Dispatching Liu Shaoqi
Mao's intention had all along been to time the CCP's Ninth Congress to coincide with the successful conclusion of the "first" Cultural Revolution.1 But before beginning the construction of his brave new world, Mao evidently decided it was necessary to prepare the ground by completing the destruction of the old order. This principally meant finally disposing of Liu Shaoqi, the satanic figure of Cultural Revolution demonology. The dénouement was accomplished at the CC's Twelfth Plenum, which met in Beijing from October 13 to 31, 1968, a little over two years after the dramatic Eleventh Plenum at which Liu had first been toppled from his place as heir apparent.
The Twelfth Plenum was chaired by Mao and was one of the most remarkable gatherings in the party's forty-seven-year history. At the Eleventh Plenum, Mao had had to bully his colleagues, whose lack of enthusiasm for his measures was evident. By the time of the Twelfth Plenum, those colleagues who had survived were too cowed to drag their feet or offer lukewarm support. Almost threequarters of the full and alternate CC members formally qualified to attend had come under suspicion of being "traitors" or "counterrevolutionaries." Of the eighty-seven living full members, only forty were invited to attend. Of the ninety-six alternate members appointed at the two sessions of the CCP's Eighth Congress in 1956 and 1958, only nineteen were at the plenum. Ten alternates (including four generals, one lieutenant general, and four political commissars) were appointed to full membership on the opening day to replace the ten who had died since the Eighth Congress, two by their own hand during the Cultural Revolution. These promotions brought the number of full members present up to the 51 percent needed to make any plenum vote formally legal. In addition to the fifty-nine full and alternate CC members, seventy-four members of the CCRG, MAC administration, provincial revolutionary committees, military regions, and organs directly under the CC attended this "enlarged" plenum and