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

By Keith Forster | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

The previous pages have described at length the factional politics in Zhejiang during the years 1966-76. It is clear that the rebel leaders of 1966-69 played a major role in events in the province from the time of the CCP's 10th National Congress until mid 1975, when the center reimposed order with the ultimate weapon -- military force. This was the first time the PLA had intervened on such a scale in domestic affairs since the Wuhan incident of July 1967. It demonstrated more than anything else the extent to which factionalism had paralyzed and split the provincial leadership and plunged it into crisis. Responsibility for this outcome rested largely on the shoulders of three men, Zhang Yongsheng, Weng Senhe and He Xianchun, whose actions have been detailed above. Supported by Wang Hongwen and other national radicals, but also able to elicit support from factory workers in the main industrial units of Hangzhou in particular, they were able to unleash a range of attacks on the leadership in the province.

In 1974 the membership of the "double-criticism small group" was decided upon by Zhang, Weng and He in consultation with their sympathizers on the municipal and provincial party committees. This group then set the agenda, held the meetings and arranged speakers to run the anti-Lin anti-Confucius political campaign in the first half of 1974. Out of the public arena, a lengthy conference involving leading civilian and military bodies, which was directed and manipulated by the same rebels, applied further pressure to the provincial leadership. Additionally, the three rebel leaders attended meetings of the ZPC standing committee as observers, and no doubt their presence worked to unsettle that body's proceedings. Officially-sanctioned bodies such as the militia headquarters terrorized political opponents of the "mountain top" faction and acted as the faction's armed force. The Hangzhou workers' congress convened numerous public meetings and conducted the campaign as if it was independent from party control, demonstrating further that control over the political process had slipped from the hands of Beijing's authorized representatives in Zhejiang. Party branches at both organizations became places where loyalty and activism was rewarded by admission to the CCP and appointment to official positions.

Yet for all their power and prominence, the rebels' cause was transitory and

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