1949)
After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, Zhang Wentian volunteered to go to the northeast for local work. After regaining trust from Mao Zedong after continuous self-criticisms, Zhang was sent to Hejiang province in northeast China to take charge of it. On October 22, 1945, Zhang Wentian and Gao Gang, Li Fuchun, Wang Heshou, Kai Feng, Chen Guang and Zhu Rui took a plane from the U.S. mediation team to Handan, and arrived in Shenyang on November 22. Afterwards, Zhang Wentian was sent to North Manchuria. Under the auspices of Chen Yun, he participated in drafting a telegram and sending it to the Central Committee jointly with Chen Yun and Gao Gang. Zhang suggested that the CCP's strategic principle in northeast should be to disperse the armed forces and cadres into the vast rural areas and small to medium-sized cities as soon as possible, and establish a consolidated base instead of concentrating too much attention on big cities. In December, Zhang Wentian served as secretary of the CPC Hejiang Provincial Party Committee. Because of the large number of bandits in Hejiang Province at the time, Zhang Wentian first conducted a social investigation in Ning'an County.
In Hejiang, he has presided over the work of building political power in Hejiang and suppressing bandits and land reform, and has also served as political commissar of Hejiang Military Region. Between 1947 and 1948, radical land reforms swept northeast China, followed by collective-style mutual aid teams. However, these aid teams soon collapsed, creating chaos in the rural areas. There was a "leftist" tendency in the land reform movement and other excessive violence taking place. In response, Zhang Wentian ordered newspapers in Hejiang area not to reproduce the experience of violent land reform, and to protect Hejiang's commerce and industry, and Zhang drafted the "Directive on the Protection of Business and Industry in Distinguishing the Land. Zhang strongly objected to forceful collectivization and proposed to the Party that the emphasis should be in encouraging rural production, rather than class struggle.
In May 1948, Zhang Wentian served as a minister of the Standing Committee and Organization Department of the Northeast Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy director of the Northeast Financial and Economic Committee. During this period, Zhang Wentian drafted the "Outline on the Basic Principles of Economic Structure and Economic Development in Northeast China" and put forward the idea of "five kinds of economic components". The Outline was affirmed by Mao Zedong and was forwarded to the whole party as a guideline for the economic development of all the liberated areas. In April, he took up the job as the secretary of Liaodong Provincial Party Committee, Liaodong Military District Political Committee to organize the increase of production and to improve people's lives.
After the Founding of the PRC
Since earlier periods of the CCP, Mao Zedong's emphasis on collective farms as the correct form of rural socialism differed from Liu Shaoqi and Zhang Wentian's line of supporting the supply and marketing cooperative(SMCs). Gao Gang was a prominent leftist and a staunch supporter of Stalin's and Mao's model of bolstering collectivization. Zhang Wentian clashed with Gao Gang when Zhang strongly criticized the idea of organizing all peasants into mutual aid teams. Soon afterwards, the CCP suddenly appointed Zhang as a Chinese delegate to the United Nation without consulting him. Zhang reluctantly accepted the post and repeatedly made pleas to return to his job in the economic sector, but they were ignored. In April 1951, Zhang Wentian was appointed as Ambassador of China to the Soviet Union. Zhang Wentian paid attention to studying international issues and actively submitted the analysis and policy proposals to the Central Government. For instance, the report on the first armistice negotiations in the Korean War was put forward in 1951, and was valued by the Central Government. In 1953, during his conversation with Wu Lengxi of Xinhua news agency, Zhang talked about the weakness and failures of the Soviet collectivization system and warned that China should not blindly copy the Soviet model. In January 1955, Zhang Wentian returned to China and was appointed the first deputy minister of foreign affairs of the People's Republic of China to assist Zhou Enlai in diplomatic affairs. In September 1956, the 8th National Congress of the Communist Party of China elected Zhang Wentian as alternate member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.
In 1959, Zhang Wentian attended the Lushan Meeting. On July 14, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission and Vice Minister of the State Council and Minister of National Defense Peng Dehuai wrote a letter to Chairman Mao Zedong. In the letter, he first affirmed that the principles of the Great Leap forward was correct. However, Peng subsequently pointed out the problems of the Great Leap Forward: "Now looking back, the basic development in 1958 was overly rapid and a bit too much. In the year 1959, not only the pace could not be slowed down, nor was it properly controlled, and continuing the Great Leap Forward did not lead to immediate regulation of imbalances, but only added new temporary difficulties.” He also pointed out that the lack of democracy and personal worship are the root causes of all these evils." On July 19, Huang Kecheng, chief advisor of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, and Zhou Xiaozhou, the first secretary of the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee, spoke in support of Peng Dehuai. On July 21, Zhang Wentian made a speech for three hours and used more precise theoretical terms to criticize the leftist mistakes of the Great Leap Forward and the People's commune. He advocated the promotion of democracy within the party and supported Peng Dehuai. Subsequently, Mao Zedong, who originally advocated "rectification of the left," turned to criticize the "Peng Dehuai Anti-Party Group". Zhang Wentian was classified by Mao Zedong as a "Right opportunist" element and a member of “Peng Dehuai Anti-Party Group”. After the meeting, "Anti-Rightist Movement" was launched again. Zhang Wentian was further criticized at the National Foreign Affairs Conference and was removed from the post of deputy minister of foreign affairs.
On November 12, 1960, he took up the job as a researcher for the Institute of Economics at Department of Philosophy and Social Sciences in Chinese Academy of Sciences, and dealt with the research on socialist economic development theories. He went to Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Shanghai, and Hunan to conduct a social survey. After the survey was over, he wrote a report “Suggestions on Market Trade”. During the Eighth Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee, Mao Zedong again criticized Peng Dehuai, Zhang Wentian, Xi Zhongxun and others. After the meeting, Zhang Wentian was deprived of the right to participate in all Central Committee's meetings and read any document from the Central Government. Afterwards, Zhang Wentian again put forward "A Duality of Production Relations Theory". On October 1, Zhang Wentian took part in the celebration of the National Day and went up to the Tiananmen Gate Tower with Mao Zedong to have a conversation.
During the Cultural Revolution, Zhang Wentian was persecuted and received criticism with Peng Dehuai. From May 17, 1968, Zhang Wentian was under house arrest in his residence. During the period, Zhang Wentian and his wife Liu Ying were separated. In order to obtain material unfavorable to Liu Shaoqi, Kang Sheng asked Zhang Wentian to testify on Liu Shaoqi's charge on “61 Traitors Group”, but Zhang Wentian did not give in to the pressure. On October 24, 1969, Zhang Wentian was released to Zhaoqing, Guangdong with his family.
Zhang Wentian started to write a series of theoretical essays that were later referred to as the "Zhaoqing Manuscript." He criticized the ultra-leftist line and errors of the Cultural Revolution and elaborated on the views on the basic issues of China's socialist construction. In his writing, Zhang Wentian wrote that the foremost task of socialist society is to develop productive forces, and “it is absurd to curse the principle of struggle for the material interests of the people as a revisionist, that is to say, unacceptable confusion and deceit!” About the Cultural Revolution, he thought that exaggerating the internal contradictions among the people as the contradiction between the enemy and myself "caused great harm to the Party." It poses a serious disruption to the Party “to have the comrades who hold different opinions are framed as ‘agents of the bourgeoisie within the party,’ because it further confuses the enemy and ourselves.” In May 1972, the CPC Central Committee decided to restore the wages of Zhang Wentian and his wife. Since then, Zhang Wentian repeatedly asked to return to Beijing but was not approved. In August 1975, Zhang Wentian moved to Wuxi.
On July 1, 1976, Zhang Wentian died in Wuxi, Jiangsu, due to a heart disease at the age of 76. On August 25, 1979, the CPC Central Committee held a memorial service to Zhang Wentian in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In the mainstream historiography of the Communist Party of China, he is regarded as the leader of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China who made a significant contribution to the CCP. During the Yan’an period, Mao Zedong once remarked about Central Soviet area period’s Zhang Wentian: "Zhang Wentian was an influential figure in the Central Soviet Area, not only because of his status and position, but also for his own qualities." On 25 August 1979, during the memorial held for Zhang Wentian by the CPC Central Committee in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Deng Xiaoping wrote a eulogy stating that Zhang Wentian was "an outstanding Party member and an important leader of our party for a fairly long period of time." The next day People's Daily published a news that Zhang Wentian was "an outstanding party member of the Chinese Communist Party and an older generation of proletarian revolutionaries." Throughout his political career, he made criticism whenever overt leftist tendency arose within the Party. Even though his adherence to Bukharin's interpretation of Lenin's "Cooperative Plan" set himself against Mao Zedong, who followed Stalin's way of collectivization, and caused constant fluctuations in terms of his political career, Zhang never seized to speak up. He also devoted his entire life studying the economic issues. Jiang Zemin said in his letter to Zhang Wentian's wife Liu Ying in August 1990: "With his firm unwavering belief in communism, his generous heart as a politician and the cautious demeanor as a scholar, he adhered to the truth for the benefit of the people. His noble character to correct the errors, he always deserves to be learned by all of us in his practical, practical, humble, prudent and simple style of work."
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| Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Chinese Soviet Republic
|Chinese Soviet Republic disbanded|
|Party political offices|
| Head of the CPC Central Propaganda Department
| General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
Abolished until 1954
| Head of the CPC Central Propaganda Department