Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

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

Chapter 8

From "Down with Tao Zhu"
to Retaliating against the
February Adverse Current

The Demise of Tao Zhu

Before the Cultural Revolution, Tao Zhu was deputy premier of the State Council and first secretary of the Central-South Bureau of the Central Committee. In May 1966, during the enlarged meeting of the Politburo, Tao Zhu also became secretary of the Party Central Secretariat. At the same meeting, Lu Dingyi was criticized and dismissed as minister of propaganda, a post that went to Tao Zhu. Tao Zhu was appointed to the Central Small Group shortly after its establishment. In August 1966, during the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth Party Congress and the reordering of the standing members of the Politburo, Mao Zedong used a red pen to move Tao Zhu's name from the end of the list to a position between Zhou Enlai's name and Chen Boda's, making Tao the number four leader. During the early stages of the Cultural Revolution, Tao Zhu had always been an active figure of the Central Small Group. Yet, like the majority of leaders at the highest level, Tao Zhu did not "understand this revolution." Tao himself, of course, believed that as an important Chinese leader he was resolute in class struggle and in execution of the Cultural Revolution, following faithfully the intent of Mao Zedong. But when the outcry to topple Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping swept the country, his lack of "understanding" became an impediment to the removal of Liu and Deng, with the result that he too had to be removed.

During the Central working session held October 9-28, 1966, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were harshly criticized. The details of the meetings were leaked as planned. On October 25, about three hundred members of the Central Organization Department, having decided to expose and criticize Liu and Deng, requested that they be allowed to turn in their written pledges to Mao Zedong and the Party Central in Zhongnanhai. When they liaised with Tao Zhu, Tao, not fully comprehending the background of the criticism of Liu

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