Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Fall of Xi Jinping's Father

The 10th Plenum of the Party's 8th Central Committee of the CCP was held in September 1962, in Beijing. 
This excerpt of The Private Life of Chairman Mao by Dr Li Zhisui is interesting on several accounts:
  1. In one way, the Plenum marked the beginning of the movement which culminated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution a few years later. During the Plenum, Mao retook the upper hand on the Party and his old comrades. He reemphasized class struggle in order to prevent the emergence of revisionism. He denounced 'the members of the bourgeoisie right in the party ranks'. He even attacked his mild Premier Zhou Enlai and Foreign Minister Chen Yi. They were accused to try to rehabilitate the intellectuals and the scientists: "the party has not yet properly educated the intellectuals. The bourgeois spirit hangs over like a ghost over their heads." Mao reasserted that the Great Leap Forward (65 millions of Chinese died according to the latest studies) was the right thing for China.
  2. Till the summer of 1962, Zhou and Chen were the two main makers of China's India policy; Zhou was in favour of initiating negotiations with the Indian government on the border issue. This policy abruptly ended during the Plenum; it was decided to ‘teach a lesson’ to India. The attack on India, two months later was for Mao and his new protégé Lin Biao a way to reassert their supremacy over Lui Shaoqi, Chen Yi and Deng Xiaoping.
  3. A few months later, after having humiliated India, Mao began to openly denounce the Soviet Union. A series of nine articles against Marxist revisionism were published. One of them was On Khruschev's Phoney Communism and Historical Lessons for the World.
    He could not do this openly during the Plenum as he was still hoping for the Soviet Union's neutrality in the Sino-Indian conflict.
  4. It was the beginning of the end for the Panchen Lama who a few months earlier, had sent his 70,000 character petition to Zhou Enlai detailing the suffering of the Tibetan people between 1959 and 1962. Mao called the petition 'a poisoned arrow shot at the Party by reactionary feudal overlords'. Two leaders later, he was dismissed from all posts and declared 'an enemy of the Tibetan people'.
  5. The first casualty of the Plenum was Xi Zhongxun, Xi Jinping’s father. His mistake: he had been too close of Peng Dehuai who had dared criticizing Mao’s Great Leap Forward in 1959. Xi also happened too close to the Panchen Lama.
One understands that Xi 'ate bitterness' when he was young. He was 9 at the time of the Tenth Plenum.

The Private Life of Chairman Mao (page 394)

Mao had reached his Yellow River. He was determined to push on. In the summer of 1962, he emerged from his retreat. When he told me he would call two major party conferences in the upcoming months, I knew that his counteroffensive was about to begin. What I did not know was who would be attacked first.
The first party conference, held in Beidaihe on August 6, was a relatively small gathering of leaders at the rank of provincial first party secretary, minister, and above. Mao delivered a speech called Classes, the Situation, and the Contradiction. Mao had spent much of his time in retreat formulating his theoretical justification, in Marxist terms, of the attacks he was about to launch against his own party. He could not simply purge the leaders he did not like. He did not have the power. Like all Chinese leaders, he needed Marxist morality to justify his actions. By relying on Marxist morality, he could mobilize the masses against the leaders he wanted to purge.
His justification was the argument that classes do not disappear with the introduction of socialism. Even after the collectivization of property, classes continue to exist, Mao said, and class struggle persists. Contradictions between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, between the capitalist road and the socialist road, continue too, he said, and so does class struggle.
With the Tenth Plenum of the party's Eighth Central Committee that met the following month, in September 1962, Mao's theoretical justification for his counterattack was further refined. Not only do classes and class struggle continue to exist, Mao asserted, but the battle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie will be protracted and sometimes severe. "In the historical period from the proletarian revolution to the proletarian dictatorship, and in the transitional period from capitalism to communism, which may last several decades or longer, a class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeois classes, a struggle between the capitalist road and the socialist road, still exists," he said. China was facing a danger of capitalist restoration that had to be fought through relentless class struggle.
Still later he would argue that the party itself had become a haven for capitalists. Members of the bourgeoisie were right in the party ranks.
His two speeches were filled with invective, and his attacks were wide-ranging. He lashed out against intellectuals, further reversing the conciliatory stance of Zhou Enlai and Chen Yi. A union between intellectuals and workers is premature, Mao asserted. "The party has not yet properly educated the intellectuals. The bourgeois spirit hangs like a ghost over their heads. They are vacillating."
He struck out against Peng Dehuai, too. Peng had submitted a lengthy appeal for his political rehabilitation, professing his support for the people's communes and asserting that he had never formed an anti-party group or colluded with the Soviet Union. Instead of accepting Peng's appeal, Mao escalated the charges, accusing him now of having colluded not only with the Soviet Union but with all reactionary forces of the world, including even, he implied, the United States. Peng, Mao said, had been trying to conduct a worldwide counterrevolutionary, anti-communist chorus. There would be no reversal of verdicts on Peng Dehuai or those who had sympathized with his views. Exoneration of the enemy was out of the question.
Then he turned his opprobrium against the Panchen Lama of Tibet, denouncing him as "an enemy of our class." Tibet's chief spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had fled to India in 1959 when negotiations between the central Chinese government and Tibetan leaders had broken down and many Tibetans had rioted. A crackdown had followed, and the Panchen "Lama, ordinarily subservient to Beijing, was now arguing that Beijing's so-called "democratic reforms" had moved too far to the left. He hoped that the ultraleftist trend in Tibet could be corrected.
Li Weihan, the director of the party's United Front, who had supported the Panchen Lama's views, was next to come under Mao's gun. Mao denounced him as a "capitulationist," accusing him of kowtowing to the Tibetan lords and criticizing him for promoting unity between intellectuals and workers. Li Weihan was dismissed from his position. The Panchen Lama was spared, but attacks against him continued. During the Cultural Revolution, the Panchen Lama spent nearly ten years under house arrest.
Wang Jingxian, head of the central party offices responsible for liaison with foreign Communist parties, had suggested improving ties with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe while reducing economic aid to communist parties seeking the liberation of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Wang was stripped of his power, accused by Mao of being a revisionist. Wang remained in his post, but his substantive responsibilities were transferred to deputy director Zhao Yimin.
Mao saw the system of contracting production to rural households as an example of the persistence of capitalism and ordered the practice halted. Advocates of the policy were capitalists and had to be purged. He attacked Deng Zihui and Liao Luyan, the two men responsible for the national direction of agriculture. Deng Zihui, director of the party's Rural Work Department and the man who had been encouraging a more moderate approach to agriculture since I joined Group One in the mid-1950s, was accused of being a veteran rightist of ten years' standing. Liao Luyan, the minister of agriculture under the State Council, who had argued that the mess of the Great Leap had more to do with policy than weather, was labeled a revisionist.
Anhui's Zeng Xisheng was among the first of the local leaders to be purged, just after the meetings concluded. The province's successful agricultural experiments were brought to an end, and agricultural production in the already poor and suffering countryside plunged further still.
Ge Man, the party secretary of Linxia prefecture, in Gansu province — a rival with Anhui for the dubious honor of poorest province in China — was next on Mao's list. Ge Man had introduced the contract responsibility system into Linxia prefecture and the results had been good. Agricultural production had increased. Gansu provincial party secretary Wang Feng, attributing the widespread hunger and poverty in Gansu to the formation of people's communes, fully supported Ge Man in his experiments. Mao accused both men of being "capitalist roaders," but only prefectural chief Ge Man was purged in 1962. Wang Feng did not lose his position until August 1966. When the Cultural Revolution began, he was among the first three people to be labeled by Mao as "counterrevolutionary revisionists." Ge Man suffered renewed attack at the same time and committed suicide.
The autumn of 1962 was a turning point for Mao and the party. Mao's insistence that classes persisted even under socialism effectively silenced the voices of reason, voices of potential dissent. The spirit of openness and daring that had characterized the 7,000 cadres' conference was reversed. Those who had the good of the country at heart, who believed that agricultural production would best be served by taking responsibility for agricultural management out of the hands of the collectives and the cadres and giving it back to the peasants, dared not push their views. Mao's arguments about classes and class contradictions provided the theoretical underpinnings for all the purges that followed, culminating, in 1966, with his Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. To disagree with the Chairman was to risk becoming a counterrevolutionary and a "capitalist roader," and for Mao there was no greater crime.
The purges continued after the September 1962 Tenth Plenum, and the man Mao put in charge was Kang Sheng.
Kang Sheng was a longtime party member and had been with Mao in Yanan. Indeed, it was said that Kang Sheng had sponsored Jiang Qing's membership in the party and arranged for her to go to Yanan, where she met and married Mao. Kang Sheng and Jiang Qing were both from Shandong province and their close relationship went back long before the revolution of 1949.
I first met Kang Sheng in 1958. He had not been actively involved in politics after 1949. He had been hospitalized sometime around the communist takeover and was not released until the beginning of the Great Leap Forward, when he became one of its most vocal supporters. My friends, doctors responsible for his treatment at Beijing Hospital, told-me he was suffering from schizophrenia, and I do not know why he was finally released. My contact with him was minimal-and strained. I saw him visit Mao occasionally, but their meetings were always private, and Kang Sheng never indulged in the same small talk, the easy give-and-take, of other leaders who visited the Chairman from time to time.
He and Jiang Qing became particularly close after 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, and they occasionally asked me to join them to watch Jiang Qing's favorite American movies. Jiang Qing was always solicitous and respectful of Kang, more solicitous than I ever saw her with anyone else. She asked his opinion on everything and took his answers to heart. She called him Kang Lao, one of the most respectful and affectionate forms of address available in the Chine se language. He was the only person to whom she ever accorded such an honor.
I usually tried to avoid Kang Sheng, sensing in him some deeper evil that I could never fully explain. He had the look of deceit about him. Even his photographs, I think, convey an air of evil. I associated him with the dark side of the party, with all the dirty work that had to be done, delving into people's pasts, finding new enemies, suggesting new targets for attack. I did not want to be part of that, nor would Mao have wanted me to be. There was much that I never knew.
Kang's political activities picked up after the Tenth Plenum. When Mao attacked Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun, accusing him of supporting the rehabilitation of Gao Gang and of being anti-party, he put Kang Sheng in charge of investigating "the Xi Zhongxun anti-party plot." Kang Sheng's investigations implicated more than three hundred cadres from the party, government, and military, including Central Committee member Jia Tuofu, Ma Wenrui, the minister of labor under the State Council, and Bai Jian, vice-minister of the State Council's first ministry of machine building.
I knew Xi Zhongxun well, and the charges against him and his supporters were fabricated. But Kang Sheng's job was to depose and destroy his fellow party members, and his continuing "investigations" of ranking party leaders in the early 1960s laid the groundwork for the attacks of the Cultural Revolution to come. Many casualties followed immediately in the wake of the Tenth Plenum. Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun was sent down to Henan and later put under house arrest. He remained in political disgrace until- 1980. Many of the three hundred people falsely implicated suffered similar fates.
Mao also began trying to reassert control over agriculture following the Tenth Plenum, halting the trend toward private farming and trying to prevent what he saw as a capitalist resurgence. The process was slow, and the question of what had gone wrong with the Great Leap Forward was forgotten. Not until May 1963, at a meeting of the politburo and secretaries of the regional bureaus in Hangzhou, was Mao victorious. It was then that his draft Resolution on Certain Problems of Rural Work at the Present Time was discussed and passed. The resolution asserted that both feudal and capitalist forces were attempting to stage a comeback in the Chinese countryside, leading to sharp class struggle in the rural areas. Mao's solution to the problems was to launch what he called a "socialist education campaign" in the Chinese countryside class enemies had to be properly identified and brought to task, and local cadres and peasants had to be educated in socialism and class struggle.
From the protective bubble of Group One [Bodyguard regiment around Mao], I still knew little about what is going on in the Chinese countryside — except that the Great Leap had been a catastrophe and recovery from the famine was slow. I did not understand Mao's socialist education campaign. Sitting on the train after the May 1963 Hangzhou meetings, talking to Wang Dongxing and Lin Ke, just before he left Group One for good, I questioned the policy. Just when, communes were successfully restructured and peasants seemed to be getting back into a more reasonable routine, Mao wanted to stir things up again, I pointed out. He was calling on teams of urban cadres to go down to the villages to check into the economic and financial conditions of the people's communes. The presumption was that many of the local cadres had become corrupt during the famine. The city teams would both get a firsthand understanding of the hardships in the villages and act as outside investigators into cadre corruption in financial accounting, food distribution, property divisions, and the system of how commune members were paid.

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