Was Lin Biao guilty of plotting a coup?


Was Lin Biao guilty plotting a coup?Mao y Lin Biao 0


“To be in the company of a king is to be in the company of a tiger.” — Chinese proverb, quoted by Lin Biao“

After Lin Biao died..[t]he fanaticism faded. It had been as if we were all in a dream.”  (1)

Articles mentioning the accomplishments and activities of beloved Vice-Chairman and Minister of Defense Lin Biao were tedium. Like the Chairman, photos of the Vice-Chairman appeared with increasing regularity as their  linked cults of personality had ballooned as a result of the numerous power struggles of the past decades. Then, a loud silence. No mention of  Mao’s “closest comrade-in-arms” and “best student.” No explanation was forthcoming for the time being. A mysterious silence weighed heavily on the public mind. Big changes were signaled at the top. More power struggle? The public waited for news. Those at the very top were almost immediately informed that Lin Biao’s fortunes had radically reversed. On September 14, 1971, Zhou Enlai announced to a top-secret Politburo meeting the suspension of numerous high-ranking, unnamed military officials. Self-criticisms were demanded. This was followed by the arrest of 93 officers and purge of over 1,000 of those accused of having ties to Lin Biao. It was in October that the news trickled down to the lower levels of the Party hierarchy. It was a month later, in November, that the public received the grim news. In 1980 to 1981, at the show trial of the “Lin Biao and Gang of Four counter-revolutionary cliques,” the official account of the day’s events were recalled by the court:

“Lin Biao, after his bid to become Chairman of the State and usurp power by a ‘peaceful transition’ failed,  put into motion a plot for an armed counter-revolutionary coup d’etat.

In February 1971, Lin Biao and Ye Qun sent their son, Lin Liguo, to Shanghai, where he called together key members of the ‘Joint Fleet’ — as they described their counter-revolutionary special detachment — to work out details of the coup. The blueprint for the coup was called Outline for ‘Project 571.’ (‘571’ being a pun on the Chinese ‘armed uprising’ –Ed.)

Under the direct leadership of Lin Biao, Lin Liguo assigned Jiang Tengjiao to be ‘frontline commander’ for action in the Shanghai area. Their plans included attacking Chairman Mao’s special train with flame throwers and 40-mm. rocket-guns, dynamiting the Shufang railway bridge near Suzhou, over which the train was to pass, bombing the train from the air, etc.

When Lin Biao and Ye Qun learned on the evening of September 11 that their plot to assassinate Chairman Mao had fallen through and that the Chairman had already left Shanghai for Beijing, the two decided to fly south to Guangzhou with their collaborators to set up a separate ‘party central committee’ there and split the nation. They even plotted ‘a pincer attack from north and south in alliance with the Soviet Union.

A special plane was sent with Lin Liguo on board to a place close to the summer resort of Beidaihe for Lin Biao and Ye Qun to fly south. Late in the night of September 12, Lin Biao and his wife and son learned from their secret source that Premier Zhou Enlai had been making inquiries about the unauthorized sending of the special plane. The Lins hurriedly took off at 00:32 hours on September 13 for a foreign country. The plane crashed on the way. The wreckage and the bodies of all on board were found near Undur Khan in Mongolia.” (2)

The beloved Vice-Chairman had sought to kill their beloved Chairman. Mao’s “closest comrade-in-arms,”  “best student,” and  “designated successor” stood accused of betraying China, the Communist Party, and most unthinkable, Mao himself. The voice of Mao Zedong Thought sought to assassinate Mao. The symbol of Mao’s precious Cultural Revolution now stood accused of orchestrating a plot to seize power for himself. The public was confused and awestruck by the enormity of the events. What did this bode for the future? Was there to be more bloodletting in the Party? Army? On the streets? What did this say about the Cultural Revolution that Lin Biao had come to personally symbolize? Mao’s physician, Doctor Li Zhisui, states that Mao too was shaken deeply by the events:

“[H]is physical decline after the Lin Biao affair was dramatic… he became depressed. He took to his bed and lay there all day, saying and doing little. When he did get up, he seemed to have aged. His shoulders stooped, and he moved slowly. He walked with a shuffle. He could not sleep.

His blood pressure, normally 130 over 80, shot up to 180 over 100. His lower legs and feet swelled, especially at the ankles. He developed a chronic cold and cough and began spitting up heavy amounts of phlegm. His lungs were badly congested. None of the tests I ran indicated pathogenic bacteria, including the infection in his lungs. This was a sign of declining resistance. His heart was slightly enlarged and his heartbeat was irregular… On November 20, 1971… As Mao escorted the North Vietnamese premier to the door, the cameras revealed Mao’s shuffling walk. His legs, people said, looked like wobbly wooden sticks.” (3)

Mao’s health reportedly never fully recovered from hearing the news. What of the health of the revolution?

The Cultural Revolution decade, roughly the last decade of Mao’s life from 1965 to 1976, has still not been fully understood. What exists is a swamp of conflicting and incomplete narratives that span the last decade of Mao’s life. And, the Lin Biao episode is at the heart of it all. The Lin Biao incident is arguably the most important, single event of the Cultural Revolution decade. It is possibly even more important than Mao’s own death in 1976. Yet Lin Biao’s death raises more questions than answers. The incident is shrouded by state-sponsored mystery and sectarian interests. Like any controversial political event, there is no consensus among scholars about what happened and its meaning. The “official” history has been re-written several times as political winds at the top shifted in China. Today, another rewriting is happening. This time it is from the bottom-up. Scholars are taking a new look at the events now that time has allowed the topic to cool. Also retired, aged participants or the relatives of those disgraced hope to clear their family names by seeking to lessen their own or family’s participation in events, to shift blame away from themselves or their relatives. Recent accounts have shed some light on the Lin Biao event, but just as earlier narratives were colored by the interests of the regime’s police apparatus and the contending political factions, recent narratives are colored by another set of obvious biases. Some hope their own, or at least their family’s, fortunes can be reversed if Lin Biao is acquitted criminally and politically. This is the case with Lin Biao’s Air Force Chief Wu Faxian’s daughter Jin Qiu’s account of events, for example. It is also the case with Wang Li’s account of the Cultural Revolution. The case against Lin Biao was never simply a question of whether he is guilty of the charges, the individual actions, that he is accused of. Did he plot to kill Mao, for example? The other question is the political one. What politics led Lin Biao to his demise? Whether Lin Biao had acted as an assassin or not is not as important than the question of whether or not the politics he was pushing were treasonous and counter-revolutionary or revolutionary. It is this latter question that fired Chinese political debate from Lin Biao’s death to the show trial under the Deng Xiaoping regime in 1980 and 1981. The question of Lin Biao’s criminal and political guilt was taken, and continues to be taken, by most as a given even though the evidence against him falls as a house of cards when examined closely. That it has taken so long for revolutionaries to address these issues speaks to the sad state of the so-called international communist movement. Repeating police narratives from when Mao was alive, as latter-day Maoists often do, is hardly more illuminating than repeating police narratives from the period following Mao’s death. Sectarian dogma is sectarian dogma, be it from 1974 or 1981. The defeat of socialism in China is closely connected to the fall of Lin Biao, which represented a major turning point, a major loss of revolutionary momentum, a loss of heart amongst the people in China and globally. Socialism does not exist today. The last great waves of revolution have been defeated. Why? If we are to do better, to advance further in our march to Leading Light Communism, the end of all oppression, then we must be able to answer the hard questions. A big part of answering this question is getting the history right by learning to deal with history honestly. Lin Biao was accused of numerous charges. As the case against him developed, the charge that became central was the charge that Lin Biao was plotting a coup against the regime. It is this charge that will be examined here.

Conflicting narratives

Today, there are three general kinds of narratives about the Lin Biao incident: 1. Maoist narratives, 2. narratives that follow the official line of capitalist regime in China, 3. new narratives. The first kind of narrative is mostly dead today. It lives mostly in the heads of a diminishing number of Maoist sects and online activists. It is the main narrative expressed in the Chinese media from around the Tenth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1973 through the death of Mao in September 1976. It continued through the early Hua Guofeng period to about January 1979. This Maoist narrative is one that came into being during the last years of Mao’s life. This narrative was not a static one, but only fully emerged after political struggles between 1971 through the Tenth Congress in 1973 until Mao s death in 1976. By the Tenth Congress, the narrative of Lin Biao’s alleged coup and the reasons behind it were entered into Party history as the tenth two-line struggle between the revolutionary line, represented by Mao, and the revisionist line. The Maoist narrative emerges as a kind of damage control for Mao, the leftover left known as “the Gang of Four,” and the Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao’s public image was so tied to Mao, leftism, and the Cultural Revolution that is became necessary to find a way to stop Lin Biao’s disgrace from tarnishing the Maoist movement and the Cultural Revolution as a whole. After all, Lin Biao was so close to the Cultural Revolution that he had come to symbolize the movement as a whole. Lin Biao was regularly praised as “Mao’s best student,”   “closest comrade-in-arms,”   “handpicked successor,”  etc. Lin Biao had been a driving force in popularizing Maoism, Mao Zedong Thought. The main directives and speeches of the Cultural Revolution were usually delivered by Lin Biao, not Mao. Not only did Lin Biao deliver the Report to the Ninth Congress in April 1969, at the height of Maoist influence, the Communist Party’s constitution was re-written to place Lin Biao as Mao’s official successor. It was not just Mao who supported Lin Biao’s position as successor, but other leading Maoists, Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao, for example, agreed that Lin Biao should be officially written into the constitution. (4) Lin Biao had pursued a policy of closely associating himself with Mao, at least publicly. For years, the Chinese media had sought to link both Mao and Lin Biao. But, now the winds had changed. With Lin Biao disgraced, those rightists and revisionists who had opposed the Maoist policies now sought to use Lin Biao’s disgrace to tarnish the Cultural Revolution as a whole and its remaining partisans, including leaders like Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao, who would come to be known derisively as part of “the Gang of Four.” The revisionists sought to reverse the tide against the left. It became important for the remaining Maoists to break the link in the public mind between Lin Biao and the Cultural Revolution. In terms of criminal liability, the Maoist narrative is mostly in agreement with the capitalist, official one that emerges during the show trial under Deng Xiaoping’s regime in 1980 to 1981. In both narratives, Lin Biao is presented as power-hungry opportunist who aimed to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat and establish a feudal despotism. However, the main difference between the official account in Mao’s last year and the account from 1979 onward is that Lin Biao, in the earlier Maoist account,  is not ultra-leftist, but rather a case of  “left in form, right in essence,” “pseudo-leftist, ultra-rightist.”  Even though this explanation, that the main voice of the Cultural Revolution was not a leftist, but really an “ultra-rightist,” struck most as far-fetched, Mao threw his weight behind it in an effort to protect the Cultural Revolution and what remained of the left. Mao settled the debate for the time being.

It is not surprising that the Maoist political interpretation of Lin Biao’s errors would not last long within the Chinese establishment or street. The interpretation did not conform to what people understood of Lin Biao. It was Mao’s force, not force of argument, that kept it alive as long as Mao was. And when he died, so shortly did the Maoist interpretation, only living on in a few dogmatic Maoist sects. After Mao died, the remaining left was easily outmaneuvered. Lin Biao’s remaining generals, Chen Boda and “the Gang of Four” shortly appeared together at the show trial of the “Lin Biao and Jiang Qing Counter-revolutionary Cliques” hosted by Deng Xiaoping’s capitalist regime from 1980 through 1981. Most of the criminal allegations remained the same against Lin Biao, but there was a reevaluation in the roles of the various generals who had allegedly participated in the plot. The generals were no longer directly implicated in the coup. They were shortly freed as a result. With the fall of the remaining Maoists after Mao’s death in September of 1976, evidence concocted to serve the Maoist agenda was, at least in part, discounted. Even so, the main conclusion stood regarding the basic events surrounding Lin Biao’s alleged coup. The biggest change was the political verdict. When Lin Biao was first disgraced in 1971, the right and revisionists, Zhou Enlai and his allies, sought to call into question the entire Cultural Revolution and undermine the remaining left, “the Gang of Four.”  Momentum built up around having Lin Biao’s errors labeled  “ultra-left,”  “anarchist,” “a priori-istic,”  “lacking mass line,”  etc. Although Mao’s intervention had temporarily quashed this criticism, it would reemerge as Party history was re-written once again by Deng Xiaoping’s efforts in 1979. The Deng Xiaoping regime re-wrote history to reduce the entire Cultural Revolution to efforts by ultra-leftists who were so power hungry that they cared little if they hurt the Chinese economy, the standard of living of the masses, loyal Party veterans, war heroes, etc. According to the right and revisionists, in their quest to seize total power for themselves, the “ultra-left” would destroy socialism and take China back to its feudal, economically-backward past. At the show trial, “the Gang of Four” stood accused, like Lin Biao’s clique, of plotting their own ultra-left coup. This kind of narrative is the most popular today and continues to form the basis of the revisionist, capitalist Chinese regime’s official account.

Other narratives have emerged in recent years. There are a growing number of people who are suspicious of the popular accounts. In China itself, there is growing skepticism surrounding the state narratives both the Maoist and capitalist ones. This skepticism has only increased as distance from the events has increased. As political tensions have lessened as decades have passed. More and more people have spoken up who lived through those turbulent years. Some of the new narratives are self-serving, written to exonerate the authors or their families. This is often accomplished by laying most or almost all of the blame on Mao, who is portrayed as a puppet master throwing this faction against that faction, left against right, then right against left, for no other reason than securing his own hold on power and protecting his own legacy. In some of these narratives, the protagonists, including Lin Biao, become hapless pawns in Mao’s drama. These narratives tend to dismiss the political struggles as mostly window dressing for Mao’s ego or erratic behavior. These narratives often seek to lessen the guilt of the protagonists by drawing a sharp distinction between their public leftist politics and their private rightist politics. In such narratives, the private politics of the actors can only be surmised through memories and anecdotes. And, surprise, surprise, the private politics of the fallen leftists happen to have always been in line with the modernist, economist, conservative regime that came to power after Mao, a regime that still wields substantial influence over the futures of those involved in the events and their families. Although these narratives have done a good job questioning the reality of the criminal charges against Lin Biao, they often do a poor job looking at the political side of the question, which is highly suspect.  Air Force Chief Wu Faxian’s daughter Jin Qiu has written one such account that recasts Lin Biao as a Zhou Enlai-type, as someone working behind the scenes against the excesses of the Cultural Revolution. Wang Li’s telling of events is another one that definitely ingratiates himself to the current regime given his high-profile role within the left.  Our view is that, whether from the Maoist years or capitalist years, the official narratives are grossly inaccurate. These official narratives are ones that were shaped by police and sectarian interests with little regard for the truth. In addition, the self-serving narratives appearing more recently have to be seen for what they are. Even so, there is a truth to be unearthed. The story cannot be reduce to the whims of Mao.

Lin Biao and the Cultural Revolution

Lin Biao enters politics as part of the power struggles that occurred toward the end of the Great Leap. There was a debate about how to sum up the problems of the Great Leap. The rightists and revisionists that had gathered around Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping saw the failures as stemming from Maoist fanaticism and populism. The Maoists, while acknowledging problems, held that the basic direction emphasizing ideology, egalitarianism, collectivism, social experiment, populism, and enthusiasm was correct. Thus began a tug-of-war within the leadership. The revisionists and rightists sought to toss the collective economy, the Maoists sought to preserve it. As part of these struggles, Mao had lost his ability to rely on the Party to implement his radical policies. Mao had lost his authority in the Party. The revisionists under Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping had control of the Party machine.  As part of these struggles, the Maoists were able to dislodge one of their main critics, Defense Minister Peng Duhuai in 1959. As the new Defense Minister, Lin Biao made sure that the army would be reorganized around Maoist lines. Lin Biao took the army back to its roots as a people’s army. The army was not simply to be a fighting force, but an economic, social and political one as well. Many of the Maoist programs and policies that would later become part of the Cultural Revolution were first implemented in Lin Biao’s military. The army was a kind of experimental ground for campaigns before they were implemented over society as a whole. The cult of personality around Mao, and also Lin Biao, was promoted heavily in the military in the years leading up to the Cultural Revolution in order to ensure loyalty. “The  little red book,”  Quotations from Chairman Mao, was first prepared for the military by Lin Biao. Later, this book would be distributed throughout society, becoming more and more popular during the Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao promoted the “three constantly read articles.”  Like many campaigns that began in the military, the popularization of Mao’s  “Serve the People,” “In Memory of Norman Bethune,”  and  “The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains” was later promoted to society as a whole during the Cultural Revolution. It was Lin Biao who would elevate Mao’s theories as a creative, third, superior stage of Marxism as part of these efforts to increase ideological education. During the Cultural Revolution, the army would serve as a model that the Maoist media would praise and encourage the masses to emulate. The instruction to put  “Politics in command!,” which during the Cultural Revolution was promoted throughout society, was originally part of Lin Biao’s “Four Firsts” policy in the army in 1959.  The policy elevated man over weaponry, elevated political over other work, ideological work over routine work, living ideas over book study. By design, the “Four Firsts” and “Three Eight work style” both had an impact far beyond just the military. Lin Biao’s army strove for an egalitarian, communist ideal that would be embraced by the Cultural Revolutionaries. As part of this, the army also eliminated outward display of rank. Under Lin Biao, the military press pushed society to strive to reach communism. Mao, publicly, and even privately, was impressed by Lin Biao’s efforts and hailed his achievements as “great.” (5)

Mao warned that there were capitalists within the Party itself. In the lead up to the Cultural Revolution, more and more, the Maoists came to characterize the struggle between themselves and their opposition as a struggle between classes. The struggle was not an non-antagonistic one that could be resolved, rather it was an antagonistic struggle requiring one side to eliminate the other. The Maoists, on the whole, represented the proletariat, the push to reach communism, ending all oppression. The revisionists sought to modernize, to match the West’s productive capacity and consumerist culture. Today’s China of sweatshops is the result of the revisionist legacy. As the mid-1960s approached, the compromise between the two factions that was reached at the end of the Great Leap was falling apart. A militant struggle erupted between the Maoists and the revisionists. The Maoists were led by Mao and Lin Biao and their closest subordinates. One observer claims it was Lin Biao himself who came up with list of those who would lead the Maoist Cultural Revolution. Mao himself was reportedly pleased with Lin Biao’s choices for membership in a new Cultural Revolution Group charged with heading up the power struggles, leading the Cultural Revolution. (6) Chen Boda, Mao’s personal secretary and ghostwriter for decades, came to head up group. Mao once said of Chen Boda, “No revolution can proceed without theory. Chen Boda is one of the very few theoreticians our party has.” (7) Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, was appointed its deputy head. A group of young radical writers who had worked with Chen Boda as polemicists were also appointed. Wang Li, Qi Benyu, and Guan Feng would come to have a close relationship to both Chen Boda and Jiang Qing. Zhang Chunqiao, a Maoist official and Yao Wenyuan, a literary critic, both from Shanghai would also serve as members. Xie Fuzhi, Minister of Public Security, was appointed. Kang Sheng, the head of the secret police, also joined the group. Zhou Enlai, who would come to run the state, was also appointed. Others were appointed, but did little. Almost all of the members were associated with the left with the exception of Zhou Enlai, and possibly Kang Sheng, both Mao loyalists with unclear politics. The Cultural Revolution under the Maoist leadership begins in 1966 and ends with the Ninth Congress in April of 1969. However, since the struggles did not end in 1969, people often refer to the entire decade up to Mao s death, to 1976, as “the Cultural Revolution Decade.”  This decade would be a bloody struggle between numerous factions within the Party. It would lead to the fall of many of the highest-ranking and most powerful of China’s political elite, including Lin Biao himself in September of 1971.

At the onset of the Cultural Revolution, since the revisionists controlled the Party and much of the state bureaucracy, the Maoists needed to find a way around them. Lin Biao’s military would play the key role in launching the Cultural Revolution. The Maoists would come to rely on Lin Biao’s military as the key institution to push their political line. Lin Biao’s military, with its political department, its cultural institutions, its alternative media, its involvement in the economy, its guns, etc. would serve as a kind of dual power that the Maoists could rely on against the revisionist controlled institutions. The revisionists could thwart the Maoists in other institutions, but the military — at least at the center, where Lin Biao’s power reigned — was loyal. Mao could bypass the Party and state by using Lin Biao’s dual military institutions. The army gave Mao the key institutional base from which to retake power. Mao went around the revisionist bureaucracies by relying on the army and using his popularity and appealing directly to the masses. Mao — almost always using Lin Biao as his stand-in — called on the masses, the students and workers, to rise up against the Party. Rebel students and workers, Red Guards, took to the streets as huge mass movements from 1966 to 1968. Not only did Lin Biao helped set the stage, he used the muscle of the military to create a protective bubble so that the mass movements could run their course. His Maoist pretorian guard, led by Lin Biao, held back, as best as they could, those who would suppress the chaos that was unleashed by the Maoists. As the mass movements ran their course, as the Party and state were torn apart, the army,  the pillar of the dictatorship of the proletariat  would come to fill the power vacuum. As Mao liked to say, there is no creation without destruction.

As the Cultural Revolution unfolded, the mass movements grew bolder and bolder. They would come to target the Chairman of the State, Liu Shaoqi and Vice-Chairman of the Party Deng Xiaoping. They came under increasing criticism from the masses. Both had been involved in suppressing the student movement, sometimes violently, in the previous months. As Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping fell, Lin Biao rose. By July 1966, Liu Shaoqi had lost his power. In the next year, he would be made to stand before the students and answer for his crimes of suppressing the student movement. Red Guard Kuai Dafu, working closely with the Cultural Revolution Group, would lead the campaign against him. By 1968, Liu Shaoqi would be officially stripped of all his positions. Liu Shaoqi was labeled as a  the top capitalist roader in the Party  and as a traitor.  Deng Xiaoping also fell as the  second biggest capitalist roader,  although Mao intervened to save Deng Xiaoping from being purged. Instead, Deng Xiaoping was sent to be punished through re-education and labor. He was sent to work on tractors on a collective farm. Deng Xiaoping retained his Party membership as a result of Mao’s personal intervention. Along with the fall of Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, many of their subordinates and associates also fell. There was a huge power vacuum in the Party. As early as July 1966, Lin Biao had come to replace Liu Shaoqi in the power structure, if not in official titles. Mao would come to name him the only Vice-Chairman of the Party. Mao appointed Lin Biao as his official successor.

The mass movements not only sought to widen the purge of the revisionists, but they also came to fight each other. The mass movements came more and more into conflict with rightist who were loyal to Mao like Zhou Enlai and with conservative military leaders, especially in the provinces where Lin Biao’s power was weaker. This led to the Wuhan incident in July of 1967. General Chen Zaidao suppressed the radicals in his province. He mutinied against the Maoist leaders in Beijing. Although he was officially removed temporarily, the tide was turning against the mass movements. More and more were turning against the movements as the violence spread.  The British mission was ransacked by Red Guards. The Foreign Ministry was taken over. Foreign diplomats were beaten. Radicals began calling for the ousting of Zhou Enlai and they called on the masses to “drag out” military leaders in the provinces who opposed the Cultural Revolution. For Mao, things were spinning too far out of control. Throughout the end of 1967 and into 1968, the student and worker movements were ended. Zhang Chunqiao now called for the Red Guards to be disciplined by workers organized into work teams — not unlike Liu Shaoqi’s earlier reaction to the student movement. However, the main role of ending the factional violence often fell on Lin Biao’s army, the strongest and functioning arm of the state. The power of the mass movements was turned over to Revolutionary Committees. The Ninth Congress was to be held in 1969 with power firmly in the hands of the Maoists. It was at the Ninth Congress of the Communist Party where Lin Biao would be at the peak of his power. The single biggest power bloc at the Congress was the military. It fell on Lin Biao to read the Ninth Congress Report. It was there that Lin Biao would be officially written into the Party’s constitution as the successor to Mao.

There were deep divisions beneath the surface at the Ninth Congress in April of 1969. Beneath the surface, new power struggles were breaking out within the Maoist camp. Even before the Ninth Congress, many junior Maoists had fallen with Mao’s approval in order for Mao to appease conservative elements. Mao, anticipating future struggles, had begun to reconnect with the politically-exiled “Adverse Current” that had been the main opposition to the Cultural Revolution. Mao and Zhou Enlai assigned the fallen rightists and revisionists — Chen Yi, Ye Jianying, Xu Xiangqian and Nei Rongzhen — the task of developing a new foreign policy that was not as limiting as the model associated with Lin Biao’s global people’s war. (8) Struggles came to the surface at the Second Plenum at Lushan in 1970 between two top Maoists, Chen Boda and Zhang Chunqiao. Mao ended up siding against Chen Boda, who had become associated with Lin Biao. After the conference, Mao would begin to move more openly against Lin Biao. Mao took a tour of the provinces in order to openly seek the support of that part of the military who had opposed the Cultural Revolution and Lin Biao. Shortly after, in September of 1971, Lin Biao dies in a mysterious crash and is accused of plotting a coup.

In the years following his death, many of those policies of the Cultural Revolution that had been associated with Lin Biao were reversed. Many of the policies attributed to Lin Biao, especially his doctrine of global people’s war was now rejected for more conservative policies. The leftist economic policies of “the Flying Leap,” associated with Chen Boda and Lin Biao, were reversed in favor of the compromise position reached between the Maoists and revisionists prior to the Cultural Revolution. Many of those top leaders that had been purged to solidify Lin Biao’s position were now rehabilitated. Those who had been disgraced as “the Adverse Current” were now praised again. Mao even rehabilitated the “second biggest capitalist” Deng Xiaoping. Much of the Cultural Revolution was reversed and the power of Zhou Enlai and the right was rising. The only Maoists that remained to oppose the revisionists were the Shanghai group — Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen — that would later come to be known as “the Gang of Four.”  Although Lin Biao’s fall allowed the Shanghai Group to rise, their real power did not correspond to their official titles. Although they had impressive titles, impressive positions in the power structure, their power was almost wholly dependent on Mao’s prestige. And Mao’s support of the left had been declining since the height of the Cultural Revolution in 1967. Even so, this leftover left would come into conflict with the ascendent revisionists throughout the 1970s. In this power struggle, Lin Biao’s image and memory would play a key part. Both sides attacked the disgraced Lin Biao as a way to attack each other. The right sought to label Lin Biao as an “ultra-leftist,” to use Lin Biao’s close association with the Cultural Revolution to tarnish the movement as a whole and its remaining activists. The left sought to break the connection between Lin Biao and the Cultural Revolution. They sought to have him labeled as an “ultra-rightist” in order to attack Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping. It is in the context of these political struggles that the investigation into the Lin Biao incident was carried out. Understanding these struggles is the key to understanding the origin of the fabrications surrounding Lin Biao. It is in this context that the evidence against Lin Biao is invented.

A look at the evidence and events

Much of the evidence against Lin Biao was produced by the Central Case Examination Group, a group headed by rightist like Zhou Enlai, but also containing leftists like Zhang Chunqiao. It is reported that the investigators coerced testimony by both carrot and stick. Li Wenpu received a preferential deal for his testimony, whereas Wu Faxian’s treatment an example of the latter. (9) (10) The confessions are flags in the political wind.  The testimony, mainly confessions from Lin Biao’s son Lin Liguo’s associates, bears the marks of the political struggles occurring at the time. In other words, the confessions themselves are inconsistent, but fit changing political winds. Thus they are very suspect. Later, at the show trial in 1980 to 1981, those charged with crimes sought leniency by giving their accusers what they wanted. Chen Boda, who had spent years lingering in prison, gave his accusers what they demanded, not defending himself at all. So too was this the case for Lin Biao’s generals. Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen of “the Gang of Four,” who had just been arrested in 1976, broke before their accusers. Zhang Chunqiao, dying of throat cancer, sat silently in protest. Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, pointed the finger back at her accusers, and at Mao himself. The trial was a stage. In more recent times, one-time Maoist superstars prostrate themselves before the capitalist regime in the media in efforts to find favor. This appears to be what happened in Wang Li’s case, for example. At the time of the Lin Biao incident and at the show trials, there was little due process. It is not surprising that those accused of being connected with the Lin Biao incident gave their accusers what they wanted not only in terms of the criminal side of the case, but also the political side. By the time of the show trials in 1980 and 1981, the Lin Biao re-trial, many of the members of the Special Group, the original investigators while Mao was alive, were themselves dead and in disgrace or themselves charged now that “the Gang of Four” had fallen. Thus much of the evidence collected was put aside to suit the political climate. By the time of the re-trial, Lin Biao was no longer judged an “ultra-rightist,” but an “ultra-leftist” along with many of the previous investigators who themselves were now accused. In a context where there is little due process, where political struggles are life and death, and where those charged with investigating the incident have a significant stake in the outcome, we should be very suspicious of the evidence.

Forgeries and false confessions

The earliest documents issued by the Central Committee on the incident failed to mention what would later become the key part of the story. The earlier documents from October to November 1971, issued after the incident contain inconsistencies and fail to mention anything specifically about the coup later said to be described in “Outline for Project 571,” a document said to be authored by the plotters outlining their plan.  The Chinese characters  “571”  are a homonym for “military uprising.” The earliest documents are based on confessions from associates of Lin Biao’s son, Lin Liguo. The earliest documents claimed that Lin Biao was a traitor to the country, assassin of Mao, and conspirator who planned to establish a separate government in Guangzhou. Early  documents hardly mention the coup. On September 12, 1971, in “Central Committee Document No. 60, Communique Concerning Lin Biao’s  September 12  Anti-Party Incident,”  the specific allegation of a coup appears mostly as an afterthought. For example, in the document there is no description of an organized coup attempt involving a seizure of power by military units. Rather, there is the allegation that there was a failed attempt on Mao’s life in an attempt to blow up a train in which Chairman Mao was riding near Shanghai. (11) The plot against Mao is mentioned only briefly in one sentence. The majority of the document is dedicated to describing Lin Biao’s alleged treason of surrendering to the enemy, fleeing to the Soviet Union, stealing secret documents and the Trident plane. The coup is only mentioned in the last sentence only to assert it had been foiled. It was not until two months later, in November 1971, that another Central Committee document mentions the  discovery of the coup described by the Outline. This suggests that those who had made the earliest confessions had not seen the Outline despite their later confessions. That the Central Committee had to follow up with another document describing Lin Biao’s coup suggests that they were having trouble connecting Lin Biao’s attempt to flee with the major crime, the coup. (12) In other words, the coup was not the central theme of the Lin Biao narrative from the beginning. Its centrality evolved. And when people found the coup story hard to believe, more documents were forged and more  confessions  obtained to fit the emerging narrative. One scholar asks:

“A critical examination of the official version of the Lin Biao crisis reveals some remarkable contradictions. The earlier documents from September 1971 say nothing about secret contacts with the USSR, and they are only mentioned briefly in passing in 1972. Before the summer 1973 the Center’s circulars maintain that these events had been concentrated on 12 September, and it was only afterwards that they started to mention Lin’s call for a coup d’etat on 8 September… Had the original version of  with events concentrated on 12 September, met with Party cadres’ skepticism so that corrections were needed?” (13)

It is also significant to note that Mao’s doctor, Li Zhisui remembers that Mao did not seem to fear for his life as they gathered in the Great Hall of the People as Lin Biao was said to be fleeing. Doctor Li Zhisui himself throws suspicion on the emerging coup story: “Chinese radar was tracking the plane’s route, and reports on its location continued to come to Wang Dongxing and Zhou Enlai. It was heading northwest, in the direction of the Soviet Union. Later, the official documents describing Lin’s flight said Lin’s original intention was to fly south to Guangzhou to set up a separate government. I never heard that on the mourning of September 13.” (14) Mao’s doctor, who was close to Mao as the events occurred, states that “I do not believe Mao ever believed Lin Biao might be plotting to assassinate him and seize power for himself.” (15)

The coup described in the Outline is only mentioned after November 1971, after the Outline is obtained  by the Special Group. (16) The Outline was supposedly found on a table a month after the incident at the Air Force Academy where Lin Liguo and his associates used to gather. It was sent to Zhou Enlai reportedly on October 9, 1971. He showed it to Mao. Zhou Enlai was reportedly hesitant about releasing the document. Also Mao reportedly did not believe the Outline to be Lin Biao’s plan but decided to release it anyway. What supposedly links the Outline to Lin Biao is the confession of Li Weixin. It is claimed that the Outline was the result of a March 20, 1971 meeting between Zhou Yuchi, Yu Xinye and Li Weixin in Shanghai. Lin Liguo is said to have told them to draft a plan on the orders of Lin Biao. According to the official history, Yu Xinye drafted the plan. However, even if one accepts the questionable official history that Yu Xinye authored the plan, no link has ever been made connecting the plan to Lin Biao. The only connection is that Yu Xinye was a colleague of Lin Liguo. Furthermore, that the Outline finds its way into the confessions so late suggests that the confessions linking the Outline to Lin Liguo and Lin Biao were themselves produced for just such a purpose. In other words, had such a plan really existed, the coup that it describes surely would have been the central story from the beginning. Instead, both the Outline and confessions supposedly authenticating the Outline arrive late on the scene to fit the emerging narrative. And, like the Outline itself, the confession of Li Weixin and others is obtained by the Special Group, known for lack of due process. (17) One person who had doubts about the coup story is Mao’s physician, who states: “I do not know whether the report detailing Lin Biao’s conspiracy was accurate. Zhou Enlai, after all, had a personal stake in the outcome.” (18)  That the plan emerges to suit the evolving needs of the political struggles in the post-Lin Biao period suggests that it was written after the Lin Biao incident.

There was a reason that the regime had to charge Lin Biao with more than simply trying to assassinate Mao or charge him as a traitor for fleeing, etc. Those charges do not justify the kind of purge that the regime sought to enact against Lin Biao’s followers in the military. The regime used Lin Biao’s disgrace as a way to clean house, as a way to push the military out of politics, which had been one of Mao’s goals since the Ninth Congress in April of 1969. What appears to have happened is that very early on the regime   decides to use the crisis for political ends, for a purge of Lin Biao’s supporters. However, the regime had trouble establishing the connection between Lin Biao’s act of fleeing and the coup story that was to be used to justify a wider purge. Because of this, more and more documents are issued to justify the regime’s wider actions. It is interesting to note that the 1980-1981 version of events differs from the 1971-1972 version. The 1980-1981 show trial does not convict Lin Biao’s generals of the act of “trying to establish a separatist government in Guangzhou.” The 1980-1981 show trial also repudiated the original charge the generals were involved in attempts to assassinate Mao or stage a coup. The reason for the discrepancy between the two sets of accusations is obvious. By 1980, the problem of getting Lin Biao’s followers out of power and getting the military out of civilian politics had been solved by the earlier purge immediately following Lin Biao’s death. There was no reason to maintain the false charges against the already fallen generals in 1980-1981.

Military knowledge lacking in plot

One of the first things one notices is that the Outline isn’t much of a coup plan at all, but rather appears to be 24 small pages of garbled notes. (19) One of the first things that is striking is the lack of detail or military knowledge contained in the Outline. The Outline is far from a serious plan for a coup. If Lin Biao was aiming to pull off a coup in a country as big as China, one would expect that he would have developed something more sophisticated than a few garbled notes on post-its. On the outset of the Cultural Revolution, when there were fears of a coup or counter-coup, for and against the Maoists, Lin Biao was able to outmaneuver Luo Ruiqing who was then Chief of Staff of the Army. In that heated context, Lin Biao was able to replace the Beijing garrison with troops loyal to himself. Lin Biao, along with Mao, laid the groundwork for the Cultural Revolution to seize power from the Party elite who opposed them. Lin Biao was not unfamiliar with such military preparations. At the onset of the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao had transformed the army into a kind of dual power — new media, new art and culture, new political education, etc. — to bypass the old state. Lin Biao was known as a brilliant general who relied on complex strategies to attain his victories. What is found in the Outline is far too clumsy to have been a real plan penned by China’s “greatest general.”  Daughter of deposed head of the air force, Jin Qui states:

“Whoever drafted the plan had limited knowledge of military tactics and organization. For example, the  basic strengths  of the conspirators were said to be in the Fourth and Firth Air Force Armies, the Ninth, Eighteenth, and Thirty-four Air Force Divisions, the Twenty-first Tank Regiment, and, strangely, the Civil Aeronautics Administration. Thus, the estimate of the author of the plot was that no more than half a dozen military units would support the coup. It is difficult to imagine that Lin, who had commanded a million troops and had intricate knowledge of the requirements of every military situation, would accept such an estimate of forces as sufficient to carry out a coup. It is equally doubtful that Lin would have relied so heavily on the air force to ensure success.”  (20)

The plan sought to establish a rival regime in Guangzhou. Neither Ding Sheng, the commander of the region, nor Liu Xingyuan, the regional political commissar, were especially connected to Lin Biao, although they had been Chief of Staff Huang Yongsheng’s subordinates since he was from Guangzhou. When Mao sought to shore up support against Lin Biao and Huang Yongsheng, Mao toured Guangzhou to speak with Ding Sheng. It was Ding Sheng that Mao trusted to “test the wind” with Ding Sheng’s subordinates, asking him to gather opinions to the question: “what.. if Huang Yongsheng [Lin Biao’s Chief of Staff] were ousted?” Although shocked by Mao’s questions and statements, Ding Sheng states, “After that, we went to the Dishuidong at Shaoshen to write down what Mao had said. Then we returned to our provinces to transmit the major points of Mao’s talks.” (21) In addition, in the fall and winter of 1970 to 1971, there was reported opposition to Lin Biao’s leftist economics in Guangzhou. Lin Biao was associated with a renewed Maoist economic push to rebuild the collective economy, reinvigorate the people’s communes, and “learn from Dazhai,” a model Maoist community. There was a warning in the Guangzhou press about the “mentality of stagnation, of pessimism and of the attitude that one cannot achieve anything of significance,” and also, “a false pride and self-satisfaction,” which could “prevent people really learning from the Dazhai example.” (22) Guangzhou was the scene of opposition to Lin Biao’s efforts to rebuild the collective economy. Hardly a good place for Lin Biao to set up shop for a rival Central Committee. It says a lot that both Ding Sheng and Liu Xingyuan retained their posts in the post-Lin Biao period. The only supporter Lin Biao had in the region was Gu Tongzhou, the regional Air Force Chief of Staff, and a paltry one hundred personnel of the Guangzhou fighting detachment supposedly associated with the “joint fleet” of the coup. To account for this obvious disconnect between the Outline and reality, some versions of the narrative sought to reinterpret Guangzhou not as the headquarters of the rival regime as the Outline states, but claim Guangzhou was to be used as a springboard to flee to Hong Kong. (23) This effort to make the Outline seem more plausible should tell us just how implausible the literal letter of the Outline is. And, the same problems remain. This casts doubt that either Lin Biao or Lin Liguo or anyone with close knowledge of Lin Biao’s loyalty network had much to do with writing the Outline. This likely even precludes the circle around Lin Liguo who are alleged to have been ordered to write the plan. Surely they would have been expected to know something of the relative strengths and weaknesses of Lin Biao’s support outside Beijing if they were entrusted to write a plan for a coup. Qi Jin speculates that Lin Liguo may have asked his associates to begin making plans for various plots against Mao. She speculates that Lin Liguo’s subordinates were caught in a bind. They were not serious about a coup or killing Mao, but they also could not refuse the order of their patron. The Outline, so she speculates, should be seen as an attempt to appease their boss, but not as a serious plan. Although a better explanation than the official account, it still does not make sense. Again, it still does not explain the vast disconnect between reality and the Outline. Surely they would have had some knowledge on which to produce a plan. They would not randomly decide on Guangzhou as the location of the new rival regime. The lack of knowledge about Lin Biao’s actual strength suggests that the Outline was written by someone who was further away from Lin Biao and Lin Liguo. It also suggests that the author was not sophisticated enough to foresee this glaring problem in the document.

Similarly, the plans for the assassination of Mao contained in the Outline and confessions have an adventure book, James Bond quality. Mao was to be killed in very exotic ways. Numerous plans to assassinate Mao were produced, including one to flamethrower his train. Another to use heavy anti-aircraft guns to fire point-blank at the train. Inquiries about chemical weapons were allegedly made also. There was one plan to simply use a pistol, but the majority of the plans are overly complicated and obviously impractical with many factors out of the assassin’s control, with numerous points where things could backfire. These plots are not the work of a serious military mind. It hardly seems that Lin Biao, if he were out to kill Mao, would entrust such a delicate operation to such amateurs. Instead, like the coup story, the assassination allegations seem doubtful.  (24)  There is also the another part of the Outline that stands in need of clarification:

“A small gang of polished men have become remorseless and despotic; moreover, they control military power and make enemies on all sides.”  (25)

Since it was Lin Biao and his generals who occupied the key positions of power, it is hard to see what Lin Biao would be getting at with such a complaint if he were indeed the author. One of the key complaints of the post-Lin Biao period was that too much power had been allowed to collect in Lin Biao’s hands. This is just another part of the Outline that stands in need of clarification. However, if it were written by someone posing as Lin Biao, written by someone without deep knowledge of the inner-workings of the military, this is the kind of confused complaint one might expect.

Coup plot praises enemies of China, omits the West

Common sense: If one were planning a coup, one would be sure to cast one’s actions as those of a patriot, not as a traitor. The document is so amateurish that it goes out of its way to cast almost all of China’s main enemies in good light. The Soviet Union, which was coming to be perceived as China’s main enemy above all others on the world stage, is cast in a positive light. In addition, the Outline even contains positive references to the fascists, both the Guomindang and, more shockingly, the Japanese. The document states:

“The confrontation between China and the Soviet Union is giving the Soviet Union a hard time; our action will have the support of the Soviet Union.” (26)

These are strange words for someone who had built a whole career opposing Soviet revisionism. After the Great Leap, there were many political struggles left unsolved. There was much tension beneath the surface. As part of the fallout from the Great Leap, Lin Biao replaces Peng Duhuai as Minister of Defense. Peng Duhuai had been a critic of Maoist economic policies during the Great Leap. Peng Duhuai had also criticize the cult of personality around Mao. Peng Duhuai’s criticisms of Maoist economics and populism were mirrored internationally by Khrushchev who also criticized Mao. Lin Biao came to Mao’s aid against the revisionists abroad and at home. Lin Biao’s political career was as a partisan of the Maoist struggle. He sought to transform of the army along Maoist lines away from Soviet rigidity, hierarchy and professionalism. Politicization along Maoist lines was an important step in preparing the institutional basis for launching the Cultural Revolution, it also ensured that the Maoists would control the gun in the struggles ahead — at lease most of the time. Political education, elevating the cult around Mao, etc. were, in part, efforts to ensure the loyalty of the army in the coming crisis. The army was now a Maoist institution that was not just a fighting force, but involved itself in society as a whole, spreading Maoist influence. Another important struggle in the army leading up to the Cultural Revolution was the struggle between Lin Biao and Luo Ruiqing, who was then Chief of Staff of the Army. There were many issues involved in this struggle. However, Lin Biao juxtaposed his global people’s war doctrine found in Long Live the Victory of People’s War! that opposed both the Western and Eastern empires to Luo Ruiqing’s  The People Defeated Japanese Fascism and They Can Certainly Defeat US Imperialism Too that sought a united front with the Soviet Union against the West. Once again, Lin Biao had associated himself, and his major theoretical work, with the struggle against the Soviet Union, against reconciling with the social imperialists. If we are to believe the Outline, then we must believe that Lin Biao had revised almost every political position that he had been associated with for decades. Not only is this unlikely, but it is bad politics. Someone aiming to take power is not going to project the image of someone who is wishy-washy, especially to his inner followers.

Even more outrageous is that the Outline praises both Chinese and Japanese fascists, the two main historic enemies of the Communist Party:

“Resolutely carry out all actions according to commands and display the  spirit of Edashima.  Be prepared to die for the cause.” (27)

“Spirit of Edashima”  is a reference to the Japanese samurai tradition of sacrificing oneself and fighting to the end.  “Death before dishonor!,” a slogan used by Chaing Kai-shek to train his Guomindang cadres, is reported to appear in some versions of the text. (28) The civil war and war of liberation were still fresh in the minds of the Chinese people. Fresh too was the painful memory of fascist atrocities. The painful experiences of the occupation, and genocide even today are a core part of the narrative that forges the identity of modern China. It was a badge of honor to have sacrificed and fought against the fascists for China’s liberation. Adults of Lin Biao’s generation described the heroic battles against the Japanese and also the Guomindang to their families. Youth acted out famous battles and read about the brave fighters who fought against these enemies. The veteran soldiers of Lin Biao’s generation had spent much of their lives fighting fascist, imperial Japan, whose troops likened themselves to modern-day samurai. They had spent much of their lives fighting the Guomindang. Chinese patriots that sought to save China would not characterize themselves in terms of China’s historic enemies. Even those who consciously thought to betray China would not be so blockheaded as to characterize themselves in such ways. To do so would be foolish, bad politics in the extreme. Lin Biao earned his title as “China’s greatest general” in struggles against the Japanese fascists and Guomindang. It is absurd to suggest that Lin Biao could have written or overseen the document. Lin Liguo’s reputation was tied to his father’s. It is extremely doubtful that anyone close to Lin Biao or Lin Liguo could have written the Outline. However, a forger with little sophistication or someone who was panicked might prepare such a sloppy and unconvincing document.

The one enemy that is curiously absent is the United States and Western imperialists. This sheds some light on the origin of the document. The Outline goes out of its way to associate Lin Biao with both the Soviet Union, the Japanese, and the Guomindang. At a time when Mao was making overtures to the United States, laying the groundwork for a de facto alliance with the Western imperialists against the Soviet Union, the document omits any linking of Lin Biao to the United States or Western imperialists. The author of the document must have had some knowledge of the changing political situation, making sure to link Lin Biao to the right enemies, not old enemies in the process of becoming de facto allies. Even though the document is clumsy, whoever authored it had enough knowledge of politics to know to avoid linking Lin Biao to Mao’s current efforts to thaw relations between China and the West.

Spy vs spy codes

The Outline is peppered with distinctive, but unclear codes. The Chinese characters in the title contain   “571,”  a homonym for “military uprising.” The forger repeats  “571”  in the document numerous times. Beating a dead horse, “571”  appears at least 4 times in the opening page, for example. Other codes include: “B-52,”   “the pen,”   “the fleet,”   “battleships,”  “the Chief,”  etc. (29) Such transparent code names have no military or security use, but do give the Outline a certain James Bond quality. The Outline is more akin to a spy novel or screen play than a real military document. Again, this gives the Outline a sophmorish quality. It suggests arrogance, youth.

The language of the confessions match the language of the Outline. In the confessions, Lin Biao is referred to as  “the Chief.”  Ye Qun’s, Lin Biao’s wife is “the countess.”  (30) Since the Outline is  a forgery, this suggests that the confessions too are suspect. It seems beyond belief that a serious group of plotters would choose a set of alias for themselves that highlight their own arrogance. If  “feudal despot[ism]”  is one of the main complaints in the Outline, why would Lin Biao, especially his wife Ye Qun, choose aliases that emphasize their own distance from the masses. This is especially true of Ye Qun’s supposed alias which is a feudal title. One of the main accomplishments of the Chinese revolution was ridding China of “the two mountains” of feudalism and imperialism — a struggle Lin Biao had dedicated his life to. Accusing one’s enemies of feudalism was a mainstay of Chinese politics, especially during the Cultural Revolution. Red Guards accused each other of being  “royalists.”  Liu Shaoqi was accused of being akin to a feudal lord. Peasant revolts would sometimes result in feudal lords being forced to wear pointed caps in order to humiliate them. During the later “Campaign to Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius” both the right and the left of the Party accused each other of Confucianism and feudalist behavior. To describe oneself as a feudalist, even if only by an alias, is simply inconceivable for one seeking power in China’s political climate. Again, it suggests a  lack of sophistication on the part of the forger.

Another point worth mentioning is that Mao is referred to as  “B-52,”  the designation for America’s famous long-range bomber. It is again inconceivable that Lin Biao or any of his generation would show such disrespect for Mao. They had dedicated their lives to a Party in which Mao was at the center. Even the revisionists that seized power after Mao’s death and reversed China’s revolution did not treat Mao in such terms. Even they had a hard time reconciling their criticisms of Mao with their close association with him over half a century. Even Deng Xiaoping continued to characterize his capitalist theories in terms of Mao’s Thought. This respect for Mao continues to this day. Even for his critics within the Party that emerged after his death, Mao is a larger-than-life hero, whatever his errors. He is a figure who towers over history, whose shadow is cast across almost a century, who is inextricably linked to the birth of modern China. Mao is not simply a politician. Even the revisionists say that Mao should be seen as mostly correct. Even though the revisionists have totally reversed socialism, they continue to rate Mao’s contribution as 70 percent good, 30 percent bad. The lingering respect for Mao is seen even in the revisionist Party history. Whatever differences existed, it is hard to see those of Lin Biao’s generation calling the leader of the Long March  “B-52.”

Lin Biao had linked himself to Mao’s rise since the political struggles of the Long March. Most of Lin Biao’s life was spent following Mao and encouraging others to do so. Lin Biao’s public persona was “Mao’s  best student,”   “closest comrade-in-arms,”   “designated successor,”  etc. Lin Biao pushed Mao’s cult of personality to new levels in preparation for the Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao was seen as the main interpreter of Mao’s Thought during the Cultural Revolution. The public often came to learn about Mao’s new instructions through Lin Biao. He was the pope of the cult, so to speak. Such a disrespect toward Mao even if Lin Biao had come to oppose Mao is not only out of character for Lin Biao’s generation, but Lin Biao in particular. Lin Biao’s own legitimacy was linked to the legitimacy of Mao and Mao’s Thought. Such disrespect would be political suicide for Lin Biao. If were had come to oppose Mao, it would make far more sense to characterize Mao the way that the modern revisionists have, as a great man who slipped in his old age. If one is going to betray someone who is regarded as a great hero after a life of service to him, it is politically expedient to maintain a respectful tone toward Mao, not causally refer to him as  “B-52,”   or as a “feudal despot.”  (31) Once again, the Outline appears to be the work of political amateurs with little sense of what Mao meant to Lin Biao’s generation. Such an arrogant attitude toward Mao would be hard to find in China’s political class. Perhaps such arrogance could come from are the children of Party officials. They did not march with the legend, over mountains, dodging bombs. Perhaps Mao had lost some of his shimmer to the sons and daughters of the Party elite as the Cultural Revolution unfolded. Even the term itself, an airplane, “B-52,”  suggests youth. The forger’s frivolous, arrogant attitude does not match that of a Lin Biao.

Politics in the coup

Another point to take notice of is that the political complaints against Mao’s regime in the Outline do not fit with what is known about Lin Biao’s politics. The politics of the Outline are almost point-for-point the opposite of the politics Lin Biao is associated with. Lin Biao was held up as a living symbol of the Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao was perceived as a warrior and monk, blending the asceticism of both. It was through Lin Biao that Mao Zedong Thought was communicated to the Chinese masses. Lin Biao was perceived as a hardcore Maoist, a solid leftist, a Mao loyalist. Even if his public persona was just a mask, surely it makes more sense to maintain that mask to some degree than to abruptly cast it off in such an extreme manner. From an opportunist standpoint, to abruptly change one’s politics is not going to win respect or admiration. Had the politics of the Outline been Lin Biao’s real politics beneath he surface, then one wonders how Lin Biao could have advanced so far within the Maoist regime. If, indeed, the conservative, reactionary politics of the Outline were his real politics, then it reflects very poorly on the Maoist regime as a whole that it could not only allow such a pretender near the top, but that such a man could be written into the Party constitution as Mao’s “designated successor” with the support of the entire Maoist elite. What is far more likely is the obvious: the politics of the Outline are not Lin Biao’s.  The Outline criticizes Maoists:

“The peasants lack food and are short of clothing.” (32)


“During the early stages, the Red Guards were cheated and used, and they served as cannon fodder; during the latter stages, they were suppressed and made into scapegoats. Administrative cadres were retrenched and sent to  May 7  cadre schools, which amounted to their losing their jobs. Workers (especially young workers) had their wages frozen, which amounted to disguised exploitation.”   (33)


“The sending of young intellectuals to the mountains and the countryside is really a disguised form of labor reform.” (34)


“Their socialism is, in essence, social fascism. They have turned China s state machine into a kind of meat grinder for mutual slaughter and strife, and they have made the Party and whole country’s political life into a patriarchal life of the feudal, dictatorial, and autocratic type & He is the biggest feudal despot in Chinese history.”  (35)

It is true that Lin Biao favored a renewed emphasis on the economy after the Ninth Congress of 1969. The chaos of the mass movements and factionalism from 1967 to 1968 had led to a breakdown of the collective economy. Since the mass movement phase of struggle had been ended, Lin Biao favored strengthening the people’s communes, which the Maoists had traditionally seen as an important part of the transition to higher forms of socialism and communism. As late as 1970, Lin Biao was pushing for a revival of the “learn from Dazhai” campaign. (36) However, the kind of economic drives that the Maoists had traditionally favored were focused on the creation of public wealth, not personal wealth. The kind of socialism that Lin Biao was associated with was ascetic and militaristic. In this outlook, the peasant and worker should see themselves as akin to the guerrilla fighter, sacrificing their personal wellbeing for the people as a whole. The economist politics of the Outline criticizes the Maoists for squandering the wealth of the country, for lowering standards of living for the sake of politics, lowering personal wealth. Such a criticism of Maoism is very far from Lin Biao’s warrior asceticism. It is the typical criticism of the Maoists coming from the rightists and revisionists.

These economist complaints are exactly the kind of politics that Lin Biao, as a public figure, had fought against. As voice of the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao had been associated with a rejection of Western consumerism. He had been associated with a guerrilla asceticism, a revolution in the superstructure, that placed class struggle over development of a consumer economy. Lin Biao raised the slogan “Fight self! Repudiate revisionism!” The criticisms that have been placed in Lin Biao’s mouth through the Outline are exactly those of his opponents. Peng Duhuai, who Lin Biao replaced, made similar criticisms of Mao during the Great Leap. Lin Biao’s defense of Maoist radicalism is exactly what led to him replacing Peng Duhuai as Defense Minister. State Chairman Liu Shaoqi, who had been the highest ranking in the hierarchy after Mao, fell because his economism came to be seen as revisionism, as capitalism. Again, it was Lin Biao who took over his role as successor to Mao. Lin Biao was also closely associated with the effort to reorganize the economy along Maoist lines, “the Flying Leap” from 1969 to 1971. It was in those areas where Lin Biao’s power base was strongest that the Maoist policies were implemented, albeit only for a short time. Lin Biao was closely associated with the Maoist themes of people power, ideology, class struggle, social experiment, egalitarianism, reaching communism, etc. It was Lin Biao’s media that emphasized these themes. Lin Biao was closely associated with the heroic story of Dazhai, an agricultural community that was said to have overcome terrible obstacles, which later became a model.  Once again, this provides hints about the Outline. The forger seeks to link Lin Biao to the right even though such criticisms fly in the face Lin Biao’s leftist politics. The Outline goes on to criticize the treatment of cadre during the Cultural Revolution:

“Cadres who were rejected and attacked in the course of the protracted struggle within the Party and the Cultural Revolution are angry but dare not speak.”  (37)

And, the Outline even criticizes Mao s liquidation of people like Peng Duhuai and Liu Shaoqi:

“[Do you see] anyone whom he had supported initially who has not finally been handed a political death sentence?”  (38)

This complaint goes against much of what we know about Lin Biao. After all, Lin Biao came to be Defense Minister by replacing Mao’s critic Peng Duhuai. Later, Luo Ruiqing is toppled by Lin Biao to make way for the smooth unfolding of the Cultural Revolution. Without Lin Biao’s support, the Maoists could not have mobilized the mass movements to topple Liu Shaoqi or Deng Xiaoping. Lin Biao was one of the principal beneficiaries of Cultural Revolution. His army too saw its influence rise as soldiers filled the roles of cadres. When Mao was moving to rehabilitate “the February Adverse Current” of rightist and revisionist civilian and military men who opposed the Cultural Revolution in its opening period, Mao laid the blame for their fall on Lin Biao. Specifically, Mao claimed that Lin Biao had been behind general and Foreign Minister Chen Yi’s fall. Everything known about Lin Biao’s public persona is at odds with the Outline. There is a method to the madness, however. The forger aims to distance Lin Biao from the remaining left by reinventing Lin Biao as a rightist and revisionist.

Zhang Chunqiao, the hero of the plot

What is striking about the coup plan is the number of times Zhang Chunqiao is mentioned. In the plot, it is Zhang Chunqiao who is Lin Biao’s great antagonist. Thus Zhang Chunqiao emerges as a kind of hero in contrast to Lin Biao, the great villain. In the Outline itself, he is mentioned at least twice by name, and other times by code. The remaining Maoists, those who would become known as “the Gang of Four,” are alluded to several times:

“Zhang Chunqiao must be captured. Then immediately bring into play all the instruments of public opinion to publicize his traitorous crimes.”   (39)

And from the confessions obtained by the Special Group:

“Zhang Chunqiao is expanding his influence.”  (40)


“To get rid of Zhang Chunqiao and his followers…”  (41)

Yao Wenyuan, an associate of Zhang Chunqiao, a leftist, and Cultural Revolutionary from Shanghai is mentioned:

“Lin Liguo added:  After we have taken care of Zhang [Chunqiao] and Yao [Wenyuan]& , if necessary draw on part of the Nanking Air Force to control the situation in Shanghai; then link other forces all over the country to issue a declaration of support, and force the Central Committee to express its support.”   (42)

One conspicuous feature pops out. In a language of the coup so loaded with codes for everyone, why is it Zhang Chunqiao is openly named in the Outline, especially since he is cast as such a formidable opposition to the coup? The forger wants no confusion here: Zhang Chunqiao was Lin Biao’s enemy. This gives insight into one of the main reasons for the document and coup story. The coup story is part of an attempt to break the connection between Lin Biao and the remaining Maoists, to break the connection between Lin Biao and the Cultural Revolution that he had so represented.

Shanghai, the political base for the remaining left, is mentioned several times as the center of potential problems for Lin Biao’s coup in both the Outline and confessions. This emphasis on Zhang Chunqiao, the emphasis on Shanghai, and the mentioning of Yao Wenyuan all aim to break the link between Lin Biao and the remaining leftists. In the public imagination, the Maoists were seen as a mostly united bloc. Jiang Qing got her start in politics as cultural advisor to the army with Lin Biao’s patronage. When Lin Biao became associated with the coup attempt, the entire Maoist bloc could have easily become suspect. Lin Biao’s fall threatened to take down the entire left even if there were big divisions within the left camp.  It also threatened to discredit the Cultural Revolution as a whole as mere sectarian power politics. In the aftermath of Lin Biao’s fall, the right, those around Zhou Enlai and “the Adverse Current,” would seek to link the remaining leftists and their politics with Lin Biao’s group. The coup story aimed to prevent Lin Biao’s fall from tarnishing the Maoist movement as a whole.  Until Mao s death, Mao would be locked in political struggle trying to preserve the legacy of the Cultural Revolution despite deep opposition. The Outline was almost certainly produced for the purpose of damage control for the remaining Maoists.

The document so benefits Zhang Chunqiao that some might suspect he is the author. However, Zhang Chunqiao was too sophisticated to have produced something so clumsy. The same could be said of Yao Wenyuan, a literary critic. Jiang Qing also worked in the arts. Except for Wang Hongwen, most of them came from educated backgrounds with experience with China’s high culture and high politics. They surely would been able to produce a document that was more believable. Had they produced the Outline, surely they would have done a better job. What is far more plausible is that the Outline was produced by forces either sympathetic to Zhang Chunqiao and the remaining left or forces under pressure to aid the remaining left. In the case of the Outline itself, it is probably the former. In the case of the authenticating confessions of people like Li Weixin, probably the latter. What is most likely is that as evidence was being gathered by investigators, someone sympathetic to the left, familiar with the investigation, but also unsophisticated, produced the Outline on their own. It finds its way to the investigators then to Mao by chance. After Mao decides to release it, despite his private believe that it is fraudulent, the investigators, especially those on the left, produce the authenticating confessions. This explains the evolution of the narrative in the Central Committee documents. It could have been Vice-Chairman of Qinghua University Revolutionary Committee Xie Jingyi. Jiang Qing and her allies enjoyed a lot of support on the campus. Xie Jingyi, Mao’s physician reports, tried to sound alarm bells over an impending coup even prior to Lin Biao’s fall. Her husband Xiao Su was an air force officer with access. Xie Jingyi’s August warnings reportedly contained many of the bizarre codes and aliases, similar to the later plan. Such rumors and suspicions of plots amongst the population and leadership were common. In 1970, rumors circulated in  Yunnan that Lin Biao tried to have Zhou Enlai’s plane shot down. (43) Jiang Qing raised the threat of poisoning and assassinations regularly. (44) (45) It would not be surprising if pre-incident rumor based on paranoia, combined with forgery and politically motivated or coerced confessions, did not make its way into the narrative. All of these transparent problems with the coup story is certainly the reason that the regime never published the Outline in full to be examined by the Chinese masses. Instead, polemics against Lin Biao would only selectively quote the Outline. That the Outline was hidden from the masses speaks to just how problematic it is, and the regime knew it.

A crashed plane and reported kidnapping

There is much to consider about the events surrounding the last hours before the crash of the Trident with Lin Biao on board. If there was a pre-established plan to simply flee or to travel elsewhere to establish a rival regime, then it is very strange that the plane did not have have enough fuel to get it where it needed to go. It is also odd that the plane reportedly changed course several times. It is odd that the plane was heading back to China when the plane crashed in Mongolia. Odd also, reports by Mongolian investigators that gunshots had been fired on board the plane when it went down. It is impossible to know for sure the cause of the strange events surrounding the Trident crash. However, the official story that the plane ran out of fuel as Lin Biao fled is suspect. Lin Biao had spent the majority of his life as a soldier with a reputation for planning intricate stratagems. Lin Liguo was Deputy Director of the War Department of the Air Force Command. It is strange to think that military officers of their caliber would not know to fill the plane with enough fuel, given the decades of military experience of those who perished in the flight. What about the plane’s crew? Were they also not paying attention?

It should also be remembered that the phone call that supposedly tipped off the authorities to Lin Biao’s escape attempt was supposedly made by Lin Biao’s daughter Lin Doudou. She reported that Lin Biao was being kidnapped by his wife and son. She reported what she perceived as a kidnapping several times, but the military bodyguards of Unit 8341 and staff ignored her reports for days prior to the incident. (46)  She was frantic in the final moments. As Lin Biao was being taken to the plane, the soldiers were ordered to stand down via telephone from Beijing. The soldiers were only released to act after it was too late. During one of the phone calls to Beijing, Lin Doudou was ordered to accompany her family who she had reported kidnapped. “Now, the directive from the Party Central Committee is that you should get on the plane and go with them,” the soldiers in contact with Beijing ordered her. She refused. (47) The order could have only originated from Mao or Zhou Enlai. It appears that Mao or Zhou Enlai had prior knowledge of the departure of the plane and had hoped to tie up a loose end by getting Lin Doudou on board to meet the same fate as her the rest of her family. After all, had Lin Biao been behind the attempt to flee, why would he take his entire family, but leave his daughter who he so loved? Lin Doudou was a potential problem. At that point, Zhou Enlai, had he been involved in a plot against Lin Biao, would not have known the full extent of Lin Doudou’s knowledge of events. It makes sense that he would seek to tie up the loose end by getting her onto the plane. There is another indication of Zhou Enlai’s foreknowledge. Zhou Enlai had checked up on the location of Lin Biao’s Trident plane the day before the incident. Needless to say, doing Air Force inventory is not part of Zhou Enlai’s regular duties. (48) Making the official narratives more suspect, Mao made a comment in 1975 that “If Lin Biao had not run, we would not have killed him.” (49) Was Mao simply stating that Lin Biao would not have met the same fate as Liu Shaoqi had he not fled? Or was Mao implying something more sinister?

Lin Doudou never got in the plane as ordered by Beijing. Later, even though she disobeyed Beijing, she would be honored for helping to expose her father’s alleged plot. She was portrayed as a loyal patriot who put her country first and exposed her family’s treason. A Central Committee document states that she had helped to expose “at the critical moment Lin Biao, Ye Qun, and Lin Liguo’s ordering of the plane [to Beidaihe] without permission and their plot to betray the country and surrender to the enemy.” The Central Committee stated, “Lin [Doudou], daughter of Lin Biao, placed national interest above familial piety by refusing to escape with Lin Biao, and she reported the situation to the premier in time, which led to the foiling of her father’s monstrous conspiracy.” (50) However, she denounced the Central Committee for “[borrowing] her name to deceive the world” because she had never described what happened at Beidaihe as Lin Biao’s attempt to “escape from the country.” Lin Doudou explained to Zhou Enlai what really happened, but Zhou Enlai insisted she tow the official line. Because Lin Duoduo would not agree with official events, she was order to receive “reeducation.” The “hero” who exposed the plot was placed under house arrest until late 1975. (51)

Another interesting fact is that the Chinese government bestowed the title “Revolutionary Martyr” to Pan Jingyin, the captain of the Trident, several years after the crash. This act rehabilitated and absolved the plane’s crew of any involvement in the plot. It made the captain a state hero. (52) Such an honor seems misplaced unless something else was going on behind the scenes. Was the crew really being honored for their role in helping to dispense with Lin Biao?  There are so many loose threads. Only one conclusion is really possible: the official narrative is obviously false in many respects.

The real Lin Biao?

Why would Lin Biao, who was designated in the Party constitution itself as Mao’s successor, find the need to overthrow Mao? The official Maoist and post-Maoist regime narratives agree that Lin Biao was a renegade who aimed to seize supreme power for himself. However, Lin Biao was almost a generation younger than Mao. Had he wanted supreme power, would it not make sense just to wait it out? Mao died only five years after the Lin Biao incident. Mao’s health was visibly declining. Lin Biao could have simply waited Mao out. There was no need to challenge Mao for leadership. And, subsequently, there was no need for Mao to move against Lin Biao resulting in Lin Biao’s alleged response. To see the chain of events from 1970 to Lin Biao’s fall as a failed plot by Lin Biao only makes sense if one has a picture of Lin Biao as a reckless adventurer who is so focused on power that he could not be patient enough to wait five years for his turn at power. After his death, the state media did their most to portray Lin Biao in this manner, but there is little evidence to suggest that Lin Biao ever wanted anyone but Mao to be Chairman of the Party and Chairman of the State for that matter. Once the media image of Lin Biao is dispensed with, there is little in the official narratives that would justify Mao’s response against Lin Biao. Thus there is no reason for Lin Biao to respond to Mao in kind. The official narratives fall apart.

Even though Mao was not please with Lin Biao after 1970, even Mao said that he gave Lin Biao many chances to make self-criticisms. “Chairman Mao intended to return to Beijing and meet with Vice-Chairman Lin Biao in order to persuade him to renounce his errors, on the principle of saving the sick man and curing the sickness.” (53) At that point, most agree that Mao had not decided to purge Lin Biao, but simply to weaken his position. Mao knew how closely Lin Biao was associated with the Cultural Revolution. Mao was aware that removing Lin Biao, who was so closely associated with the Cultural Revolution, from the leadership would have thrown doubt on the Cultural Revolution itself. Mao’s actions in his last years show how even though Mao was moving rightward, he very much continued to want the legacy of the Cultural Revolution upheld. So much so did he want to preserve a positive verdict on the Cultural Revolution that Mao would knock Deng Xiaoping down a second time when Deng Xiaoping refused to endorse Mao’s views in 1975. Mao surely was aware just how difficult it would be disentangling Lin Biao from the Cultural Revolution. Years later, Mao made the ambiguous remark saying that Lin Biao would not have killed if he had not fled. (54) There is little reason for a retaliatory coup when it is unlikely Mao could have easily deposed Lin Biao and continued to preserve a positive verdict on the Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao surely knew these things.

Another coup?

What makes the official accounts even more suspicious is that the story of Lin Biao’s purported coup is neither the first or last time that political enemies will be accused of plotting coups against the regime with little evidence.  The charge was also made against Chief of Staff Luo Ruiqing when he was deposed by the Maoists. In this case, the Maoists were securing the areas of political power, Beijing in particular. Deposing Luo Ruiqing was securing their own power over the military, possibly preventing a counter-coup against them. However, again, the claim at the time that Luo Ruiqing was actively partaking in a coup plot served the Maoist agenda. How much it described reality is questionable. (55) Later, again the accusation was made against “the Gang of Four” after their arrest in 1976. Just as Lin Biao was charged with plotting a coup in 1971, so too is a narrative invented around “the Gang of Four” in 1976. If the coup story worked once, why change the script? Just as there was a political struggle around the definition of Lin Biao’s errors as right or left, so too with “the Gang of Four.” Just as Lin Biao is transformed from an ultra-leftist in 1971 into an ultra-rightist in 1973 back to an ultra-leftist in 1979 so too is “the Gang of Four” transformed from ultra-right in 1976 to ultra-left by 1979. In both cases, the political mistakes were redefined as different factions ascended to the top of Chinese politics.

Theory and practice

The Lin Biao incident was one of the most important events of not just the Cultural Revolution, but the Chinese revolution as a whole. After Lin Biao’s fall, the ruling regime lurches rightward. Even though leftist ideological rhetoric is still the order of the day, more and more, the regime that is restored looks much like the order prior to the Cultural Revolution. One observer described the post-Lin Biao regime as “Liu Shaoqism without Liu Shaoqi.” (56) This rightward lurch did not go unnoticed by the CIA either.  The United States would develop a new relationship with China throughout the 1970s. (57)  Things had shifted so far rightward by the mid-1970s that Mao correctly worried about both his own legacy and that of the Cultural Revolution. Even if many of his efforts to protect the legacy of the Cultural Revolution fell flat within the regime and populace, that Mao worried so suggests his intuitive understanding of where things were headed and his inability to find a way out. The mass movement left that had been eliminated since mid-1967 onward. This undercut much of the bottom-up aspects of the Cultural Revolution. Furthermore, the military left had fallen with Lin Biao in 1971, thus the mighty military institution could no longer be relied on. As the left was weakened, the right and revisionists filled the void. There is much to suggest that there were line issues at stake between Mao and Lin Biao. Lin Biao sought to push for a left, militarist regime that returned to a focus on economy and stability, but with the Maoist emphasis on egalitarianism, asceticism, ideology and superstructure, social experiment, global people’s war, and achieving communism. Lin Biao most likely opposed the reconciliation with Western imperialism, the United States in particular. Whatever Lin Biao’s private views were, however conflicted he was or wasn’t, Lin Biao was so wedded to the left by his public persona that even if he had wanted to follow Mao rightward, it would have been difficult. His fall meant a major victory for the capitalist drift rightward in the 1970s. The major beneficiary of Lin Biao’s fall was none other than Deng Xiaoping who was restored to power by Mao in 1973 and ends up restored to power as top leader shortly after Mao’s death in September 1976. General Ye Jianying, a leader of “the Adverse Current” that opposed the Cultural Revolution, was elevated to power to replace Lin Biao as Defense Minister. To emphasize the importance of the monopoly of violence as a core part of the state, Karl Marx once described the state as “armed bodies of men.” Now the revisionists controlled the gun. The days for the leftover left, “the Gang of Four,” were numbered. They would be deposed and, like Lin Biao, charged with plotting a coup shortly after they lose their protector when Mao dies in 1976. That so few have called into the question the official account of such a pivotal moment in our history from a revolutionary perspective shows just how large the gap has been between Maoist theory and practice.  No matter how much Maoist theory may insist on its break from police approaches to political struggle, the reality is that political struggle in China did not decisively break with its Soviet predecessors. Whatever their failings, we have an opportunity to set the history right. Others have offered a far different image of China’s greatest general:

“Quan Yanchi, far from being a good-for-nothing coward who acted subserviently to Mao in order to gain power, Lin Biao was arrogant and was one of the few who did confront Mao personally if he disagreed with him. The only thing Lin Biao would not do was criticize Mao publicly or behind his back. That Lin Biao wanted to take power from Mao was a conventional view touted by the Chinese government official line. According to Wang Nianyi and He Shou there was little evidence that Lin Biao wanted to pursue a power struggle with Mao…” (58)

We have an opportunity to overturn the police narratives that have so poisoned the history of socialism. Because the next time the poor have power, we will be confronted by many of the same problems. If we do not get the history right now, then we will repeat many of the past errors that lead to counter-revolution. Breaking with the police approach to history is an important part of breaking with dogma across the board. It is an important part of putting the most advanced science, Leading Light Communism, in command.


1. Mao’s Bloody Revolution Revealed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wd0aW-4mV68
2. A Great Trial in Chinese History. New World Press, Beijing, China: 1981. pp. 24-25
3. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc., USA: 1994. p. 542
4. Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Keegan Paul International, England: 1993.  p. 210
5. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc., USA: 1994. p. 412
6. ibid. pp. 457-458
7. ibid. p. 390
8. Ma Jisen. The Cultural Revolution in the Foreign Ministry of China. Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong: 2004. pp. 292-300
9. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. pp. 194-195
10. Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Keegan Paul International, England: 1993.  p. 216
11. “The CCP Central Committee Document Chung-Fa (1971) No. 60 (Abridged)” in Chinese Politics v2.  ed. Myers, James T., Domes, Jurgan, and Yeh, Milton D. University of South Carolina Press, USA:1989. p 142-143
12. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. pp. 8-9
13. Domes, Jurgan. China after the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press, Great Britain: 1977. p. 130
14. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc., USA: 1994. pp. 537-538
15. ibid. p. 540
16. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 171
17. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 10
18. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc., USA: 1994. p. 540
19. Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Keegan Paul International, England: 1993.  p. 234
20. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 10
21. ibid. p. 192
22. Domes, Jurgan. China after the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press, Great Britain: 1977. p. 112
23. Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Ten Years of Turbulence. Keegan Paul International, England: 1993.  p. 238
24. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 169
25. “The CCP Central Committee Document Chung-Fa (1972) No. 4” in Chinese Politics v2.  ed. Myers, James T., Domes, Jurgan, and Yeh, Milton D. University of South Carolina Press, USA:1989. p . 148
26. ibid. p.149
27. ibid. p. 153
28. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_571_Outline
29.“The CCP Central Committee Document Chung-Fa (1972) No. 4” in Chinese Politics v2.  ed. Myers, James T., Domes, Jurgan, and Yeh, Milton D. University of South Carolina Press, USA:1989. pp. 146-153
30. ibid. . p . 153
31. ibid. p. 148
32. ibid. p. 149
33.  ibid. p. 149
34.  ibid. p. 149
35.  ibid. p. 148
36. Domes, Jurgan. China after the Cultural Revolution. University of California Press, Great Britain: 1977. pp. 110-111
37. The CCP Central Committee Document Chung-Fa (1972) No. 4” in Chinese Politics v2.  ed. Myers, James T., Domes, Jurgan, and Yeh, Milton D. University of South Carolina Press, USA:1989. p. 149
38. ibid. p. 152
39. ibid. p. 152
40. ibid. p. 153
41. ibid. p. 154
42 ibid. p. 155
43. Shapiro, Judith. Mao’s War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China. Cambridge University Press, USA:1991. p. 135
44. Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. Random House Inc., USA: 1994. p. 497
45. ibid. pp. 550-551
46. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. pp. 166-177
47. ibid. p. 176
48. A Great Trial in Chinese History. New World Press, Beijing, China: 1981. pp. 24-25
49. Terrill, Ross. Madame Mao. Bantam Books, USA: 1984. p.  307
50. “The CCP Central Committee Document Chung-Fa (1971) No. 60 (Abridged)” in Chinese Politics v2.  ed. Myers, James T., Domes, Jurgan, and Yeh, Milton D. University of South Carolina Press, USA:1989. p 142-143
51.  Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 189
52. ibid p. 195)
53. Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 415
54. Terrill, Ross. Madame Mao. Bantam Books, USA: 1984. p.  307
55. Jin Qui. The Culture of Power. Stanford University Press, California, USA: 1999. p. 57
56.Karol, K.S. The Second Chinese Revolution. Hill and Wang. USA: 1973. p. 445
57. Intelligence Report. CIA, USA: November, 1971 http://www.foia.cia.gov/sites/default/files/document_conversions/14/polo-32.pdf

58. Mobo Gao. The Battle for China’s Past. Pluto Pres: 2008 p. 108