Rebellion and Factionalism in a Chinese Province: Zhejiang, 1966-1976

By Keith Forster | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
MILITARY RULE IN ZHEJIANG, 1969-72

In the four and a half years which elapsed between the CCP's 9th ( 1969) and 10th (1973) National Congresses, fierce political struggles continued unabated within the upper echelons of the party. Provincial officials became intimately involved in these disputes which revolved around such issues as party reconstruction, the role of the PLA in the political, economic and social spheres, the evolution of the political institutions and groups brought into existence by the Cultural Revolution, and the respective roles and relationship between military cadres, civilian officials and mass organization representatives within leading groups.

It was a period in which the ascendancy that the military had gained during the years 1967-69 aroused concern among sections of the Chinese leadership, Mao Zedong in particular. Various commentators have pointed to the irony of the situation in which the most disciplined, unaccountable and authoritarian component of the state structure was able to emerge triumphant from a political movement that had, among its alleged objectives, the loosening of a constrictive political system and the participation of a broader spectrum of the population in the political processes.1 At the 9th Party Congress Lin Biao had been officially written into the statutes of the party constitution as Mao's designated successor. However, the obstructions placed in the way of party reconstruction after 1969 and the political strength of regional military commanders, some of whom were loyal to Lin and his central military faction, provoked the opposition of powerful groups within the CCP.2

In Zhejiang, the new leaders of the ZPRC were overwhelmingly from a military background and from military units directly answerable and loyal to their central military patron, Lin Biao. Although Nan Ping, Xiong Yingtang and Chen Liyun, like most officers in the Zhejiang military district, had served in the 3rd Field Army before 1949 they were not senior officers. The Cultural Revolution had boosted their careers and brought them directly into the political arena. These military officials were less tied to the locality in which they served than any previous provincial leadership since 1949. Teiwes has tabulated this phenomenon for

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