Wu De (Chinese: 吴德; pinyin: Wú Dé; Wade–Giles: Wu Teh; February 5, 1913 – November 29, 1995),[1] born Li Chunhua (李春华), was a Chinese Communist revolutionary and politician of the People's Republic of China. He served in provincial-level leadership positions in Pingyuan Province, Tianjin municipality, Jilin Province, and Beijing municipality, and was a member of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party from 1973 to 1980.[2] After the Cultural Revolution, Wu was a key supporter of Hua Guofeng and was forced out of politics after Deng Xiaoping ousted Hua from his leadership position.

Communist revolution

Wu joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1933, and organized strikes and other workers' actions in the Tangshan area. After the eruption of the Second Sino-Japanese War, he organized the Hebei Anti-Japanese Army, committing it to guerrilla warfare in the northern regions. In 1940 he was appointed head of a working commission under the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party to oversee activity behind enemy lines. After the Chinese Civil War, he served as Party secretary for Tangshan.

Early PRC

After the communist victory of 1949, Wu De briefly served as Vice Minister of Fuel Industry of the newly established People's Republic of China. He became the Communist Party Chief of Pingyuan Province in 1950, replacing Pan Fusheng, who had been demoted. After Pingyuan Province was abolished in 1952, Wu De was transferred to Tianjin, where he served as Vice Mayor and then Mayor from 1952 to 1955. Afterwards he was appointed the party chief (then called First Secretary) of Jilin Province.[2]

Cultural Revolution

Wu served in this position until the Cultural Revolution started in 1966. As Mao Zedong insisted that the Beijing Municipal Committee needed to be reorganized without Peng Zhen, who contested the policies of the Cultural Revolution, on June 4 the Central Committee transferred Wu De to the capital as second secretary of the CCP Municipal Committee, ranking immediately beneath First Secretary Li Xuefeng. During their leadership, the two of them ordered the suspension of classes of Beijing universities to allow students to fully concentrate on the Cultural Revolution. In 1967 he became a vice-chairman of the Beijing Revolutionary Committee, and was elected member of the CCP Central Committee in 1969.

As Mao Zedong clashed with Lin Biao and Chen Boda at the Central Committee plenum held in Lushan in 1970, Wu De advised him to act swiftly in order to avoid trouble within the People's Liberation Army. He said: "The Chairman must act personally ... believing in the possibility to enlighten a lot of people united under the great leader Chairman Mao." From this moment on, Mao praised Wu De, calling him "virtuous" (playing on Wu De's first name, whose character 德 means "virtue"). Lin's death in the air crash following his attempted coup in 1971 enforced Wu's position. He was proclaimed head of the Cultural Group Under the State Council, a sort of temporary Minister of Culture.

After Xie Fuzhi's death in 1972, Wu De took over as chairman of the Beijing Revolutionary Committee and concurrently first secretary of the CCP Beijing Committee. In 1973 he was admitted into the CCP Politburo. He took active part at the "Criticize Lin Biao, Criticize Confucius" campaign, but Jiang Qing, believing he wanted to mislead the movement, criticized him, bringing forth his hostility towards the Gang of Four.

In 1975, he was a vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

Wu De actively struggled against a rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping and worked to promote Hua Guofeng as Mao's successor. He advocated repression of the 1976 Tiananmen Incident, earning the ironic nickname of "no virtue," (无德) a pun on his name. In October of the same year, he played a role in the arrest of the Gang of Four.

Downfall under Deng Xiaoping

The rise of Deng Xiaoping and the ouster of the Gang of Four marked the beginning of a repudiation of the Cultural Revolution. Though initially an important part of Hua Guofeng's leadership, Wu De was openly criticized at the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CCP Central Committee and lost his Politburo seat. In 1980, along with Chen Xilian and other Maoists, he was purged and resigned his post in the NPC Standing Committee.

Despite his participation to the Cultural Revolution, his role in removing the Gang of Four earned him a powerless position in the Central Advisory Commission by Hu Yaobang and Wan Li's suggestions. He died in Beijing in 1995.


  1. ^ 吴德的风雨人生
  2. ^ a b "Wu De" (in Chinese). People's Daily. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
Political offices Preceded byPan Fusheng Communist Party Chief of Pingyuan 1950–1952 Province abolished Preceded byHuang Jing Mayor of Tianjin 1953–1955 Succeeded byHuang Huoqing Preceded byLi Mengling Communist Party Chief of Jilin 1955–1966 Succeeded byZhao Lin Preceded byPeng Zhen Mayor of BeijingActing 1966–1967 Succeeded byXie Fuzhias Chairman of the Beijing Revolutionary Committee Preceded byXiao Wangdongas Minister of Culture Head of the Cultural Group Under the PRC State Council 1970–1975 Succeeded byYu Huiyongas Minister of Culture Preceded byXie Fuzhi Chairman of the Beijing Revolutionary Committee 1972–1978 Succeeded byLin Hujia