Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Michael Klonsky

China Celebrates Victory Over “Gang of Four”

First Published: The Call, Vol. 6, No. 30, August 1, 1977.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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A great victory has been won. A great wrong has been set right. The visit of our delegation to the People’s Republic of China left us with these positive conclusions.

On our last day in China, we joined together with the millions of people in every corner of the country in massive demonstrations and celebrations of support for the important decisions, made at last week’s plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

We were in Canton when the news of the decisions was announced. Hua Kuo-feng was confirmed as chairman of the Party and head of the Military Commission of the Party’s Central Committee. Secondly, Teng Hsiao-ping, the target of an attack by the “gang of four,” was returned to all of his former positions, including vice-chairman of the Party, vice-premier of the State Council, vice-chairman of the Military Commission and chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

The “gang of four” (Wang Hung-wen, Chang Chun-chiao, Chiang Ching, and Yao Wen-yuan) were removed from the Party. And finally, the plans were laid for the holding of the 11th National Congress of the CPC.

In the eyes of the 800 million people of China, justice had been carried out. On the afternoon of July 21, in anticipation of the announcement of the Central Committee decisions, wall posters had gone up all over the country supporting Chairman Hua and welcoming the return of Teng Hsiao-ping to his posts. By afternoon, the wine stores had already been emptied of Mao Tai and other wines. Every firecracker had been grabbed up.

In Canton, despite a request that fireworks not be set off for fear of fires in this 2,000-year-old city, the explosions began with the public announcement of the Party communique. The air was filled with a massive bursting of fireworks as the celebrations began, first in the local units and then pouring out into the streets.

From every corner of the city, the marchers came, carrying brightly painted banners and pictures of Chairman Mao and his successor Chairman Hua. Gongs and drums beat loudly well into the morning hours.

The pictures of our delegation’s meeting with Chairman Hua had appeared earlier on the front page of the newspapers, and many people stopped on the streets to shake our hands and congratulate us on the founding of our Party.

The following day, in every city and locality in China, mass meetings of millions of people were held as speakers explained the decisions of the plenary session and summed up the 11th two-line struggle in the history of this 56-year-old party. These meetings and festivals consolidated the victory. The people who had poured out their tears many times in the past year–with the passing of their beloved leaders, Chairman Mao, Premier Chou, and Chu Teh, with the terrible toll of human lives in the massive earthquakes last July–were now delirious with joy.

To understand why, it is important to see the real nature of the attacks on Teng Hsiao-ping and what his return means, as well as to understand the crimes of the “gang of four” and what their victory would have meant for the future of China.

It was in the course of the campaign against “the right-deviationist wind” last year that the “gang of four” prepared for their attempted seizure of power after Chairman Mao’s death. While it was, in the main, a correct campaign, aimed at consolidating the “socialist new things” that emerged from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of the sixties, the “gang of four” departed from the orientation of the Party’s Central Committee and of Chairman Mao.

Through the use of the mass media, which they firmly controlled, they directed their attack against Premier Chou En-lai by using Teng Hsiao-ping as a scapegoat. Teng had made some minor errors, but the “gang of four” fabricated a list of charges against him to use as ammunition against Premier Chou, whom they had been attacking as a “capitalist roader” since 1973.

The content of the “gang of four’s” attack was a right-opportunist deviation which separated revolution from the crucial task of socialist construction. Chairman Mao’s line called for the rapid advancement of China into a modern industrialized country by the end of the century. Everyone concerned with the problems of production and carrying out this revolutionary line was labeled as holding “the theory of the productive forces.”

Furthermore, as expressed in two articles by Chang Chun-chiao and Yao Wen-yuan in 1975, the “gang” held the line that all the veteran cadres who joined the Party during the New Democratic Revolution were bound to become “capitalist roaders.” The “gang” on the other hand, the self-proclaimed champions of the Cultural Revolution, represented themselves as the “new order” in the Party. They called for the overthrow of all the old cadres and went so far as to organize a separate military force, based in Shanghai, to prepare for the seizure of state power.

Everywhere they stuck their nose into the business of various localities. Everywhere they struck out at Chou En-lai and, through him, the line of his longtime teacher and comrade-in-arms, Chairman Mao. They organized “Mass Criticism Groups” and wrote articles under false names in which they put labels on the heads of leading cadres. Their aim was to place Chiang Ching in the position of Chairman of the Party and make Chiang Chun-chiao the premier.

For a while they took in people both at home and abroad who at first thought their articles were “advanced” and “new contributions.” Their line at first reading seemed very “left.”

But in fact their line was rightist in nature. It basically attacked all the gains of socialism before the Cultural Revolution and put forth a one-sided view of that great event, blowing up their own contributions out of proportion. They liquidated the leadership of the Party, covered up the class struggle under socialism and attacked the Marxist-Leninist line of Mao Tsetung.

We visited Shanghai where the “gang” had built their “base area,” only to be politically buried there last October.

In Shanghai, we learned of the fascist terror brought down upon those who opposed them.

Some comrades had long ago stumbled accidently upon records connecting members of the “gang” with agents of the Kuomintang secret police and tried to expose them to Chairman Mao and the Central Committee. But the “gang” seized the research material, and the people who knew of their shady background were jailed, tortured and even killed to keep the information secret.

But despite their fascist methods, despite their demagogy and “left” phrasemongering, the masses of people were not taken in for long. The “gang of four” was not liked by the people, and while they couldn’t always explain the reasons in a theoretical way, many, many people knew “something was wrong.” The love for their long-time leader and comrade Chou En-lai was so strong that the attacks by the “gang” directed at Teng Hsiaoping only made them more skeptical and bitter.

Following the death of Premier Chou, the “gang” suppressed the film Eternal Glory to Chou En-lai which showed emotional scenes of China’s millions shedding their tears. Of course, they had long suppressed many revolutionary films and other cultural works which went against their theory of “smashing the veteran cadres” or of “revolution without production.” They reigned for years as the self-proclaimed “standard-bearers” of culture.

During our last visit to China in April 1976, we witnessed the “incident at Tien An Men Square,” in which thousands of people demonstrated their anger. While we didn’t understand the incident at that time and had only the propaganda of the “gang” to judge it by, we now have learned that the demonstration was mainly good.

It’s true that there were some troublemakers and a handful of counter-revolutionaries there to exploit the situation. But the great majority of the people were righteously expressing their anger at the attacks on Chou En-lai.

The links made by the “gang” at that time between the incident at Tien An Men and Teng Hsiaoping have been proven to be false. Also shown to be false are the charges that Teng promoted the “taking of the three directives as the key link” in opposition to taking class struggle as the key link. While some people did promote this line, Teng Hsiao-ping was not one of them.

Faced with this complicated situation and aware of the ambitions of the “gang of four,” Chairman Mao took some measures as he approached his death. From his sick bed, he appointed Hua Kuo-feng as “first vice-chairman” of the Party in an unprecedented move aimed at keeping the “gang” out of the top Party position, as well as making Hua acting Premier.

He told Hua, “With you in charge, I’m at ease.” He also warned Hua about the ambitions of Chiang Ching, his wife, with whom he had refused to live for several years.

With bold decisiveness, Chairman Hua stepped into the most pressure-filled situation in modern history and with a steady hand guided the people in smashing the “gang” with one blow. Had he failed to act swiftly, civil war would have surely broken out.

People told us that they would have “gone to the mountains with guns in hand if the ’gang of four’ had seized power.” This situation would have enabled the Soviet revisionists to invade China, and the future of the country would have been very dark.

The ability to set things right shows that the Communist Party of China is a great communist party. The decisions of the Third Plenary Session of the Tenth Central Committee have deepened our respect for the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people.

Of course, there are still things we don’t fully understand, as there were after our visit in April 1976. We don’t expect to understand the class struggle perfectly in China any more than we would expect communists in other countries to understand our struggle as well as we understand it. There are many questions the Party has not yet brought out into the open, questions which are still internal matters and remain to be summed up.

But we have great confidence in the Party of Mao Tsetung and the masses who have been educated under his guidance. They have gone through every battle and come out victorious. They have paved the way in making socialist revolution and in fighting revisionism.

From our meeting with Chairman Hua, we were very impressed with his knowledge and style of work. Chairman Mao’s stamp has been left on him as well as on the other top leaders of the CPC. Our visit as a whole, from Peking to Shanghai, from Taching to Harbin and Canton, left us very confident and optimistic for China’s future.

Now we are eagerly awaiting the 11th Party Congress, which will be held in the near future, according to the communique from the recent Central Committee session. The agenda will include: 1. the political report of the Central Committee; 2. revision of the Party’s constitution; 3. the election of the Central Committee.

This Congress will certainly be one of the most significant in the history of the Party and will mark another major step forward on the road of socialist revolution.

Finally, the recent communique from the Central Committee’s Plenary session ends on the following note: “We must strengthen our unity with all Marxist-Leninist parties and organizations the world over and carry through to the end the struggle against modern revisionism, with the Soviet renegade clique at its center.”

The visit of our delegation and the events we witnessed leave us with no doubt that these tasks are being carried out in a revolutionary way.