Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hua Guofeng Passed Away

The one-time "Wise Leader of China", Hua Guofeng (华国锋), has passed away with only a whimper in China. The official announcement only mentioned that he had served in "important positions within the [Communist] Party and the government" without mentioning what those positions were.

In 1976, the previously little-known provincial leader became the surprise successor of the "Great Leader" Chairman Mao Zedong. He assumed the positions of the Party Chairman, President of the nation, as well as the Premier. But his main accomplishment would be the arrest of the so-called Gang of Four that included Mao Zedong's own widow, barely a month after Mao Zedong's death. The coup also signaled the end of the decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

Hua Guofeng nonetheless chose to cling to the ideologue of Mao Zedong and saw his grasp of power eroding with the re-emergence of Deng Xiaoping. In December, 1978, Deng Xiaoping engineered a much less dramatic coup to depose Hua Guofeng. That action kicked off the great reform of China.

After losing the top leadership posts, Hua Guofeng lingered on as a nominal leader, making rare and insignificant appearances only at large Party Congresses. He was 87 years old.

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