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
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.