1 February 1917|
Heze, Shandong, China
|Died||21 April 2005
Beijing, People's Republic of China
|Death cause||Pancreatic cancer|
|Penalties||Capital punishment (defer 2 years for execution)→Life imprisonment→18 years in jail|
Zhang Chunqiao (Chinese: 张春桥; 1 February 1917 – 21 April 2005) was a prominent Chinese political theorist, writer, and politician. He came to the national spotlight during the late stages of the Cultural Revolution, and was a member of the Maoist radical group dubbed the "Gang of Four".
Born in Juye County, Shandong, Zhang worked as a writer in Shanghai in the 1930s and became closely associated with the city. After the Yan'an conference in 1938, he joined the Communist Party of China. With the creation of the People's Republic of China, he became a prominent journalist in Shanghai in charge of the Liberation Daily newspaper. He met Jiang Qing in Shanghai and helped to launch the Cultural Revolution.
Zhang first came to prominence as the result of his October 1958 Jiefang ("Liberation") magazine entitled “Destroy the Ideas of Bourgeois Legal Ownership.” Mao Zedong ordered the reproduction of the article in People’s Daily, and personally wrote an accompanying “Editor’s Note” giving the article his own mild approval. He was seen as one of Mao Zedong's full supporters as Mao became involved in an ideological struggle with rival leader Liu Shaoqi.
In February 1967, at the outset of the Cultural Revolution, Zhang organized the Shanghai Commune along with Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan, essentially overthrowing the local government and party organization and becoming chairman of the city's Revolutionary Committee, which combined both the former posts of mayor and party secretary, until the latter post was restored in 1971. Zhang also initially served as one of the leaders of the Cultural Revolution Group, in charge of carrying out the Cultural Revolution around China. He spent much of the Cultural Revolution shuttling between Beijing and Shanghai.
In April 1969 he joined the Politburo of the Communist Party of China and in 1973 he was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee, a council of top Communist leaders. In January 1975 Zhang became the second-ranked Vice Premier; Deng Xiaoping was the first-ranked Vice Premier at the time, but Deng was purged in 1976.
He was arrested along with the other members of the Gang of Four in October 1976, as part of a conspiracy by Ye Jianying and newly anointed party leader Hua Guofeng. Zhang was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, together with Jiang Qing, in 1984, but his sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, and in December 1997 the sentence was further reduced to eighteen years.
In 1998, Zhang was released from prison to undergo medical treatment. He then lived in obscurity in Shanghai for the remainder of his life. Zhang died from pancreatic cancer in April 2005.
Among those who identify as Maoist outside China, a large portion, perhaps a majority, still uphold the theories of Zhang Chunqiao. His most widely respected article is "On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship over the Bourgeoisie," in which he explained the bases and extent of the problem of the bourgeoisie in China and what would have to be done to prevent capitalist restoration.
- Chang, Parris H., Power and Policy in China, 2nd Edition, The Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park: 1978), p. 100, and n21-22.
as Mayor of Shanghai
|Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of Shanghai
|First-ranking Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
|Party political offices|
Vacant since 1967
|Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Committee
Vacant since 1970
|Director of the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army
Vacant until 1977