Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

By Yan Jiaqi; Gao Gao et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 17

The Lushan Conference
[1970]

The Ninth Congress:
Firming up the Mao Zedong-Lin Biao System

According to the Chinese Communist Party Constitution, those elected to the National Party Congress and the Central Committee of the Party were to serve five-year terms.' The Central Committee was to be elected by the Party Congress. The Central Politburo and its Standing Committee and the chairman and deputy chairman of the Central Committee were to be elected by the plenum of the Central Committee. The constitution further stipulated that, during the recess of the National Party Congress, the Central Committee of the Party would lead all work of the Party, and the Politburo and its Standing Committee would carry out all work of the Central Committee during this period. The highest leadership of the Chinese Communist Party was the National Party Congress, but the actual power resided with the Politburo, the chairman and the deputy chairman. According to these regulations, the Central Committee convened a National Party Congress once a year. Under special circumstances, the Central Committee could postpone or move up the yearly meeting. Election every five years could very well cause personnel changes among the leaders of the Party.

The Party chairmanship would be jeopardized if the chairman were to lose his reputation and become unable to command a majority in the Central Committee. Ever since the September 1956 meeting of the Eighth Central Committee and because of the various mistakes Mao committed during the Great Leap Forward and the People's Commune movement and the criticism of Mao by Peng Dehuai during the Lushan Conference of 1959, Mao's authority was shaken in the eyes of many. Mao knew of these threats to his power and therefore resorted repeatedly to class struggles to eradicate his opponents within the Party. He also postponed, year after year without stating

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