Mao’s death on September 9th, 1976 pitched China into a bitter and uncertain struggle over succession.1 On the one side was the circle around Hua Guofeng, whom Mao had picked as First Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and made acting premier in February 1976 after the death of Zhou Enlai, China’s long-time premier. On the other stood the Gang of Four, including Mao’s widow, Jiang Qing, and her three recruits from Shanghai, who had climbed up to the top of the Chinese political hierarchy during the Cultural Revolution. In addition, Chinese politics was deeply divided along an ideological line. The above two rival groups were joined together on one side as beneficiaries and supporters of the Cultural Revolution. On the opposite side was a large and loose group of senior Party and military veterans around Marshal Ye Jianying, including Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yun, and Hu Yaobang, who were either reluctant partners in, or explicit opponents of, the Cultural Revolution. Just before his death, Mao was deeply worried that the transfer of power would be rocky and that the Cultural Revolution might be abandoned. Together with the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist government, he deemed it one of his most important and lasting achievements.2
KeywordsChinese Government Socialist Economy Chinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Chinese Economy
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