Zhang Chunqiao Edit Profile
After the Yan'an conference in 1938, he joined the Communist Party of China.
Zhang Chunqiao began a lifelong career in political journalism and propaganda by publishing patriotic essays in the Shandong Nationalist Daily News in 1932. After a brief spell of fascination with Fascism he turned to Leninism and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while working in literary circles in Shanghai in April 1936. After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War he moved to Yan'an and the Communist-controlled areas of China, where he remained active as a Party propagandist throughout most of the 1940s.
By 1950, Zhang had returned to Shanghai, and in the mid-1950s he became a member of the Shanghai CCP committee and director of its official newspaper, the Liberation Daily. At the beginning of the Great Leap Forward, he rose to national fame as an ideological apologist of egalitarianism. In October 1958, at the direct suggestion of Mao Zedong, the People's Daily reprinted his article “Eradicate the Ideology of Bourgeois Right” in which he advocated the wholesale abolition of so-called Mmaterial incentivesM (i.e., various forms of remuneration according to labor), and the establishment of a quasimilitary egalitarian supply system as the means whereby China would be able to achieve the rapid transition from Socialism to Communism. In April 1959, he was elected onto the standing committee of the Shanghai CCP committee.
In 1963, Zhang established a close working relationship with Mao's wife Jiang Qing, whose attempts to reform the traditional Beijing opera he actively backed as newly appointed director of the Shanghai CCP Propaganda Department. Together with Yao Wenyuan, by 1965 he had become part of a small group of confidants upon which Mao relied to launch the Cultural Revolution. In May 1966, he was appointed vice-director of the Central Cultural Revolution group under the CCP Politburo, and began to participate actively in high-level national politics.
In February 1967, Zhang became chairman of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee, a new body created to supersede the old municipal Party committee. At the National Day celebrations in Beijing in 1968, he ranked number seven among the Party and government leaders present. In April 1969, the Ninth CCP Central Committee elected him into its Politburo. In the early 1970s, while becoming more and more preoccupied with national affairs, he succeeded in retaining considerable control over Shanghai, turning the city into an important power base for himself, Jiang Qing, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen. In August 1973, at the first plenum of the Tenth CCP Central Committee, he was made a member of the standing committee of the CCP Politburo.
In January 1975, Zhang was appointed director of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) General Political Department and second-ranking vice-premier of the state council. In this latter capacity he delivered a report on the revision of the constitution of the Peopled Republic of China (PRC) to the First Session of the Fourth People's Congress. In April 1975 he published “On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship over the Bourgeoisie in which he presented an authoritative Maoist theoretical justification for the praxis of the Cultural Revolution, as well as reiterated some of his own ideas from the time of the Great Leap Forward about the need to eradicate the bourgeois right.
On October 6, 1976, four weeks after the death of Mao Zedong, Zhang was arrested in what was essentially a palace coup by a coalition of senior government and military leaders opposed to the Cultural Revolution. Together with Jiang Qing, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen (the so-called Gang of Four) he was accused of having attempted to use the Cultural Revolution to undermine China’s socialist system in order to pave the way for the restoration of capitalism. When she was told of the fate that had befallen her son Zhang’s eighty-year-old mother committed suicide. On January 23, 1981 at a major trial, Zhang was branded a counterevolutionary and sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve (a punishment subsequently commuted to life imprisonment). In 1999 he was allegedly still incarcerated in the maximum-security Qincheng Prison outside Beijing.
In 1938 he joined the Communist Party of China.
Politburo, 9th Central Committee, CCP 1969. Standing Committee, Politburo, 10th Central Committee of CCP 1973, 1975-1976. Of “Gang of Four” October 1976, expelled from CCP July 1977.