Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

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

Chapter 13

Climbing the Leadership
Ladder

From the May 16 Circular to the Eleventh Plenum
of the Eighth Party Congress

On May 4, 1966, the Politburo convened an enlarged meeting to discuss the questions of Peng Zhen, Lu Dingyi, Luo Ruiqing, and Yang Shangkun. After the May 16 Circular was passed on the morning of May 18 with Mao as chairman, Lin Biao made what was in practical terms the concluding speech of the meeting. Aside from making conclusions about Peng, Luo, Lu, and Yang, and in a effort to please Mao, Lin devoted most of his talk to political power and political coups, praising Mao's genius as above that of Marx, Engels, and Lenin. He said,

Every day that Chairman Mao is alive, until he is ninety, one hundred, he shall always be our supreme leader, and his words shall be the standard of our actions. Whoever opposes him deserves to be slain by the entire Party and apprehended by the entire country. Behind such a person, whoever makes secret reports like a Khrushchev must be a careerist and a rotten egg. The entire Party will slay him, the entire country will apprehend him.

Those participating in the meeting had the impression that Lin Biao had achieved a very important position within the Chinese Communist Party. Lin Biao's speech showed that not only were he and Mao close, but that he and Jiang Qing shared a close relationship as well. His strength, enjoining that of the Central Small Group, augmented Mao's absolute authority during the Cultural Revolution.

The Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth Party Congress, held August 1-12, 1966, afforded Lin Biao the opportunity to show off his skills. During the meetings, he conferred with Mao often about the Cultural Revolution. For his part, Mao directed the Central Small Group through Lin Biao to use Beijing as

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