The 100-year history of the Chinese Communist Party is not only a revolution and a renewal, but also ruthlessness.
From Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution to the repression of Deng Xiaoping’s Tiananmen Square and Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, CCP leaders have not hesitated to take any measures they deem necessary to secure and remain in power. .
Nothing is more evident than in the cases of purged party insiders.
From Peng Dehuai, the general who was tortured for opposing Mao’s disastrous economic policies, to Zhao Ziyang, the prime minister canceled out of history for seeking a compromise with protesters when Deng favored arms and cars armed men, and Zhou Yongkang, the former head of security who would have threatened Xi’s rise only to be imprisoned for corruption – political purges are a tradition of the old CCP.
Here are some of the most important figures that have been purged:
One of China’s greatest military leaders, Peng fell by the wayside when he criticized Mao’s Great Leap Forward, an economic program in the late 1950s that tried to catapult China into the industrial era by collectivizing farming and creating steel in backyard furnaces, but ended up with some 30 million people starving to death.
Peng – who had led Chinese forces in the Korean War and signed the armistice that ended hostilities – was appointed defense minister in 1954. But he was fired from office after calling it impractical and policies of the Great Leap Forward.
She was also one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution, a campaign of extreme violence launched in 1966 when fanatical Red Guards loyal to Mao set out to destroy all vestiges of China’s feudal culture and eradicate perceived enemies. of the president.
Peng was arrested in 1966, imprisoned and tortured, with the Red Guards beating him until his back was “shattered,” according to the Daily Mail. He died in 1974 while being held in solitary confinement.
Once considered Mao’s apparent heir, Liu was another important victim of the Cultural Revolution.
Liu, who replaced Mao as Chinese head of state in 1959, has been condemned by the Red Guards as a “renegade, traitor, scab” and a “capitalist roader” intent on defeating the communist revolution. In 1968, he was stripped of his positions and expelled from the party.
He died in 1969, but his death was not announced until 1974.
A founding member of the CCP, Deng was purged twice from the party during the Mao era (1949-1976).
During the Cultural Revolution, Deng’s economic pragmatism and ties with Mao’s rivals in the communist leadership, including Liu Shaoqi, cost him his party seats. He was then sent to work in a tractor factory.
Mao returned Deng to the leadership in 1973, appointing him deputy prime minister and giving him day-to-day control of the government. But only four years later, Mao purged Deng again, this time because Mao feared that Deng might overturn some of his radical policies.
After Mao’s death, Deng became China’s first leader – although he did not occupy the CCP’s top spot – and remained the country’s most powerful figure until his death in 1997. .
Lin Biao, a Chinese marshal, succeeded Peng Dehuai as China’s defense minister in 1959.
He played a key role in the Cultural Revolution and was later appointed as Mao’s successor.
But by 1971, Lin and the military had accumulated more political authority than Mao thought desirable, according to Edward JM Rhoads, a professor of history at the University of Texas. In a desperate move to avoid being purged, Lin struck a blow that failed. Later, the Chinese government said that Lin had died on September 13, 1971, in a plane crash in Mongolia while fleeing to the Soviet Union.
Mao’s third wife, Jiang Qing, and three of his aides were expelled from the party after Mao’s death in 1976.
Part of a group called the Gang of Four, Jiang was arrested and tried for treason and other crimes against the state for his role in the Cultural Revolution. The group was accused of killing 34,375 people and persecuting hundreds of thousands of people.
During his trial, Jiang was told that he had said, “I was President Mao’s dog. Whoever told me to bite, I died. “
Jiang was given a suspended death sentence which was later reduced to life imprisonment.
She died by suicide in 1991.
Mao’s political secretary, Chen was the chief interpreter of the revolutionary leader’s thoughts.
He was sentenced to 18 years in prison for crimes during the Cultural Revolution.
Once a right-hand man to Deng Xiaoping, Hu served as the CCP’s secretary general from 1980-87.
In early 1997, after several weeks of student demonstrations demanding more political freedoms, Hu was ousted from the party’s supreme position and put aside to tolerate “bourgeois liberalization” or Western democratic influences. .
It was Hu’s death in 1989 that catalyzed student-led protests for democracy in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. He is also believed to have helped repair the political fortunes of Xi Xi Zhongxun’s father, who had been imprisoned during Mao’s time.
“By ending Elder Xi’s 16-year purge from the party, and re-establishing himself in a party position in Guangdong, Hu Yaobang paved the way for Elder Xi’s continued power and influence, and for the rise of the youngest Xi to ultimate power in China today, ”Bonnie Girard, a force from China, argued in a 2018 article published in The Diplomat magazine.
Head of the CCP in 1989, Zhao was a reformist leader who had been purged for refusing to declare martial law and sending the army to suppress pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square that year.
“I told myself that no matter, I will not be the general secretary who mobilized the army to repress the students,” he later wrote in his memoirs. On May 19, 1989, Zhao also appeared in person at the square at dawn to beg students to leave the area. The next day, martial law was declared in Beijing and two weeks later, the soldiers moved to the square and open fire, killing hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Zhao was placed under house arrest and never appeared in public again.
Subsequently, his name was largely erased from the Chinese media, stories and websites.
When he died in 2005, an official obituary referred only to him as a companion and did not say that he had helped lead the country for almost 10 years.
Former head of China’s security services, Zhou was jailed for life in 2015 for corruption, bribery and abuse of power.
He was the figure of the highest ranking shot down in Xi’s vast anti-corruption crackdown.
Zhou’s son and wife were also jailed in 2016 for corruption. Reuters news agency said Chinese authorities had taken $ 14.5 billion from Zhou’s family, and had arrested or interrogated more than 300 Zhou relatives, political allies, protégés and political allies.
A senior CCP official said after the party’s congress in 2017 that Zhou and five other people were plotting to seize power in Xi. They were an important politician Bo Xilai, a member of the Politburo Sun Zhengcai, former presidential assistant Ling Jihua, the late army general Xu Caihou and former general Guo Boxiong.
Bo, a former CCP leader in Chongqing, was expelled from the party in 2012 after the dramatic scandal in which his wife was accused of murdering a British businessman. The following year, he was jailed for corruption, bribery and abuse of power.
Caihou died while being investigated for trespassing while the three remaining in the alleged plot against Xi were also jailed for corruption.
A former member of the Politburo, Sun was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for corruption.
He had once been considered a candidate for the top leadership of the party.
A senior CCP official told the 2017 Party Congress that Sun and five others had plotted to take power to Xi.
A former aide to former Chinese President Hu Jintao, Ling was sentenced in 2016 to life in prison for corruption, abuse of power and illegally obtaining state secrets.
His wife testified in the lawsuit against him.
Ling’s brother, Ling Zhengce, was also sentenced that same year to 12 and a half years in prison for corruption.
A senior CCP official told the 2017 Party Congress that Ling Jihua was part of six people who had plotted to usurp Xi’s power.
A former general who was vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, Xu was expelled from the CCP in 2014 amid allegations of corruption. He died the following year from a bladder cancer.
Announcing his death, the Chinese military said Xu’s “pathetic and shameful life” was over.
A senior CCP official told the 2017 Party Congress that Xu was part of six people who had plotted to usurp Xi’s power.
Guo, a former general who was vice chairman of the Central China Military Commission, was jailed for life in 2016 for accepting corruption.
A senior CCP official told the 2017 Party Congress that Guo was one of six people who had plotted to usurp Xi’s power.