Hongwen Wang

Hongwen Wang

Chinese politician
Date of Birth: 01.1935Год
Country: China

Biography of Wang Hongwen

Wang Hongwen was a Chinese political figure and one of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Cultural Revolution. He was born in January 1935 in a village near the city of Changchun in the Jilin province of Manchuria. The exact date and year of his birth are unknown. At that time, Manchuria, which was occupied by Japan, had been turned into a puppet state called "Manchukuo," and Wang Hongwen's family sympathized with the CCP, which was fighting against the Japanese occupation. In his childhood, Wang Hongwen joined the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). In 1950, at the age of only 15, he went to fight in Korea as part of the volunteer forces of Marshal Peng Dehuai, worked as a field messenger, and joined the CCP. After demobilization, he worked at the 17th cotton mill in Shanghai and, as a person with military experience, was sent to work in the factory security service. At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, he became interested in trade union activities and soon showed great organizational and oratorical abilities. In June 1966, after the first issue of the "big-character poster" of the Cultural Revolution, Wang Hongwen and six of his friends wrote a big-character poster accusing the factory's leadership of "following the capitalist path." However, the local party organizations did not agree with the criticism of those "in power and following the capitalist path" and sent one of the "work teams" created on the orders of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping to the 17th textile factory. Wang Hongwen's actions were considered "counterrevolutionary." He was saved from punishment by Jiang Qing's intervention. However, the work teams were soon disbanded, and Wang Hongwen became the recognized leader of the Shanghai rebel faction. On the orders of Jiang Qing, the author of the first big-character poster, Ne Yuanzhi, was sent to Shanghai to help him. On October 6th, Wang Hongwen and his supporters formed the "Shanghai Revolutionary Rebel Headquarters" and called for "attacks on the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee." In November 1966, Wang Hongwen's followers lay on the railway tracks at Anting Station on the outskirts of Shanghai and disrupted railway communication for 30 hours, demanding a train to Beijing to meet with Mao. When the demand was met, Wang Hongwen arrived in Beijing, where he was received by members of the Cultural Revolution Group of the CCP Central Committee - Chen Boda, Jiang Qing, and Zhang Chunqiao. After that, Wang Hongwen was invited to meet Mao Zedong and Lin Biao, who promised him support and sent him back to Shanghai. However, on November 26th, Shanghai workers, dissatisfied with the chaos created by Wang Hongwen's rebels, formed "Red Guard" detachments and started a confrontation with them. On November 28th, Shanghai was engulfed in street battles in which 91 people were killed or wounded. However, the rebels failed to suppress the "Red Guard" detachments, which numbered 400,000 people. Within a month, Shanghai workers stopped working, leaving the city without electricity and water. The Shanghai port ceased to operate, transportation stopped, and railway transportation was suspended. On January 4th, 1967, Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan urgently went to Shanghai to help Wang Hongwen. On January 6th, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao Wenyuan organized a million-person rally under the slogans of overthrowing the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee. During the broadcast of the rally on television, they announced the removal of the first secretary of the Municipal Party Committee, Chen Pixian, and the mayor of the city, Cao Diyu, and called for the "complete destruction" of the party committee. At the same time, PLA units guarded banks and government buildings, while the rebels seized radio stations and newspaper offices. On January 9th, with the support of the army, the rebels began to storm the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, which lasted for five days. Despite the fact that military personnel led by Admiral Tao Yun stood on the side of the party committee, the power in the city passed into the hands of the rebels. The seizure of power in Shanghai was called the "January Revolution." On February 5th, 1967, at 2:00 pm, it was announced that power in Shanghai had transferred to the Shanghai Commune. In a widely distributed manifesto, it was stated that the Shanghai Commune was elected on the same principles as the Paris Commune of 1871 and would continue its traditions. However, on February 25th, the Shanghai Commune, which did not receive support from Mao Zedong, was replaced by the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee. Wang Hongwen became a member, then vice chairman of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee, and later its head. For a while, it seemed that his career would be limited to the provincial level, but in April 1969, Wang Hongwen was elected to the Presidium of the 9th CCP Congress as a "worker leader of the new formation." At the congress, he was elected a member of the CCP Central Committee - Mao Zedong believed that Wang Hongwen's promotion would attract more young people to the Cultural Revolution. In August 1970, at the Lushan Plenum of the Central Committee, he was the first to speak out against Lin Biao and Chen Boda, thereby strengthening his position. In 1971, he became the secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the CCP, and in September 1972, Jiang Qing persuaded Mao Zedong to send Wang Hongwen to work in the CCP Central Committee. In May 1973, Jiang Qing also persuaded Mao Zedong to include Wang Hongwen in the work of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee (U De and Hua Guofeng were also allowed to work at the same time). On July 4th of the same year, Wang Hongwen, together with Zhang Chunqiao, requested a meeting with Mao Zedong and criticized Zhou Enlai. Mao Zedong sided with them during the conversation. However, no organizational changes followed. At the opening of the 10th CCP Congress on August 24th, 1973, Mao Zedong honored Wang Hongwen by seating him to his right, while Zhou Enlai was seated to his left. At the Congress, Wang Hongwen delivered a report on "Changes in the CCP Constitution." He confirmed the course of continuing the Cultural Revolution and quoted Mao Zedong's letter to Jiang Qing - "Every seven to eight years (approximately!), monsters and demons will emerge into the light." On August 28th, 1973, at the 10th CCP Congress, he was elected one of the five Vice Chairmen of the CCP Central Committee, a member of the CCP Central Committee's Politburo, and the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the CCP Central Committee. He was a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC). Wang Hongwen was one of the creators and leaders of the popular militia "minbing," which effectively controlled the country's life, was as numerous as the army, and did not obey the military command. The "minbing" patrolled the streets of cities and towns in a semi-military form, maintained public order, checked the planned consumption of food in families, and even the hairstyles in barbershops. They were considered the real support not only for Mao Zedong but also for the "radical" factions of the Cultural Revolution - Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Yao Wenyuan, and others. In September 1973, during a conversation with French President Georges Pompidou, Mao Zedong unexpectedly mentioned Wang Hongwen. Mao pointed at him and said, "This is Wang Hongwen, everyone talks about him in all countries. During the war in Korea, he was in the army of the Chinese People's Volunteers and later became a worker in Shanghai. In 1970, at the Lushan Plenum of the CCP Central Committee, Wang Hongwen was the first to expose the intrigues of Lin Biao...". Wang Hongwen came to be seen as a possible successor to Mao Zedong, but he himself behaved cautiously during those years and did not play a secondary role in the party. Many believed that Wang Hongwen could not be a successor due to his age and lack of education, and that he was merely a decorative figure. Moreover, it was said that he behaved imperfectly in his personal life. However, Wang Hongwen had real power as Mao's deputy and a person capable of controlling the "minbing" militia. On December 28th, 1973, Mao Zedong formally appointed Wang Hongwen as his successor. After Premier Zhou Enlai was placed in a hospital on July 1st, 1974, Mao Zedong also entrusted Wang Hongwen with the daily work of the party, appointing Deng Xiaoping as Deputy Premier of the State Council of the PRC in contrast to him. On the evening of December 17th, the Jiang Qing held a secret meeting of her supporters, at which it was decided to send Wang Hongwen to Mao to inform him that Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping "had taken the path of Lin Biao" and were planning to overthrow him. Wang Hongwen carried out this task, but Mao scolded him, ordered him to "reconcile with Comrade Xiaoping," and warned him against an alliance with Jiang Qing. In September 1975, Wang Hongwen visited Shanghai and said, "I am worried that the army is not in our hands. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a headquarters to guide the people's militia, merge it with the Department of Arms of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee, and this is not a formal issue but a matter of strategic importance. We, along with Zhang Chunqiao, created the Shanghai militia, and you must organize this matter under my leadership. At present, you must be mentally prepared. When they decide to strike, it will be a test and will show whether we can withstand their blow." In January 1976, after the death of Zhou Enlai, Wang Hongwen sought to become the Premier of the State Council of the PRC, but another group of party leaders saw Deng Xiaoping as the candidate. There is no accurate information on whether Wang Hongwen's allies supported his aspirations - it is believed that the candidates for Zhou Enlai's position included Jiang Qing and, in particular, Zhang Chunqiao. The fierce struggle between the factions ended with the resignation and persecution of Deng Xiaoping, whom Wang Hongwen actively opposed. However, the compromise candidate - Hua Guofeng - was appointed as the Premier of the State Council and the first Deputy Chairman of the CCP Central Committee. On September 9th, 1976, when Mao Zedong died, Wang Hongwen informed the country on behalf of the CCP Central Committee that all important matters should be reported to him personally. In the published list of the Mao Zedong Funeral Organizing Commission on September 11th, Wang Hongwen's name came second after Hua Guofeng and was highlighted in a special font. On September 18th, 1976, he opened the mourning rally in memory of Mao on Tiananmen Square on behalf of the CCP Central Committee. Hua Guofeng spoke second. The question of Mao Zedong's successor seemed to be open. The "Cultural Revolution" radicals effectively controlled the party, propaganda organs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the "minbing" militia but did not have influence in the army and could not control the entire state apparatus. On September 23rd, Wang Hongwen called Shanghai and gave an order, "It is necessary to increase vigilance; the struggle has by no means ended; the bourgeoisie within the party will never reconcile." He visited the Pinggu District near Beijing, where he repeated Mao Zedong's statement, "If there is revisionism in the CCP Central Committee, what will you do? You will overthrow it! If someone implements revisionism, I will also overthrow him, and if I implement revisionism, you should also rise in rebellion; it is necessary to look at things with wide-open eyes, to discern revisionism!" Meanwhile, Wang Hongwen spent four years in prison without trial. During the trial from November 20th to December 29th, 1980, he repented, admitting that he had "organized riots" in Shanghai. On January 25th, 1981, he was sentenced to life imprisonment and deprived of political rights. In 1986, he was hospitalized due to liver disease. Wang Hongwen died of liver cancer in a Beijing hospital on August 3rd, 1992.

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