Hu Yaobang

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Hu Yaobang
胡耀邦
Young Hu Yiaobang.jpg
Hu Yaobang during the 1940s
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
In office
12 September 1982 15 January 1987
President Li Xiannian
Premier Zhao Ziyang
Preceded byHimself (as Chairman)
Succeeded by Zhao Ziyang
Chairman of the Communist Party of China
In office
29 June 1981 12 September 1982
Deputy Ye Jianying
Preceded by Hua Guofeng
Succeeded byHimself (as General Secretary)
Secretary-General of the CPC Central Secretariat
In office
29 February 1980 12 September 1982
Chairman Hua Guofeng
Himself
Preceded by Deng Xiaoping (in 1966)
Succeeded byPost abolished
Personal details
Born(1915-11-20)20 November 1915
Liuyang, Hunan
Died15 April 1989(1989-04-15) (aged 73)
Beijing
NationalityChinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s)
Li Zhao
(m. 1941;his death 1989)
Relations Hu Deping (eldest son)
Hu Liu (second son)
Hu Dehua (third son)
Li Heng (daughter)

Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang (Chinese characters).svg
"Hu Yaobang" in Chinese characters
Chinese 胡耀邦

Hu Yaobang (20 November 1915 – 15 April 1989) was a high-ranking official of the People's Republic of China. He held the top office of the Communist Party of China from 1981 to 1987, first as Chairman from 1981 to 1982, then as General Secretary from 1982 to 1987. Hu joined the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping in the 1970s. During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Hu was purged, recalled, and purged again by Mao Zedong.

Communist Party of China Political party of the Peoples Republic of China

The Communist Party of China (CPC), also referred to as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China. The Communist Party is the sole governing party within mainland China, permitting only eight other, subordinated parties to co-exist, those making up the United Front. It was founded in 1921, chiefly by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao. The party grew quickly, and by 1949 it had driven the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) government from mainland China after the Chinese Civil War, leading to the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It also controls the world's largest armed forces, the People's Liberation Army.

Chairman of the Communist Party of China Leader of the Communist Party of China between 1943 and 1982

The Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was the head of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It was established at the 8th National Congress in 1945 and abolished at the 12th National Congress in 1982, and was succeeded by the General Secretary of the Central Committee. Offices with the name Chairman of the Central Executive Committee in 1922–1923 and Chairman of the Central Committee existed in 1928–1931. For information about these offices, see the article leader of the Communist Party of China

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China The head of the Communist Party of China and the de facto Leader of China

The General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is head of the Communist Party of China and the highest-ranking official within the People's Republic of China. The General Secretary is a standing member of the Politburo and head of the Secretariat. The officeholder is usually considered the "paramount leader" of China.

Contents

After Deng rose to power, following the death of Mao Zedong, Hu was promoted to a series of high political positions. Throughout the 1980s Hu pursued a series of economic and political reforms under the direction of Deng. Hu's political and economic reforms made him the enemy of several powerful Party elders, who opposed free market reforms and attempts to make China's government more transparent. When widespread student protests occurred across China in 1987, Hu's political opponents successfully blamed Hu for the disruptions, claiming that Hu's "laxness" and "bourgeois liberalization" had either led to, or worsened, the protests. Hu was forced to resign as Party general secretary in 1987, but was allowed to retain a seat in the Politburo.

Mao Zedong Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

The Eight Great Eminent Officials, abbreviated as the Eight Elders, were a group of elderly members of the Communist Party of China who held substantial power during the 1980s and 1990s. In the English-speaking world, these men are often called The Eight Immortals as an allusion to the Taoist deities commonly known as the Eight Immortals.

Student demonstrations took place in a number of Chinese cities from December 1986 until mid-January 1987. The demonstrations started in the city of Hefei before spreading to other cities such as Shanghai and Nanjing. The movement was heavily influenced by the Chinese intellectuals Fang Lizhi and Wang Ruowang, who were critical of the Chinese government’s lack of political reforms. The demonstrations quickly dissipated by mid-January before achieving any of its stated goals. The lack of response from Hu Yaobang, who was General Secretary of the Communist Party of China at the time, would result in his removal from power on January 15, 1987 and his replacement by Zhao Ziyang.

Hu's position as Party general secretary was taken by Zhao Ziyang, who continued many of Hu's economic and political reforms. A day after Hu's death, in 1989, a small-scale demonstration commemorated him and demanded that the government reassess his legacy. A week later, the day before Hu's funeral, some 100,000 students marched on Tiananmen Square, leading to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. This was a part of the Chinese Democracy Movement. Following the government's violent suppression of the 1989 protests, the Chinese government censored the details of Hu's life within mainland China, but it officially rehabilitated his image and lifted its censorship restrictions on the 90th anniversary of Hu's birth, in 2005.

Zhao Ziyang former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China

Zhao Ziyang was a high-ranking statesman in China. He was the third Premier of the People's Republic of China from 1980 to 1987, Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1981 to 1982, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1987 to 1989. He lost power in connection with the reformative neoauthoritarianism current and his support of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Early years

Young revolutionary

Hu Yaobang at Yanan in the 1930s Huyaobang at yanan.jpg
Hu Yaobang at Yanan in the 1930s

Hu Yaobang's ancestors were Hakkas [1] [2] from Jiangxi. During the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) they migrated into Hunan, where Hu was born. [3] Hu Yaobang was born into a poor peasant family, and received little formal education. As a child he never attended school, and he taught himself to read. Hu participated in his first rebellion when he was twelve, left his family to join the Chinese Communist Party when he was only fourteen, [4] and became a full member of the Party in 1933. [5] During the factional struggles that polarized the CCP during the 1930s, Hu supported Mao Zedong and opposed the 28 Bolsheviks.

Jiangxi Province

Jiangxi is a province in the People's Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze river in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest.

Ming dynasty Former empire in Eastern Asia, last Han Chinese-led imperial regime

The Ming dynasty was the ruling dynasty of China – then known as the Great Ming Empire – for 276 years (1368–1644) following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan dynasty. The Ming dynasty was the last imperial dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the primary capital of Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng, regimes loyal to the Ming throne – collectively called the Southern Ming – survived until 1683.

Hunan Province

Hunan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze watershed in South Central China; it borders the province-level divisions of Hubei to the north, Jiangxi to the east, Guangdong and Guangxi to the south, Guizhou to the west, and Chongqing to the northwest. With a population of just over 67 million as of 2014 residing in an area of approximately 210,000 km2 (81,000 sq mi), it is China's 7th most populous and the 10th most extensive province-level by area.

Hu was one of the youngest veterans of the Long March. [6] Once Mao was removed from power, shortly before the beginning of the Fourth Encirclement Campaign, Mao's supporters were persecuted, and Hu Yaobang was sentenced to death. Just before the beginning of the Long March, he and others were on their way to be beheaded. However, a powerful local communist commander named Tan Yubao intervened at the last minute, saving Hu's life. Because of Hu's support of Mao, he was deemed unreliable and ordered to join the Long March so that he could be placed under surveillance.[ citation needed ]

Long March Military campaign during the Chinese Civil War

The Long March was a military retreat undertaken by the Red Army of the Communist Party of China, the forerunner of the People's Liberation Army, to evade the pursuit of the Kuomintang army. There was not one Long March, but a series of marches, as various Communist armies in the south escaped to the north and west. The best known is the march from Jiangxi province which began in October 1934. The First Front Army of the Chinese Soviet Republic, led by an inexperienced military commission, was on the brink of annihilation by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's troops in their stronghold in Jiangxi province. The Communists, under the eventual command of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, escaped in a circling retreat to the west and north, which reportedly traversed over 9,000 kilometers over 370 days. The route passed through some of the most difficult terrain of western China by traveling west, then north, to Shaanxi.

The Fourth Encirclement Campaign is an abbreviated name used for several different encirclement campaigns launched by the Nationalist Government with the goal of destroying the developing Chinese Red Army and its communist bases. The battles took place in several separate locations in China during the early stage of Chinese Civil War, between the late 1920s to mid-1930s. These are:

Tan Yubao was a Chinese communist. He was born in Chaling County, Zhuzhou, Hunan Province. He was chairman of the communist base (Soviet) on the border of Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces. He once intervened to save the life of Hu Yaobang. He was a delegate to the 3rd National People's Congress.

Hu Yaobang was seriously wounded in the battle of Mount Lu, near Zunyi, close to the area where Mao Zedong rose back to power via the Zunyi Conference. [7] After Hu was wounded the communist field medic teams chose not to help Hu, and left him in the battlefield to die on the side of the road. Hu was rescued by a childhood friend of his, a Chinese Red Army commander, who happened to pass by. Hu called out his friend's nickname to ask for help, and the friend helped him catch up with the retreating main force of the Chinese Red Army and get treatment for his wounds.[ citation needed ]

Mount Lu mountain in central China

Mount Lu or Lushan, also known as Kuanglu (匡庐) in ancient times, is situated in the northern part of Jiangxi province in Central China, and is one of the most renowned mountains in the country. It is located primarily in Lushan county-level city in Jiujiang Prefecture, although the northern portions are found in Lianxi District which was formerly known as Lushan District and until 2016 covered the majority of the Mount Lu. The oval-shaped mountains are about 25 km long and 10 km wide, and neighbors Jiujiang city and the Yangtze River to the north, Nanchang city to the south, and Poyang Lake to the east. Its highest point is Dahanyang Peak (大汉阳峰), reaching 1,474 m above sea level, and is one of the hundreds of steep peaks that towers above a sea of clouds that encompass the mountains for almost 200 days out of the year. Mount Lu is known for its grandeur, steepness, and beauty, and is part of Lushan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, and a prominent tourist attraction, especially during the summer months when the weather is cooler.

Zunyi Prefecture-level city in Guizhou, Peoples Republic of China

Zunyi is a prefecture-level city in northern Guizhou province, People's Republic of China, situated between the provincial capital Guiyang to the south and Chongqing to the north, also bordering Sichuan to the northwest. Along with Guiyang and Liupanshui, it is one of the most important cities of the province. The built-up area made of three urban districts of the city, Huichuan, Honghuagang, and Bozhou, had a population of 1,095,189 people; and the whole prefecture, including 14 county-level administration area as a whole, has a population of 6,127,009 at the 2010 census.

Zunyi Conference meeting of the Communist Party of China in January 1935

The Zunyi Conference was a meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in January 1935 during the Long March. This meeting involved a power struggle between the leadership of Bo Gu and Otto Braun and the opposition led by Mao Zedong. The result was that Mao left the meeting in position to take over military command and become the leader of the Communist Party. The conference was completely unacknowledged until the 1950s and still no detailed descriptions were available until the fiftieth anniversary in 1985.

In 1936, Hu joined an expeditionary force led by Zhang Guotao. The objective of Zhang's 21,800+ strong force, was to cross the Yellow River, to expand the communist base west of Shaanxi, and to link up with forces from the Soviet Union or with the Xinjiang warlord Sheng Shicai, who was an ally of the communists and the Soviet Union. Zhang Guotao's forces were soundly defeated by the local Nationalist warlords, the Ma clique. Hu Yaobang, along with Qin Jiwei, became two of the thousands of prisoners-of-war captured by Ma clique's forces. Hu was one of only 1,500 prisoners-of-war whom Ma Bufang decided to use as forced labor rather than execute.[ citation needed ]

Ma Bufang sent several Muslim cavalry divisions under General Ma Biao to fight against the Japanese. However Chiang Kai-shek pressured Ma Bufang to contribute even more of his troops to fight Japanese invaders, Ma Bufang decided that, instead of using more of his own troops, he would instead send the 1,500 Chinese Red Army prisoners-of-war as conscripts. Since the marching route had to pass the border of the communist base in Shaanxi, Hu Yaobang and Qin Jiwei decided to return to the Communists, and secretly organized an escape. The escape took place as planned and was a success: out of the total 1,500 POWs, more than 1,300 successfully returned to Yan'an. Mao personally welcomed these returning communists, and Hu Yaobang returned to communist forces, where he would remain for rest of his life.[ citation needed ]

After Hu arrived in Yan'an, he attended the Anti-Japanese Military School. While studying in Yan'an, Hu met and married his wife, Li Zhao, who was also a student in Yan'an. After his training, Hu worked in the political department, and was assigned to work as a member of Peng Dehuai's Third Front Army. [8]

Hu befriended and worked closely with Deng Xiaoping in the 1930s. In the 1940s, Hu worked under Deng as a political commissar in the Second Field Army. In the final stages of the Chinese Civil War, Hu accompanied Deng to Sichuan, and communist forces successfully took control of the province from Nationalist forces in 1949. [5]

Early PRC politician

Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right) 1953 huyaobang.jpg
Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right)

In 1949, the CCP successfully defeated Nationalist forces on mainland China, and the communists founded the People's Republic. In 1952, Hu accompanied Deng to Beijing, and Hu became the leader of the Communist Youth League from 1952–1966. [5] Hu rose rapidly up the Communist Party hierarchy, until Mao sent Hu to work as First Party Secretary of Shaanxi in 1964, saying: "He needs some practical training". Hu may have been assigned to work outside of Beijing because he was judged as being not sufficiently enthusiastic about Maoism. [9] Unlike many of his colleagues, Hu was able to keep his membership within the Party Central Committee until the 9th Party Congress in April 1969.

During the Cultural Revolution, Hu was purged twice and rehabilitated twice, mirroring the political career of Hu's mentor, Deng Xiaoping. [10] In 1969, Hu was recalled to Beijing to be persecuted. Hu became "number one" among the "Three Hus", whose names were vilified and who were paraded through Beijing wearing heavy wooden collars around their necks. The other two "Hus" were Hu Keshi, who was the second most senior member of the Communist Youth League, and Hu Qili, who was third most senior in the Communist Youth League and who had also become a close associate of Deng Xiaoping. After being publicly humiliated, Hu was sent to an isolated work camp to participate in "reformation through labour" under strict security. While in political exile Hu was forced to work hauling large boulders by hand. [9]

When Deng was temporarily recalled to Beijing, from 1973–1976, Hu was also recalled; but, when Deng was purged again, in 1976, Hu was also purged. [6] After his second purge, Hu was sent to herd cattle. [9] Hu was recalled and rehabilitated a second time in 1977, shortly after Mao's death. After Hu was recalled, he was promoted to directing the Party's organizational department, and later directed Party propaganda through a department of the Politburo. [5] Hu was one of the main leaders responsible for re-assessing the fates of people who had been persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. According to the Chinese government, Hu was personally responsible for exonerating over three million people. [10] Hu tacitly supported the 1978 Democracy Wall protesters, and invited two of the activists to his home in Beijing. Hu opposed Hua Guofeng's "Two Whatevers" policy, and was an important supporter of Deng Xiaoping's ascent to power. [9]

Reformer

Public policies

Hu Yaobang's rise to power was engineered by Deng Xiaoping, and Hu rose to the highest levels of the Party after Deng displaced Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader". In 1980 Hu became Party Secretary General, and was elected to the powerful Politburo Standing Committee. In 1981, Hu became CPC Chairman, but helped abolish the position of Party chairman in 1982, as part of a broader effort to distance China from Maoist politics. Most of the chairman's functions were transferred to the post of General Secretary, a post taken by Hu. Deng's displacement of Hua Guofeng marked the Party leadership's consensus that China should abandon strict Maoist economics in favor of more pragmatic policies, and Hu directed many of Deng's attempts to reform the Chinese economy. [5] By 1982, Hu was the second most powerful person in China, after Deng. [11] Throughout the last decade of Hu's career, he promoted the role of intellectuals as being fundamental to China's achievement of the Four Modernizations. [10]

During the early 1980s, Deng referred to Hu and Zhao Ziyang as his "left and right hands". [12] After advancing to the position of general secretary, Hu promoted a number of political reforms, often collaborating with Zhao. The ultimate goals of Hu's reforms were sometimes vaguely defined. Hu attempted to reform China's political system by: requiring candidates to be directly elected in order to enter the Politburo; holding more elections with more than one candidate; increasing government transparency; increasing public consultation before determining Party policy; and, increasing the degree that government officials could be held directly responsible for their mistakes. [13]

During his time in office, Hu tried to rehabilitate the people who were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. Many Chinese people think that this was his most important achievement. He was also in favor of a pragmatic policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region after realising the mistakes of previous policies. He ordered the withdrawal of thousands of Han Chinese cadres from the Tibet Autonomous Region following a May 1980 visit to the region, believing that Tibetans should be empowered to administer their own affairs. [14] Han Chinese who remained were required to learn Tibetan. [15] He set out six requirements to improve 'existing conditions', including the increase of state funds to the Tibet Autonomous Region, improvements in education, and efforts to revive Tibetan culture. [16] At the same time, Hu stated that "anything that is not suited to Tibet's conditions should be rejected or modified". [15] Hu made a point of explicitly apologizing to Tibetans for China's misrule of the region during this trip. [9]

Hu traveled widely throughout his time as general secretary, visiting 1500 individual districts and villages in order to inspect the work of local officials and to keep in touch with the common people. When he was sixty-five in 1971, Hu retraced the route of the Long March, and took the opportunity to visit and inspect remote military bases located in Tibet, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Qinghai, and Inner Mongolia. [17]

Controversial political opinions

Hu was notable for his liberalism and the frank expression of his opinions, which sometimes agitated other senior Chinese leaders. On a trip to Inner Mongolia in 1984, Hu publicly suggested that Chinese people might start eating in a Western way (with forks and knives, on individual plates) in order to prevent communicable diseases. He was one of the first Chinese officials to abandon wearing a Mao suit in favor of Western business suits. When asked which of Mao Zedong's theories were desirable for modern China, he replied "I think, none". [18]

Hu was not prepared to abandon Marxism completely, but frankly expressed the opinion that Communism could not solve "all of mankind's problems". Hu encouraged intellectuals to raise controversial subjects in the media, including democracy, human rights, and the possibility of introducing legal limits to the Communist Party's influence within the Chinese government. Many party elders mistrusted Hu from the start and eventually grew to fear his influence. [17]

Hu made sincere efforts to repair Sino-Japanese relations, but was criticized for the scope of his efforts. In 1984, when Beijing recognized the twelfth anniversary of Japan's diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic, Hu invited 3,000 Japanese youth to Beijing, and arranged for them to tour Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, and Xi'an. Many senior officials considered Hu's efforts extravagant, since Japan had only invited 500 Chinese youths to Japan the previous year. Hu was criticized internally for the lavish gifts that he gave to visiting Japanese officials, and for allowing his daughter to privately accompany Japanese prime minister Nakasone's son when they visited Beijing. Hu defended his actions by citing the importance of strong Sino-Japanese relations, and his belief that the atrocities committed by Japan in China during World War II were the actions of military warlords, and not ordinary citizens. [19]

Hu alienated potential allies within the People's Liberation Army when he suggested for two consecutive years that the Chinese defense budget should be reduced, and senior military leaders began to criticize him. Military officials accused Hu of making poor choices when purchasing military hardware from Australia in 1985. When Hu visited Britain, military officials criticized him for drinking soup too loudly during a banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II. [20]

Zhao and Hu began a large-scale anti-corruption programme, and permitted the investigations of the children of high-ranking Party elders, who had grown up protected by their parents' influence. Hu's investigation of Party officials belonging to this "Crown Prince Party" made Hu unpopular with many powerful Party officials. [13] After Deng refused to support some of Hu's reforms, Hu made private comments critical of Deng Xiaoping for his indecisiveness and "old-fashioned" way of thinking, opinions which Deng eventually became aware of. [21]

Resignation

In December 1986, a group of students organized public protests across over a dozen cities in support of political and economic liberalization. The protests began in the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui, where they were led by the controversial astrophysicist, Fang Lizhi, who was then Vice Chancellor of the university. Fang talked openly about introducing political reforms which would end the influence of the Communist Party within the Chinese government. The protests were also led by two other "radical intellectuals", Wang Ruowang and Liu Binyan. [20]

Deng Xiaoping disliked all three leaders, and directed Hu to dismiss them from the Party in order to silence them, but Hu Yaobang refused. [21] In January 1987, after two weeks of student protests demanding greater Western-style freedoms, [5] a clique of Party elders and senior military officials forced Hu to resign on the grounds that he had been too lenient with student protesters and for moving too quickly towards free market-style economic reforms. [4]

After Hu's forced dismissal, Deng Xiaoping promoted Zhao Ziyang to replace the liberal Hu as Party general secretary, putting Zhao in a position to succeed Deng as "paramount leader". [13] Hu officially resigned as Party general secretary on January 16, but retained his seat in the Politburo Standing Committee. [5] When Hu "resigned", the Party forced him to issue a humiliating "self-criticism of his mistakes on major issues of political principles in violation of the party's principle of collective leadership." After 1987 Hu became more reclusive and less active in Chinese politics, studying revolutionary history and practicing his calligraphy in his spare time, and taking long walks for exercise. [6] Hu was generally viewed as having no real power after 1987, and he was relegated to largely ceremonial roles.[ citation needed ]

Hu's "resignation" harmed the credibility of the CCP while improving Hu's own. Among Chinese intellectuals Hu became an example of a man who refused to compromise his convictions in the face of political resistance, and who had paid the price as a result. The promotion of a conservative, Li Peng, to the position of premier after Hu's departure from executive-level positions made the government less enthusiastic to pursue reform, and upset plans of an orderly succession of power from Deng Xiaoping to any politician similar to Hu. [18]

Death, protests, and burial

Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang Hu Yaobang's Former Residence 041.jpg
Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang

Death and public reactions

In October 1987 Hu retained his membership in the CCP's Central Committee at the 13th Party Congress, and was subsequently elected a member of the new Politburo by the first plenary session of the Central Committee. On April 8 1989, Hu suffered a heart attack while attending a Politburo meeting in Zhongnanhai to discuss education reform. Hu was rushed to the hospital, accompanied by his wife. Hu died several days later, on 15 April. He was 73 years old. Hu's last words were that he should be buried simply, without extravagance, in his hometown. [22]

In his official obituary, Hu was described as "a long-tested and staunch communist warrior, a great proletarian revolutionist and statesman, an outstanding political leader for the Chinese army". [10] Western reporters observed that Hu's obituary was intentionally "glowing" in order to divert suspicion that the Party had mistreated him. [18] At the memorial service, Hu's widow Li Zhao blamed Hu's death on how harshly the party treated him, telling Deng Xiaoping "It's all because of you people." [23]

Although he had become a semi-retired official by the time of his death, and had been removed from positions of real power for his "mistakes", public pressure forced the Chinese government to give him a state funeral, attended by Party leaders. The eulogy at Hu's funeral praised his work in restoring political normality and promoting economic development after the Cultural Revolution. [24] Public mourners at Hu's funeral lined up ten miles long, a reaction which surprised China's leaders. Shortly after Hu's funeral, students in Beijing began petitioning the government to officially reverse the verdict that had led to Hu's "resignation", and to provide a more elaborate public funeral. The government then held a public memorial service for Hu in the Great Hall of the People. [22]

On April 22 1989, 50,000 students marched to Tiananmen Square to participate in Hu's memorial service, and to deliver a letter of petition to Premier Li Peng. [25] Many people were dissatisfied with the party's slow response and relatively subdued funerary arrangements. Public mourning began on the streets of Beijing and elsewhere. In Beijing this was centred on the Monument to the People's Heroes in Tiananmen Square. The mourning became a public conduit for anger against perceived nepotism in the government, the unfair dismissal and early death of Hu, and the behind-the-scenes role of the "old men", officially retired leaders who nevertheless maintained quasi-legal power, such as Deng Xiaoping. [24] The protests eventually escalated into the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Hu's promotion of the ideas on freedom of speech and freedom of press greatly influenced the students participating in the protests.

Tomb

Hu Yaobang's Former Residence. Hu Yaobang's Former Residence 037.jpg
Hu Yaobang's Former Residence.

After Hu's funeral, his body was cremated, and his remains were buried in Babaoshan, a cemetery in Beijing reserved for senior Party officials. Hu's wife, Li Zhao, was unhappy with the location of Hu's grave, and successfully petitioned the government to move Hu's remains to a more suitable site. Eventually Hu's remains were moved to a large mausoleum in Gongqing, Jiangxi, a city that Hu had helped found in 1955. Hu's mausoleum is arguably the most impressive tomb of any senior CCP leader. [26]

Li Zhao collected money for the construction of Hu's tomb from both private and public sources; and, with the help of her son, they selected an appropriate location in Gongqing. The tomb was constructed in the shape of a pyramid, on the top of a hill. On December 5 1990 Hu's ashes were flown to Gongqing, carried by his son, Hu Deping. The ceremony was attended by Wen Jiabao, numerous Jiangxi public officials, and 2,000 members of the Communist Youth League. Gongqing's factories and schools were closed for the day, allowing 7,000 Gongqing citizens to attend. At the ceremony, Li Zhao made a speech expressing her gratitude towards the government and for the people who attended. [27]

Official censorship and rehabilitation

Media censorship

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 eventually ended in the violent suppression of protesters on 4 June 1989, in which hundreds of civilians were killed. Because the protests had been sparked by the death of Hu Yaobang, the government determined that any public discussion of Hu and his legacy could destabilize China by renewing debate about the political reforms that Hu supported. Because of the public association with Hu and the "Tiananmen Massacre", Hu Yaobang's name became taboo on the mainland, and the Chinese government censored any mention of him in the media. [28] In one example of government censorship, printed media which commemorated the anniversary of his death in 1994 were withdrawn from publication.

Official rehabilitation

Hu Jintao announced plans to rehabilitate Hu Yaobang in August 2005, with events organised for November 20, the 90th anniversary of Hu's birth. Ceremonies were planned in Beijing, where Hu died, in Hunan, where Hu was born, and in Jiangxi, where Hu was buried. Western observers noted that the move to rehabilitate Hu Yaobang may have been part of a broader political effort by Hu Jintao to gain support from reform-minded colleagues, who had always respected Hu Yaobang. [28]

Some political analysts have argued that Hu Jintao's administration wished to be associated with Hu Yaobang. Both Hu's (no relations) rose to power through the Communist Youth League, and have been described as part of the same "Youth League Clique". Hu Yaobang's support was partially responsible for Hu Jintao's rapid promotion during the 1980s. [29]

Some observers noted that Hu Yaobang's rehabilitation made it more likely that the Party would be willing to re-evaluate the 1989 Tiananmen protests, but other observers expressed skepticism. Memorials with the purpose of recognizing the date of someone's birth or death are often signs of political trends within China, with some pointing to the prospect of further reform. Skeptics noted that Hu Jintao made a statement praising the governments of Cuba and North Korea (in spite of their economic "flaws") shortly after announcing Hu Yaobang's public commemoration, implying that it would be unlikely that the party would pursue a dramatic programme of political reform in the near future. [28]

On November 18 2005, The Communist Party officially celebrated the 90th anniversary of Hu Yaobang's birth with activities at the People's Hall (the date was changed to two days before it was officially scheduled). Around 350 people attended, including premier Wen Jiabao, vice president Zeng Qinghong, and numerous other Party officials, celebrities, and members of Hu Yaobang's family. [30] It was rumored that Hu Jintao wanted to attend, but was prevented from doing so by other senior members of the Party who still disliked Hu Yaobang. Wen was not given the opportunity to talk, and Zeng Qinghong was the most senior Party member to speak. [12] In his speech, Zeng's said that members should learn from Hu's merits, especially his frankness and genuine concern for the Chinese people. Zeng stated that Hu had "contributed all his life and built immortal merits for the liberation and happiness of the Chinese people... His historic achievements and moral character will always be remembered by the Party and our people." [30]

In the media after 2005

The official three-volume biography and a collection of Hu's writings were slated for release in China. The project was originally begun by a group of Hu's former aides, led by Zhang Liqun (who died in 2003). After the government learned of the project, it insisted on taking control of it. One of the main issues that government censors identified was the concern that details of Hu's relationship with Deng Xiaoping (especially details of Hu's removal from power after resisting orders to crack down on student demonstrators in 1987) would reflect poorly on Deng's legacy. The authors of Hu's biography subsequently rejected offers from the government to released a censored version. [28] Only one volume (dealing with events up to the end of the Cultural Revolution) of the biography written by Hu's former aides was eventually published, with the other two volumes held by the government and remaining unpublished.

Although magazines publishing commemorative articles were initially stopped from being released, the ban was lifted in 2005 and these magazines were publicly issued. Yanhuang Chunqiu , a reform-minded magazine, was allowed to publish a series of articles in 2005 commemorating the birthday of Hu Yaobang, but the government acted to limit the availability of the magazine. The issue commemorating Hu sold 50,000 copies, but the remaining 5,000 copies were destroyed by propaganda officials. [31] This was the first time since his death that Hu's name appeared publicly.

On April 2010 (the 21st anniversary of Hu's death), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao wrote an article in the People's Daily titled "Recalling Hu Yaobang when I return to Xingyi". [32] Presented as an essay, it recollected an investigation of ordinary people's lives by Hu Yaobang and Wen Jiabao in Xingyi County, Guizhou, in 1986. Wen, who worked with Hu from 1985 to 1987, praised Hu's "superior working style of being totally devoted to the suffering of the masses", and his "lofty morality and openness [of character]". Wen's essay elicited an enthusiastic reaction in Chinese-language websites, generating over 20,000 responses on Sina.com on the day the article appeared. [33] The article was interpreted by observers familiar with the Chinese political system as a confirmation by Wen that he was a protege of Hu, rather than Zhao Ziyang. [12]

On 20 November 2015, the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Hu Yaobang, Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping held a high profile commemoration ceremony for Hu Yaobang in Beijing. In contrast to the event held by the previous leadership ten years earlier, the 100th anniversary event was deliberately high-profile and attended by all members of the Politburo Standing Committee. Xi lavished Hu with praise for his accomplishments, and said that Hu "dedicated his life to the party and to the people. His led a glorious life, a life of struggle... his contributions will shine in history." [34] Hu appeared as a character in the 2015 historical drama Deng Xiaoping at History's Crossroads .

See also

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References

Citations

  1. Gladney 25
  2. 回忆父亲胡耀邦(十) (in Chinese).
  3. Lee 308
  4. 1 2 Kristof 2
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Encyclopædia Britannica.
  6. 1 2 3 Kristof 3
  7. Lee 310
  8. Lee 310–311
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 Lee 311
  10. 1 2 3 4 People's Daily
  11. Forney
  12. 1 2 3 Wu
  13. 1 2 3 Becker
  14. The Australian
  15. 1 2 Bass 52
  16. Bass 51—52
  17. 1 2 Lee 312
  18. 1 2 3 Kristof 1
  19. Lee 311–312
  20. 1 2 Lee 313–314
  21. 1 2 Lee 314
  22. 1 2 Lee 315
  23. Vogel 586
  24. 1 2 Brook 26–27
  25. Tilly 74
  26. Lee 310, 314
  27. Lee 309
  28. 1 2 3 4 Pan
  29. Nathan & Gilley 80
  30. 1 2 Xinhua
  31. Fan 1
  32. Wen
  33. Lam
  34. 习近平纪念胡耀邦诞辰100周年讲话(全文). Duowei (in Chinese). 20 November 2015.

Sources

Further reading

Party political offices
Preceded by
Zhang Wentian
Abolished since 1943
General Secretary of the Communist Party of China
1982–1987
Succeeded by
Zhao Ziyang
Preceded by
Hua Guofeng
Chairman of the Communist Party of China
1981–1982
Post abolished
Preceded by
Deng Xiaoping
Abolished since 1966
Secretary General of the Central Secretariat
1980–1982
Preceded by
Zhang Pinghua
Head of the CPC Central Propaganda Department
1978–1980
Succeeded by
Wang Renzhong
Preceded by
Guo Yufeng
Head of the CPC Central Organization Department
1977–1978
Succeeded by
Song Renqiong
Preceded by
Zhang Desheng
Secretary of the CPC Shaanxi Committee
1964–1965
Succeeded by
Huo Shilian
New title First Secretary of the Communist Youth League of China
Suspended from 1966 to 1971

1957–1978
Succeeded by
Han Ying
Order of precedence
First Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China
(Chairman of the Communist Party; 1st ranked)

1981–1982
Succeeded by
Ye Jianying
as Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee
(2nd ranked)
Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China
(General Secretary of the Communist Party; 1st ranked)

1982–1985
Succeeded by
Ye Jianying
as Vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission
(2nd ranked)
Orders of precedence in the People's Republic of China
(General Secretary of the Communist Party; 1st ranked)

1985–1987
Succeeded by
Deng Xiaoping
as Chairman of the Central Military Commission
(2nd ranked)