From Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution to Deng Xiaoping’s Tiananmen Square crackdown and Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption crusade, the CCP leaders did not hesitate to take whatever measures they deemed necessary to secure and stay in power.
Nowhere is this more evident than in cases of purged party insiders.
From Peng Dehuai, the general tortured for opposing Mao’s disastrous economic policies, to Zhao Ziyang, the prime minister erased from history for seeking a compromise with protesters when Deng favored arms and tanks, and Zhou Yongkang, the former security chief who allegedly threatened Xi’s ascension only to be jailed for corruption – political purges are an age-old tradition of the CCP.
Here are some of the most prominent people who have been purged:
One of China’s greatest military leaders, Peng fell out of favor when he criticized Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a late 1950s economic program that attempted to catapult China into the industrial age by collectivizing farming and creating steel in backyard ovens, but ended up starving as many as 30 million people.
Peng – who had led Chinese forces during the Korean War and signed the armistice that ended hostilities – was appointed Minister of Defense in 1954. But he was removed from his post after calling the Grand’s policy. Impassable leap forward.
He was also one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution, a campaign of extreme violence launched in 1966 when fanatic Red Guards loyal to Mao set out to destroy all remnants of China’s feudal culture and root them out. perceived enemies of the president.
Peng was arrested in 1966, imprisoned and tortured, the Red Guards beat him until his back was “broken”, according to the People’s Daily. He died in 1974 while in solitary confinement.
Once considered Mao’s heir apparent, Liu was another major victim of the Cultural Revolution.
Liu, who replaced Mao as head of the Chinese state in 1959, was condemned by the Red Guards as a “renegade, traitor, strikebreaker” and a “capitalist trucker” determined to defeat the Communist revolution. In 1968, he was dismissed from his post and expelled from the party.
He died in 1969, but his death was not announced until 1974.
A revolutionary founder of the CCP, Deng was expelled from the party twice during the Mao era (1949-1976).
During the Cultural Revolution, Deng’s economic pragmatism and his ties to Mao’s rivals in the Communist leadership, including Liu Shaoqi, cost him his party positions. He was then sent to work in a tractor factory.
Mao brought Deng back to leadership in 1973, appointing him deputy prime minister and giving him day-to-day control of the government. But just four years later, Mao purged Deng again, this time because Mao feared Deng would overturn some of his radical policies.
After Mao’s death, Deng became the supreme leader of China – although he did not hold the highest post in the CCP – and remained the country’s most powerful figure until his death in 1997. .
Chinese Marshal Lin Biao succeeded Peng Dehuai as Chinese Minister of Defense in 1959.
He played a key role in the Cultural Revolution and was later named as Mao’s successor.
But by 1971, Lin and the military had amassed more political authority than Mao thought desirable, according to Edward JM Rhoads, professor of history at the University of Texas. In a desperate move to avoid being purged, Lin plotted a failed coup. The Chinese government later stated that Lin 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 collaborators were expelled from the party following Mao’s death in 1976.
Part of the group known as the Gang of Four, Jiang was arrested and tried for treason and other crimes against the state for her role in the Cultural Revolution. The group has been blamed for the deaths of 34,375 people and the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people.
During his trial, Jiang reportedly said, “I was Chairman Mao’s dog. The one he told me to bite, I bit.
Jiang was given a suspended death sentence which was later reduced to life imprisonment.
She committed suicide in 1991.
Mao’s political secretary, Chen was the main interpreter of the revolutionary leader’s thoughts.
He was sentenced to 18 years in prison for crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution.
Once Deng Xiaoping’s right-hand man, Hu was the CCP’s general secretary from 1980 to 1987.
In early 1997, after several weeks of student protests calling for greater political freedoms, Hu was removed from his top position and dismissed for tolerating “bourgeois liberalization” or Western democratic influences.
It was Hu’s death in 1989 that catalyzed the student-led democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Hu is also credited with helping turn around the political fortunes of Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, who was imprisoned during Mao’s time.
“By ending the 16-year purge of Elder Xi from the party and reinstating him to a party post in Guangdong, Hu Yaobang paved the way for Elder Xi’s continued power and influence and to the rise of young Xi to ultimate power in China today. Chinese observer Bonnie Girard explained in a 2018 article published in The Diplomat magazine.
CCP leader in 1989, Zhao was a reformist leader who was purged for refusing to declare martial law and for sending the military to quell pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square that year.
“I told myself that whatever happens, I would not be the secretary general who would mobilize the army to crack down on students,” he wrote later in his memoirs. On May 19, 1989, Zhao even showed up in person to the plaza at dawn to implore the students to leave the area. The next day, martial law was declared in Beijing and two weeks later soldiers entered the square and opened fire, killing hundreds if not thousands of people.
Zhao was placed under house arrest and never appeared in public again.
His name has since been mostly erased from Chinese media, stories and websites.
When he died in 2005, an official obituary only mentioned him as a comrade and did not mention that he had helped run the country for almost 10 years.
A former head of the Chinese security service, Zhou was jailed for life in 2015 for bribery, corruption and abuse of power.
He was the most senior figure in Xi’s vast anti-corruption crackdown.
Zhou’s son and wife were also jailed in 2016 for corruption. The Reuters news agency said Chinese authorities seized $ 14.5 billion from Zhou’s family and arrested or interrogated more than 300 family members, political allies, proteges and political allies of Zhou.
A senior CCP official later told the party congress in 2017 that Zhou and five others had plotted to seize power from Xi. They were prominent politician Bo Xilai, Politburo member Sun Zhengcai, former presidential aide Ling Jihua, late Army General Xu Caihou and former General Guo Boxiong.
Bo, a former CCP leader in Chongqing, was expelled from the party in 2012 following a dramatic scandal in which his wife was charged with the murder of a British businessman. The following year he was jailed for corruption, bribery and abuse of power.
Caihou died while under investigation for corruption while the other three members of the alleged plot against Xi were also jailed for corruption.
A former Politburo member, Sun was sentenced to life in prison in 2018 for corruption.
He had previously been considered a candidate for the head of the party.
A senior CCP official told the party’s Congress in 2017 that Sun and five others plotted to seize power from Xi.
A former senior adviser to former Chinese President Hu Jintao, Ling was sentenced in 2016 to life in prison for corruption, abuse of power and illegal obtaining of state secrets.
His wife testified in the lawsuit against him.
Ling’s brother, Ling Zhengce, was also sentenced that same year to 12.5 years in prison for corruption.
A senior CCP official told the Party Congress in 2017 that Ling Jihua was one of six people who plotted to usurp power from Xi.
A former general who served as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, Xu was kicked out of the CCP in 2014 amid corruption charges. He died the following year of bladder cancer.
In announcing his death, the Chinese military declared that Xu’s “pathetic and shameful life” was over.
A senior CCP official told the Party Congress in 2017 that the Xu was among six people who plotted to usurp power from Xi.
A former general who served as vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, Guo was jailed for life in 2016 for accepting bribes.
A senior CCP official told the Party Congress in 2017 that Guo was one of six people who plotted to usurp power from Xi.