Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear Readers,

The one-time successor to the great helmsman, Hua Guofeng, has passed away. The timing is curious, and I wonder if this was Hua's last protest against the market economy that Deng had created. He last protested by not standing up during a standing ovation at the 17th Party Congress (I think he also did this at the 16th and 15th??) After all, he vowed to Chairman Mao that he would adhere to the policy of utopian communism pursued by Mao. There continues to be a debate on whether Hua was Mao's illegitimate son (well, with so many wives, what does legitimacy have to do with it?). My personal take is that Hua was indeed Mao's son, since little else could have explained his meteoric rise during the Cultural Revolution. He was not particularly "revolutionary" as Wang Hongwen was, but yet was always sheltered and promoted by Mao.

BBC news--
Mao's successor Hua Guofeng dies
Hua Guofeng
Hua Guofeng succeeded Mao Zedong in 1976

Hua Guofeng, who succeeded Mao Zedong as chairman of China's Communist Party, has died, state media is reporting.

Xinhua news agency said 87-year-old Hua died in the Chinese capital after suffering from an unspecified illness.

Hua took over as chairman after Mao's death in 1976 and is credited with helping to end the Cultural Revolution.

But Hua was himself quickly pushed aside by radical reformer Deng Xiaoping. His period as chairman ended formally in 1981.

However, unlike former leaders who were purged and exiled to remote villages, Hua remained in Beijing and on the party's Central Committee.

'Heart at ease'

"Because of an illness that could not be cured, Hua died on 20 August at 1250 in Beijing, at the age of 87," the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report.

It was under Hua's chairmanship that members of the so-called Gang of Four - including Mao's widow Jiang Qing - were arrested.

They had been blamed for the excesses that accompanied the decade-long Cultural Revolution.

Mao was said to have told him on his deathbed: "With you in charge my heart is at ease."
But Deng Xiaoping was already manoeuvring to replace him, and Hua was effectively stripped of his powers in 1978.

No wonder Hua looks like Mao
In many respects Hu Jintao in 2002 was like Hua Guofeng - Chosen by the paramopunt leader (Deng in Hu's case) but having very little or no power base of one's own. In Hua's case, he had to make way for Deng, whose ascent was inevitable. Otherwise he might also have remained at the helm of affairs for a considerable time period.
Mao's son? He had plenty of 'em, of course, Hua Guofeng, son and heir?

Victor, might you have some inside info on this?
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