Zhou under Pressure
Wang Hongwen did not have the star power of a Lin Biao, so he would have to understudy for the part of successor. For the moment, Zhou had to occupy the uncomfortable role of No. 2 to which Lin's demise had elevated him. But Zhou's health posed a severe problem for the Chairman. On the one hand, since Mao could not be sure that he would outlive Zhou, he had to find means to constrain the premier and protect the legacy of the Cultural Revolution. On the other hand, Zhou's illness caused uneasiness among the elite. If Zhou were to die before Mao, who would emerge as heir apparent? Wang Hongwen might seem like a comer to Mao, but to veterans of the Long March he was but a whippersnapper, "a puppy, / Barely weaned."1 In his enfeebled condition Mao could not risk a backlash among the PLA generals. He had to find somebody who could restrain Zhou Enlai and simultaneously inspire trust among the old guard. So Mao took another, even riskier gamble. In the spring of 1973, he recalled Deng Xiaoping to the colors.
The No. 2 "capitalist roader" had spent the previous three and a half years in Jiangxi province. Like other senior cadres, he had been evacuated from Beijing in October 1969, when Mao feared a Soviet surprise attack. Deng was moved with his wife, Zhuo Lin, and stepmother to a small apartment on the grounds of an old infantry school on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Nanchang. Deng and Zhuo Lin worked mornings in a local factory that repaired agricultural machinery. Deng was found a job as a fitter, doing what he had done as a workstudy student at the Renault factory in France forty years earlier. A young soldier was assigned to them to look after the heavier household chores. Their elder son, Pufang, crippled as a result of a jump from a dormitory window at Peking Uni-