Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Liu Shaoqi rehabilitated

Communist Party of China holds Central Committee meeting

First Published: Unity, Vol. 3, No. 6, March 14-27, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China recently concluded its fifth plenary meeting at which it passed on several major items, including the posthumous rehabilitation of Liu Shaoqi and the resignations of Wang Dongxing, Ji Dengkui, Wu De and Chen Xi-lian, all members of the 20-plus member Political Bureau of the Party, with Wang a part of its Standing Committee and a vice-chairman.

Other matters involved decisions to convene the 12th National Party Congress before its due date, perhaps by the end of the year. (Party congresses are held approximately every five years; the last one was held in 1977.) The Central Committee, with 201 full members and 118 alternate members, also elected two new members to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau. These were Hu Yaobang and Zhao Zi-yang, veteran leaders who have distinguished themselves over the past several years in the modernization effort and the campaign to overturn the negative influences of Lin Biao and the “gang of four.”

The Central Committee also formed an eleven-member Secretariat of the Central Committee, which is empowered to carry out the day-to-day work of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. The Secretariat had been disbanded during the Cultural Revolution. Other decisions were made to improve inner party political life, recruit younger members for leading posts and other organizational matters.

The keynote of the meeting was, according to the official Communique issued at the meeting’s conclusion, “the upholding and improving of party leadership and the enhancing of the party’s fighting capacity, which constitute the most important guarantees for a smooth advance in socialist modernization.”

The most controversial topic was the rehabilitation of the former vice-chairman of the Party and President of the country, Liu Shaoqi. Liu had been the second top leader of the party next to Mao Zedong until the Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966. During the course of the upheaval, he was branded “China’s Khrushchev,” ostensibly for preaching revisionism which would lead to the overturning of socialism as in the Soviet Union. The campaign against Liu culminated in 1968 when he was expelled from the Party and labeled a “renegade, scab and traitor.”

The recent Central Committee meeting completely overturned these past judgments, stating that an incorrect assessment of the situation in the Party and country had been made on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. This assessment led to the belief that Liu was heading a “bourgeois headquarters” within the Party. Furthermore, the Communique noted, Lin Biao and the “gang of four” used this error for their own counterrevolutionary ends and “subjected Comrade Liu Shaoqi to political frame-up and physical persecution,” and also discredited a great many others. The Central Committee stated, “This biggest frame-up our Party has ever known in its history must be completely overturned,” and resurrected Liu as a “great Marxist and proletarian revolutionary.”

A memorial meeting is being planned for the future, as Liu died in disgrace in 1969.

Liu’s rehabilitation was not unexpected as it is the result of a major reevaluation of the recent history of the Party. This new assessment began following the fall of the “gang of four.” The way was cleared for the rehabilitation of Liu with the negative evaluation of the Cultural Revolution given by the Central Committee in September 1979, as expressed in elder statesman Ye Jianying’s speech on the 30th anniversary of the founding of People’s China. In the speech, Ye stated that the Cultural Revolution had brought disaster upon China’s socialist efforts. Previously, the Cultural Revolution had been evaluated positively.

Over the last couple of years, however, the Communist Party of China has produced extensive and convincing evidence that the Cultural Revolution seriously damaged China’s economic, political, cultural and social activities. The ten-year long struggle, from 1966 to the fall of the “gang of four” in 1976, left a deep scar on China.

The rehabilitation of Liu is part of the attempt of the Party to heal the wounds, and as it stated in its own words, “not only for his own sake, but in order that the Party and the people will forever remember this bitter lesson and make every effort to safeguard, consolidate and perfect socialist democracy and the socialist legal system.”

The resignations of the four party leaders from their posts apparently was related to Liu’s case and the Cultural Revolution, as the four had been identified in the past as strongly anti-Liu forces. The communique did not give the reasons for the resignations, nor did it elaborate on Liu’s policies or activities.