Gang of Four

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The Gang of Four (simplified Chinese: 四人帮; traditional Chinese: 四人幫; pinyin: Sìrén bāng) was the name given to a leftist political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The members consisted of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's last wife and the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.

The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the Communist Party of China through the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, although it remains unclear which major decisions were made through Mao Zedong and carried out by the Gang, and which were the result of the Gang of Four's own planning. The Gang of Four, together with disgraced Communist general Lin Biao, were labeled the two major "counter-revolutionary forces" of the Cultural Revolution and officially blamed for the worst excesses of the societal chaos that ensued during the ten years of turmoil. Their downfall in a coup d'état on October 6, 1976, a mere month after Mao's death, brought about major celebrations on the streets of Beijing and marked the end of a turbulent political era in China.



The name was given to the group by Mao Zedong in what seemed like a warning to Jiang Qing during which Mao stated, "Do not try to begin a gang of four to accumulate power".

The group was led by Jiang Qing, and consisted of three of her close associates, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen. Two other men who were already dead in 1976, Kang Sheng and Xie Fuzhi, were named as having been part of the "Gang". Chen Boda and Mao Yuanxin, the latter being Mao's nephew, were also considered some of the Gang's closer associates.

Most Western accounts consider that the actual leadership of the Cultural Revolution consisted of a wider group, referring predominantly to the members of the Central Cultural Revolution Group. Most prominent was Lin Biao, until his purported flight from China and death in a plane crash in 1971. Chen Boda is often classed as a member of Lin's faction rather than Jiang Qing's.[1]

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