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Zhang Chunqiao
Vice Premier of China
In office
January 1975 – July 1977
PremierZhou Enlai
Hua Guofeng
LeaderMao Zedong
Director of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee[a]
In office
February 1967 – July 1977
Preceded byCao Diqiu (as mayor)
Succeeded bySu Zhenhua
Personal details
Born(1917-02-01)1 February 1917
Heze, Shandong, Republic of China
Died21 April 2005(2005-04-21) (aged 88)
Beijing, China
Political partyChinese Communist Party (1938–1977; expelled)
Zhang Chunqiao
Simplified Chinese张春桥
Traditional Chinese張春橋

Zhang Chunqiao (Chinese: 张春桥; 1 February 1917 – 21 April 2005) was a prominent Chinese political theorist, writer, and politician. He came to the national spotlight during the late stages of the Cultural Revolution, and was a member of the ultra-Maoist group dubbed the "Gang of Four".

Zhang joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1938, later becoming a prominent journalist in charge of Jiefang Daily after the establishment of the People's Republic. He rose to prominence after his October 1958 article entitled "Destroy the Ideology of Bourgeois Right" caught the attention of Mao Zedong, who ordered its reproduction in People's Daily.

With the onset of the Cultural Revolution, he was appointed as a member of the Cultural Revolution Group. In 1967, Zhang organized the Shanghai People's Commune and briefly became its chairman, effectively overthrowing the local Shanghai government and local party structures. Afterwards, he was appointed as the director of the Shanghai Revolutionary Committee. He joined the Politburo in 1969, and its inner Standing Committee in 1973, reaching his zenith as the country's second-ranking vice premier in 1975.

After Mao's death in 1976, Zhang was arrested along with the other members of what would become known as the Gang of Four. He was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, later commuted to life imprisonment, and then further reduced to 18 years. He was released from prison in 1998 to undergo medical treatment, and died in 2005.

Early life

Born in Juye County, Shandong, Zhang worked as a writer in Shanghai in the 1930s, developing strong connections within the city. After attending a 1938 conference in Yan'an, he joined the Chinese Communist Party.

People's Republic of China

With the proclamation of the People's Republic of China, Zhang became a prominent Shanghai journalist, put in charge of the newspaper Jiefang Daily. Here, he met Jiang Qing.

Zhang first came to prominence as the result of his October 1958 article in Jiefang Daily entitled "Destroy the Ideology of Bourgeois Right". Mao Zedong took notice of the article, and ordered it to be reprinted in People's Daily, along with an accompanying "Editor's Note" expressing his mild approval.[1] Zhang was seen as one of Mao's firmest supporters as the chairman engaged in an ideological struggle within party leadership with rival revolutionary Liu Shaoqi.

Cultural Revolution

Zhang spent much of the Cultural Revolution shuttling between Beijing and Shanghai. He arrived in Shanghai in November 1966 at representing the Cultural Revolution Group in their push to stop Cao Diqiu from dispersing workers in Anting. He signed the "Five-Point Petition of Workers", and in February 1967 organized the Shanghai People's Commune with Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan, essentially overthrowing the city government and local party structure, becoming chairman of the city's Revolutionary Committee, a title that essentially combined the former posts of mayor and party secretary. This structure would persist until the latter post was restored in 1971.

In April 1969, he joined the Politburo, and in 1973 he was promoted to the Standing Committee therein. In January 1975, Zhang became the second-ranked Vice Premier, and penned "On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie" to promote the theoretical study of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Deng Xiaoping was the first-ranked Vice Premier at the time, but was out of the office by 1976. After the death of Zhou Enlai in January 1976, Zhang Chunqiao competed for the position of Premier with his political opponent Deng Xiaoping. However, Mao did not choose either of them. Instead, he chooses Hua Guofeng as the new Premier.

Arrest and death

Zhang was arrested along with the other members of the so-called "Gang of Four" in October 1976, as part of a conspiracy by Ye Jianying, Li Xiannian and the new party leader Hua Guofeng. He was expelled from the Communist Party in July 1977, and then sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in 1984, alongside Jiang Qing. His sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, and was further reduced to 18 years in December 1997.

In 1998, Zhang was released from prison to undergo medical treatment, then lived in obscurity in Shanghai until he died from pancreatic cancer in April 2005.[2]


  1. ^ Zhang was briefly the head of the Shanghai People's Commune in February 1967.


  1. ^ Chang, Parris H. (1978). Power and Policy in China (2nd ed.). University Park, Pa.: Penn State University Press. p. 100, and n21-22. ISBN 978-0-271-00544-7.
  2. ^ "China's Gang of Four member dies". 10 May 2005.

Reading list

Political offices Preceded byCao Diqiuas Mayor of Shanghai Chairman of the Revolutionary Committee of Shanghai 1967–1976 Succeeded bySu Zhenhua Preceded byDeng Xiaoping First-ranking Vice Premier of China 1976 Succeeded byLi Xiannian Party political offices Preceded byChen PixianVacant since 1967 Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Committee 1971–1976 Succeeded bySu Zhenhua Military offices Preceded byLi DeshengVacant since 1970 Director of the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army 1975–1976 Succeeded byWei GuoqingVacant until 1977