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Tao Zhu
Personal details
Born(1908-01-16)16 January 1908
Qiyang, Hunan, Qing China
Died30 November 1969(1969-11-30) (aged 61)
Hefei, Anhui, China
Political partyChinese Communist Party
Alma materWhampoa Military Academy

Tao Zhu (simplified Chinese: 陶铸; traditional Chinese: 陶鑄; pinyin: Táo Zhù; Wade–Giles: T'ao Chu; 16 January 1908 – 30 November 1969) was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party .


Born in Qiyang, Hunan.

He was imprisoned in Nanjing by the Kuomintang government from 1933 to 1937. As for many other cadres, during the Rectification Campaign having been in a KMT prison was a reason to suspect him as a spy and he was put under investigation.[1]: 556–557 

Tao Zhu was Secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Committee and Commander of the Guangzhou Military Region. He became implicated during the Gao Gang affair but was protected from criticism by Mao Zedong. In 1958, during the initial stages of the Great Leap Forward, he participated enthusiastically in the "anti-hoarding campaign" in Guangdong, believing that reported production figures were real, and that the observed food shortage was only due to peasants' hoarding. Within a year, he realized his mistake as his campaign was not able to discover stored food supplies in villages; in fact, most peasants were starving. In the 1959 Lushan Conference, he initially sympathized with Peng Dehuai in his criticism of the Great Leap Forward. However, after a harsh reaction from Mao Zedong, Tao Zhu switched sides and joined up in Mao's attack on "right-leaning opportunists", submitting a list of his own officials that he identified as "opportunists". Nonetheless, in Guangdong, Tao's government took steps to reverse the damage of the Great Leap Forward by expanding individual peasant ownership of land and allowing emigration to Hong Kong.

He later became First Secretary of the Central-South region, and in 1965 was moved to Beijing to replace Lu Dingyi as Director of the Central Propaganda Department when Lu was purged for not adhering strongly to the Maoist line. Tao was a Vice Premier of the State Council and Secretary of the Central Secretariat of the CPC, as well as an advisor to the Cultural Revolution Group.

In May 1966, Tao Zhu was promoted to No. 4 in the party, behind Mao Zedong, Lin Biao and Zhou Enlai. That allowed his protégé, Zhao Ziyang, to take over as head of Guangdong province. Tao became a member of the Politburo Standing Committee at the Eleventh Plenum in August 1966 at the outset of the Cultural Revolution.

Tao and Zhao were among the most enthusiastic of the early pro-Red Guard CPC leaders, but quickly fell from favour because they tried to control the excesses of the radical leftists led by Zhang Chunqiao and Jiang Qing.[2] During an enlarged Politburo meeting in 1966 he was attacked by Wang Li, a junior member of the CRG, for curtailing revolution with the excuse of protecting production.[3]: 69  In mid-December he was again attacked by the CRG for allegedly protecting Wang Renzhong. At first he was protected by Mao Zedong, with Mao criticising Jiang Qing actions, but the CRG continued their attacks. He defended treating the cases of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping as contradictions among the people, this caused Mao's displease and, despite the encouragement of Zhou Enlai and Lin Biao to adopt a more passive attitude, the attacks by the CRG persisted.[3]: 70–71  He was labelled "the proxy leader of Liu-and-Deng-roaders" and a "Khrushchev-style ambitionist" by leading radical leftists [1]: 557  and placed under house arrest in early 1967. Oddly enough, Mao continued criticising Chen Boda and Jiang Qing for excesses on handling his case, but nothing was done to protect him.

While under house arrest, Tao was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer, but was initially denied medical treatment. Zhou Enlai eventually intervened to arrange an operation, but by then Tao's cancer was too advanced to treat successfully, and Tao died in a hospital. Tao's family was not allowed to see him either on his deathbed or after his death.[4] He was posthumously exonerated in 1978, after Deng Xiaoping rose to power. He was remembered as a man of great integrity.

Tao's daughter, Tao Siliang, became a Chinese politician in the late 1980s, leading several government initiatives in public health and the import of Western medical technology.


  1. ^ a b Hua, Gao (2018-11-15). How the Red Sun Rose: The Origin and Development of the Yan'an Rectification Movement, 1930–1945. The Chinese University of Hong Kong Press. ISBN 978-962-996-822-9.
  2. ^ Vogel, Ezra, Canton Under Communism: Programs and Politics in a Provincial Capital, 1949-68, Harper & Row (New York), 1969 SBNN: 06-131629-6, p. 326-327
  3. ^ a b Teiwes, Frederick C.; Sun, Warren. The Lin Biao Tragedy: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution.
  4. ^ Chung, Jang. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. Touchstone: New York, NY. 2003. ISBN 0-7432-4698-5. p.391.
Party political offices Preceded byYe Jianying Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Committee 1955–1965 Succeeded byZhao Ziyang Preceded byLu Dingyi Head of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party 1966–1967 Succeeded byKang ShengVacant until 1970 Political offices Preceded byYe Jianying Governor of Guangdong 1953–1957 Succeeded byChen Yu New title Chairman of the Guangdong CPPCC 1955–1960 Succeeded byOu Mengjue Academic offices Preceded byLi ShouyongAbolished since 1949 President of the Jinan University 1958–1963 Succeeded byChen Xujing