China's Cultural Revolution, 1966-1969: Not a Dinner Party

By Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

57
"Seal the Coffin and Pass the Final Verdict"

Mao Zedong

Source: This is a record of remarks Mao is alleged to have made in conversation with Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, Jiang Qing, Hua Guofeng, Wu De, and Wang Hairong on 15 June (possibly 13 January) 1976. Our translation collates the transcript reprinted in Wang Nianyi, Da dongluan de niandai (Years of Great Turmoib) ( Zhengzhou: Henan renmin chubanshe, 1988), pp. 600-601, and the handwritten excerpt included in a collection of documents donated in 1989 to the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research Library, Harvard University, by an anonymous member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

It's rare for a man to live to the age of seventy, and now I am already past eighty. When one has reached the end, one cannot help but think about one's funeral arrangements. There is a Chinese saying, "Seal the coffin and pass the final verdict." Although the lid is not yet on my coffin, the moment is drawing near, and I think the final judgment can already be passed. I've done two things in my lifetime. On, was battle all those years against Chiang Kai-shek and in the end chase him off to that little island. In the War of Resistance, I asked the Japanese to return to their ancestral home. Battling back and forth, I finally battled my way into the Forbidden City. Only a tiny number of people would argue with me about this. At most, some would say I should have reclaimed that island a long time ago. The other thing, as you know, was to launch the Great Cultural Revolution. Here I don't have many supporters, and I have quite a few opponents. The Great Cultural Revolution is something that has not yet been concluded. Thus I am passing the task on to the next generation. I may not be able to pass it on peacefully, in which case I may have to pass it on in turmoil. What will happen to the next generation if it all fails? There may be a foul wind and a rain of blood. How will you cope? Heaven only knows!

-293-

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