Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
Teaser Image

Gang of Four

Four leaders of the Communist Party of China. The Gang of Four included Chinese leader Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing (leader of the group), and Shanghai-based Communist Party members Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao Wenyuan. Wang was a trade unionist and political officer in the People's Liberation Army, Zhang was a party official in Shanghai, while Yao was the party's propagandist. Acting on Mao's behest, these members of the Central Revolution Group were responsible for some of the worst outrages of the Cultural Revolution of 1966–1969 that brought the persecution of hundreds of thousands and the deaths of tens of thousands of Chinese.

China underwent turmoil following the deaths in 1976 of Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai in January and Mao that September. Demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing supposedly mourning Zhou also challenged the political ascendancy of the Gang of Four, who allegedly tried to seize power in order to institute ideological policies that recalled the Cultural Revolution. Hua Guofeng, who became premier in April 1976, ordered the arrest of the Gang of Four that October. Two other individuals, identified as having been part of the group—Kang Sheng and Xie Fuzhi—were no longer alive in 1976.

The four surviving members were tried and convicted of antiparty activities in October 1981. Jiang and Zhang were sentenced to death, Wang to life in prison, and Yao to twenty years in prison. Jiang is believed to have committed suicide in prison in 1991. Wang died in 1992, and Zhang and Yao died in 2005.

Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Daubier, Jean. A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Translated by Richard Seaver. New York: Vintage, 1974.; MacFarquhar, Roderick. The Origins of the Cultural Revolution. 2 vols. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983.; Robinson, Thomas, ed. The Cultural Revolution in China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.; Schoenhals, Michael, ed. China's Cultural Revolution, 1966–1969: Not a Dinner Party. Armonk, NY: Sharpe, 1996.
 

©2011 ABC-CLIO. All rights reserved.

  About the Author/Editor
  Introduction
  Essays
  A
  B
  C
  D
  E
  F
  G
  H
  I
  J
  K
  L
  M
  N
  O
  P
  Q
  R
  S
  T
  U
  V
  W
  Y
  Z
  Z
  Documents
  Images
ABC-cLIO Footer