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The Chinese Revolution of 1949

Discuss about the Governing China From Revolution through Reform.

The Chinese Revolution of 1949 led to the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Having achieved its peak in 1945, the war was a history of progressive hostilities between civil groups. Some of the factors contributing to this revolution include the Second Sino-Japanese war and Chinese Civil Conflict. This resulted in the communist takeover of China, which remained under the Manchu or Qing Dynasty. Declared by Mao Zedong as the People’s Republic of China the Communist government received global recognition. Experienced military leaders such as Mao Zedong and Lin Biao led these wars. The latter played a major role in the Cultural Revolution of China.

Although he encountered his death during his service to the Communist Party of China, Lin’s death became a riddle. His military role as Marshal of the People’s Republic or field commander was in the Red Army, a pivotal group in the power struggle. He was also central to the Chinese Civil War and served as a commander in major regions. His service in the government included a vice president’s role in the Communist Party in 1958, head of defense in 1959. His involvement is military headship delivered victories in some regions. Consequently, he gained enmity with different warlords. Based on his military prowess and loyalty to the Mao regime, the coup allegations raised questions about whether his death had political motivations. This paper carries out an analysis of these questions in an attempt to present possible explanations.

Before his death in 1971, Lin was the next successor to Mao Zedong. The two had a close relationship but Li posed a challenge to the Mao regime. Accused for trying to take over Mao Zedong’s leadership, he died in mysterious circumstances. Highly motivated by socialism and communist activities, Lin was a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CPP)[1]. Killed in a mysterious plane accident, Biao was Mao’s closest ally. A trial of the historical case featuring Lin’s co-plotters revealed a quest for personal struggle as Lin’s allies faced a purge. It took the trial of close to unravel certain mysteries about Biaio’s accident. Thousands of military officers and government officials across all ranks faced interrogations, some faced jail terms while others remained under house arrest. The gravity of the sentences included more than fifteen years of imprisonment[2]. The 1971 incident highlighted the numerous factors of the Chinese Cultural Revolution involving differences in ideologies, institutional bureaucracies, social and human factors. Personalities influenced the political culture and Chinese institutions like the government and military revealed social relationships[3]. Political parties had loyalists and anti-party cliques and secret plans against Mao’s leadership styles took place. Those allied to Lin maintained a secretive personal relationship but betrayal was also part of the interactions.

Factors contributing to the revolution

Members of such groups revealed the plot to remove Mao as a personal plan that culminated into a class power struggle. Of particular interest was different economic ideologies with Lin’s allies opposing Mao’s plans thoughts about rapid growth. Such ideas became a source of conflict and Mao who was an authoritarian leader viewed this as a challenge of his authority, his leadership. Mao wanted to remain the main theorist of major ideologies therefore; he ignored collective efforts from other in government. He came up with contradicting agricultural and business theories that did not augur well with some members of his socialist party. Mao Zedong and Lin Biao were close enough that the plane crash raised questions leaving an unresolved mystery. Emerging ideas about Lin’s attempted coup and the role played by his family included his wife Ye Qun and Lin Liguo his son. This Cultural Revolution sparked by personal ambition explains the characteristics of traditional and modern Chinese society.

Lin Biao was instrumental in the Communist’s 22-year rule and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. China’s power politics suffered the effects of civil strife from internal conflicts and Japanese imperialism and Li was part of these wars. As a warlord, Lin was an astute soldier who had numerous mentors. He took part in military uprising led by communist leaders such as Mao Zedong who headed the cult of personality, which became a popular. [4]Mao used propaganda, the media and political campaign to make people view him as a hero. Worshiped as a leader, his style subdued anyone who tried to question him. Instead, he took pride in praise hence his style of leadership was authoritarian. As Lin became a close ally to Mao Zedong, his crave for power became stronger. Borrowing from his superior, Lin gained the respect of other military leaders. He won both local and international battles such as the Sino Japanese wars and the Manchuria Civil War. News of Lin Biao’s death with accusations that he had attempted to overturn the government came as a surprise and remains a mystery[5].

In order to understand the Chinese Cultural Revolution, it is necessary to understand the culture of power. Mao disguised his purpose as a people’s leader yet in essence, he sought his own personal gain. Hoping to rule for eternity, he was unwilling to share power. This created internal conflicts and class enemies as friends became secrete foes. The socialist party comprised of intellectuals like Lin Biaio who craved for change. The sociopolitical movement in China initiated by Zedong became Cultural Revolution whose intention was to shape China’s Communist ideology[6]. It was against the capitalist society and its economic ideas. The class struggle spread its wings to the military and other government institutions infiltrating the top leaders with a class struggle. Those who opposed Mao Zedung’s ideas faced death, public frustration, torture and prison terms.

Lin Biao's military role

Mao derived his strength from the military and his policies encountered local and global opposition from Russia. On the other hand, Lin and other anti-Maoists found support from Russia. This may have contributed to his elimination because Mao expected complete loyalty in support of his superstructure.  Although Lin Biao was at the front line in supporting Mao’s overthrow of the old customs, cultural beliefs and practices, he later initiated plans to resist Mao’s authoritarian reign[7]. The Chinese Proletarian revolutionary’s ambition in a plane crash in an attempt to flee to Russia. Although reports indicate that, his plane ran out of fuel, revelations of his demise came with a purge of military and political leaders close to him. Mao is on record for staging deaths on his subordinates including Liu and Peng. The fallout with Lin started in 1970 when Mao started interfering with Lin’s control over the People’s Liberation Army. Mao’s atrocities included elimination of rivals in political and military institutions. High-ranking officials like Zhou Enlai faced demotions and this created enmity in the regime. Lin had supporters who shared ideological views and political positions. Before his planned flight to Russia, Lin faced demotions and reduced power as Mao tried to scale down on political criticisms.

Although Lin promoted Maos personality cult, he fell out with Mao because of certain criticisms that he made. Lin started the People’s Liberation Army in 1960s in support of Mao’s theories. He became popular in key industries like agriculture, education and commerce[8]. In 1970 when Mao began reducing Lin’s political control it was evident that Mao was staging a plot to purge some of Lin’s loyalists. Together with his allies, Lin made secret plans to assassinate Mao. Mao started questioning Lin’s genuineness and there are reports of possible betrayal from Lin’s family members that leaked this planned coup[9]. The alleged assassination plans made by Lin were unsuccessful; reports indicate that bodyguards foiled the plans. With missing explanations on this hero’s death, attempts to unravel the mystery indicate that Lin died while trying to flee to the Soviet Union. His plane crash came with sackings of military officials attached to his group. It is also evident that Lin was critical about Mao in his writings in which he points out that ‘Mao worshiped himself and his opinions were final rules’[10]. It is no wonder that documents about Lin’s disappearance and his memoirs were destroyed after his death[11].

Mystery surrounding Lin Biao's death

Many people in the Chinese society failed to understand why Lin died mysteriously yet he was the proposed heir in Mao’s government. Suspicious activities in Biaos daily life raised security concerns and several days before his alleged accident, Lin seemed unwell. In the regime, it was impossible to think of challenging Mao[12]. More people had lodged secrete complaints against Mao and Lin seemed strong enough to stage a revolution. Although Mao felt confident in Lin as his main advisor, he developed sudden doubts. Secret documents discovered later revealed this planned revolution with Lin at the center of it.

The Chinese Civil War involved the Kuomintang (KMT), which was under the Republic of China. It fought against the Communist Party of China (CPC) leading to ideological divisions and the civil strife between the KMTT and CPC. This rivalry also had internal splits between soldiers. From the Communist Party Came the Republic of China. The onset of such conflicts culminated in the development of the major military pressures. Although CPC and KMT formed an alliance, its unity was not real[13]. By 1941, this hostility was evident and thousands of people died in the conflicts. The political conflicts coupled with military mistakes contributed to create rivalry amongst top-level leadership. Therefore, political turmoil in China shaped its bureaucratic structures and nationalistic ideologies leading to the creation of powerful elite. These elitists’ rules using propaganda and instruments of coercive control making the government the sole instrument of social and economic power. Lin’s role in the revolution explains the quest for reforms and the role played by political systems in critical areas. The result was a multilateral regime with political movements shaping the social life[14].

Lin was an astute soldier who learnt lessons from guerilla warfare leaders. He also had a grasp on Mao’s government, having served in economic and political spheres. His position as the next heir to the Mao regime may have given him confidence to stage a revolt. He left a legacy of a successful military leader but he was also a powerful influencer to Mao and his allies. He was a senior commander in the army and he led strong forces that ambushed and made surprise attacks. He also had a close relationship with Russia despite receiving criticism from his peers in the military. This may have contributed to his demise because he stood as an obstacle to Mao’s ambitions and ideologies[15]. During his tenure as a defense minister, Lin collided with other leaders because of his strategic plans that differed with those in power. Although Mao approved reforms by Lin he did not approve of some of Lins subordinates like his chief of staff.

Lin Biao's relationship with Mao Zedong

Conclusion

Lin Biao’s death came as a surprise to many but it was inevitable in Mao’s reign. Characterized by political atrocities this leadership had many surprises. Motivated by military ideologies, Mao relied on successful soldiers like Lin Biao for guidance. The authoritarian rule manipulated major instruments of power keeping citizens in the dark about what was happening in the political scene. Seen as a superior being, Mao craved for absolute power leading to a corrupted system. The emergence of an internal revolution in his government was not strange in the Chinese political and social scene. A historical analysis also reveals the role played by external parties including Japanese and Russians. Lin’s involvement with Mao’s enemies may have led to his death, staged as a plane crash.

Jiang, Qin, and Lin, Biaio. 1981. A great trial in Chinese history: The trial of the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counter-revolutionary cliques, Nov. 1980-Jan. 1981. Beijing, China: New World Press

Kau, Michael Y.M (ed). 1999. The Lin Biao Affair: Power Politics and Military Coup. In, Qin Jin. The Culture of Power: The Lin Biao Incident in the Cultural Revolution. New York, International Arts and Science Press, p, 163-165

Lieberthal, Kenneth. 2003. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform.2d edition. W.W. Norton & Company

Qiu. Jin. 1999. The Culture of Power: The Lin Biaio Incident in Cultural Revolution. Stanford University Press: 1st Edition

Qiu. Jin.1995. The Lin Biao Incident: A study of extra-Institutional Factors in the Cultural Revolution, 1995. UMI Company, USA. Available <file:///C:/Users/BAT/Downloads/uhm_phd_9604163_r.pdf>

Vien, Thomas. 2015. The Cautionary Tale of China’s Lin Biao. World View. Available at https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/cautionary-tale-chinas-lin-biao

Walder, Andrew. 2009. Fractured Rebellion. The Beijing Red Guard Movement. Cambridge, Harvard University Press

[1] Q. Jiang and B. Lin. A great trial in Chinese history: The trial of the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counter-revolutionary cliques, Nov. 1980-Jan. 1981. Beijing, China: New World Press

[2] Q. Jin. The Lin Biao Incident: A study of extra-Institutional Factors in the Cultural Revolution, 1995. UMI Company, USA. Available <file:///C:/Users/BAT/Downloads/uhm_phd_9604163_r.pdf>

[3] Ibid, p, 141

[4] Q. Jin. The Culture of Power: The Lin Biaio Incident in Cultural Revolution. Stanford University Press: 1st Edition, 1999

[5] Ibid, p, 107

[6] A. Walder. Fractured Rebellion. The Beijing Red Guard Movement. Cambridge, Harvard University Press

[7]T. Vien. The Cautionary Tale of China’s Lin Biao. World View. Available at <https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/cautionary-tale-chinas-lin-biao>

[8] K. Michael., ed.The Lin Biao Affair: Power Politics and Military Coup. In, Qin Jin. The Culture of Power: The Lin Biao Incident in the Cultural Revolution. New York, International Arts and Science Press, p, 163-165

[9] Ibid, p, 57

[10] Jin, p, 145

[11] Ibid, p, 200

[12] Jin, p, 167

[13] Kenneth, L. Governing China: From Revolution through Reform.2d edition. W.W. Norton & Company, 2003

[14] Ibid, p, 364

[15] Jiang, and Lin, 1981, p, 62-65

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