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Dark Side Last Updated: Aug 8, 2022 - 11:56:15 AM

Who were the most dangerous women in history?
By Timothy Chu, History of War 1/8/22
Aug 4, 2022 - 11:51:48 AM

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Jiang Qing (江青

, she fanatically executed his commands during the Cultural Revolution, which saw the return of Mao to political power in China after his disgrace in the Great Leap Forward

. Jiang, a fan of senseless political campaigns and purges, would be so radical that even Mao would later urge the nation not to embrace Jiang Qing as the next leader of China.

Following the widespread famine after the Great Leap Forward, Mao's influence in the party fell and he resigned from the administrative positions of the government. He turned to Jiang Qing and his other old allies at this time, and began rehabilitating his image and plotting a return to power. By 1966, he seized control of the Cultural Revolution and turned it into one of the most brutal mass-persecutions in history, with the chaos to rival a full civil war. Jiang Qing helped him build his terrifying cult of personality, so that the everyday Chinese revered him as a God. She became one of his most powerful executioners during that time, ordering the deaths of those whom she had personal vendettas against, and often killed or subjected their families to extensive beatings and tortures. Anyone who grew up in China in the cities will probably have vivid memories during this era.

Jiang had a prominent role in encouraging the Red Guards, groups of armed youth who had sworn allegiance to Mao. Anybody accused of "counterrevolutionary activities" during that period could be dragged out to the street, tortured, or executed. Jiang and her clique helped build up the cult of personality around Mao, and anyone who went against his sayings could be targeted. Loyalty to Mao trumped that of family; children were encouraged or coerced into denouncing their parents, and watched as they were dragged through the street in chains while being kicked and beaten. Tens of millions of people were sentenced to prison or "reformative" labor, tortured, or killed. The power of the Red Guards rose to rival that of the army, and chaos spilled through the country.

After purging the government of anyone who dared question Mao, Jiang and the Gang of Four seized control of the cultural institutions of China and shut down the Chinese education system. They replaced schools with fanatical Mao Zedong worship, and ordered the Red Guards to destroy religion and traditional culture. Thousands of temples, monasteries, and historical relics throughout China and Tibet were smashed in this era, and the monks and priests associated with them were violently persecuted. All of this was done at Mao's personal request.

At times, Jiang would prove even more radical than her husband. When Red Guards attacked the Chinese military (PLA) in July 1967 in the Wuhan Incident

, she came down strongly in favor of the Red Guards, publicly accusing the army of being insufficiently revolutionary (Mao himself refrained from taking sides in the conflict). Soon, the Red Guards became so violent and unrestrained that they threatened to spiral the country into Civil War. After he felt the Red Guards had served their purpose, Mao ended the movement; but his cult of personality and the violent political persecutions remained.

"向文化大革命英勇旗手, 江青同志学习致敬". "Support the Great Cultural Revolution's standard bearer, study and pay respects to Comrade Jiang Qing!!"
Propaganda poster with Jiang Qing and Mao's Little Red Book, Cultural Revolution era

Following the political purges during that era, Jiang Qing gained considerable influence in the party. As Zhou Enlai (the moderate premier of the era who had survived the Cultural Revolution by going along with its excesses) grew weak with cancer, Jiang and the radical wing of the Communist Party gained outsized influence in the government. By 1974, even Mao would warn that

“She (Jiang Qing) does not represent me. She represents herself”.

Upon his deathbed, Mao selected the comparatively moderate Hua Guofeng as his successor, passing over Jiang Qing and the Gang of Four. After Mao's death in 1976, a power struggle ensued between three factions; Jiang Qing and the radicals, Hua Guofeng, Mao's designated successor, and Deng Xiaoping, who represented the moderate wing in the CCP. By then, the national mood had turned against the excesses of the Cultural Revolution symbolized by Jiang Qing, and she and her clique lost the power struggle. At her trial, she made the famous quote

I was Chairman Mao's dog. I bit whomever he asked me to bite.

She was sentenced to prison, where she died a decade later.

Even in death, she and her clique proved dangerous: the Communist Party has preserved Mao's image by shifting the blame of the Cultural Revolution away from Mao onto Jiang. Nowadays, much of the country blames her instead of him for the worst of the Cultural Revolution's excesses, even though he was the real power behind it all.

If your parents grew up in China from anytime between 1950 to 1980, they will almost certainly have been personally affected by Mao, Jiang Qing, and the Gang of Four. If you ask them what that era was like, you might be surprised at what they'll tell you.


1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiang_Qing

2) The 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century - TIME
Chinese Politics: Ninth Party Congress (1969) to the Death of Mao (1976) (edited by Meyers, Domes, Groeling)
China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: Master Narratives and Post-Mao Counternarratives (Asia/Pacific/Perspectives)



Source:Ocnus.net 2022

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