Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

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

Chapter 23

Erasing the Stains of
the 1930s

Lan Ping

All of Jiang Qing's contemporaries knew that in the 1930s she had been a Shanghai film star with the stage name of Lan Ping. In 1934, Jiang Qing became famous overnight by playing the leading role in Ibsen's well‐ known play A Doll's House. Subsequently, she gained considerable notoriety because of her romantic entanglement with and then break-up with Tang Na. 1 In October 1937, she went to Yan'an, where Kang Sheng introduced her to Mao Zedong, whom she married in 1939. At that time she formally adopted the name of Jiang Qing. However, a part of her history was not known to many people. Jiang Qing joined the Communist Party in Qingdao in February 1933, but shortly afterward she lost contact with the Party. In the fall of 1933, she left Shandong for Shanghai, where she joined the Leftist Teachers' Alliance and the Communist Youth League. In October 1934, she was arrested by the Guomindang. 2 That December, she wrote a statement from prison, declaring, "I have never joined the Communist Party. Communism is not appropriate to China's situation. And I will never join it in my life." She was set free on bail after she filled out a form of "confessional registration." After she left prison, Jiang Qing tarried around opulent Shanghai. 3 In September 1936, she participated in the celebration of Chiang Kai-shek's fiftieth birthday and performed in the play Proposing Marriage (Qiuhun) in the Golden City Opera House. Most of her romantic affairs occurred during this period.

After Jiang Qing arrived at Yan'an from Xi'an in 1937, she concealed the fact that she had betrayed the Party while under arrest and reentered it with fabricated testimony provided by another traitor. During the "rectification movement" in Yan'an, Kang Sheng personally participated in Jiang Qing's group meeting and protected her from being criticized on her past, saying, "I know all about Jiang Qing's activities in the 'white' area. You don't have to

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