Jiang Qing Madame Mao was a lady who made history in China. She rose from being an actress to become the wife of the most powerful man in China. Mao Zedong was the chairman of the people’s republic of China. Li Shumeng, later to become Madame Mao was born in the year 1914. An unhappy childhood and irresponsible youth saw her through two failed marriages in her early twenties. She studied drama and literature and became an actress under the name Lan Ping.
Jiang Qing met Mao Zedong at the party school in Yan An. This meting changed her life forever and she was married to him in 1939. She was his third wife. Their marriage was highly opposed because of her colorful past. Stalin intervened and conditions were laid to approve the marriage. She was asked to renounce political activities for the next thirty years. She soon became the perfect hostess to foreign dignitaries and changed the official atmosphere and lifestyle at Yan An.
Madame Mao was responsible for bringing about the Cultural Revolution. She reevaluated the ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’, which is China’s favored novel. Mao utilized her cultural influence to attack his rivals and intellectuals. She was appointed as deputy director of the Cultural Revolution in 1966 and had complete power and control over all institutions in the republic. Jiang Qing and those who supported her were known as the Gang of Four. The four included Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Jiang Qing.
The Cultural Revolution was launched formally by Mao in August 1966. Schools were shut down. The youth were encouraged to join the red guards. These guards were given power to attack the traditional structures and values. Intellectuals were attacked brutally. Many people lost their lives. Even party officials were criticized. The revolution soon assumed demoniac form which could not be easily controlled.
The red guards split into various groups. These groups tried to outshine each other and brought about total anarchy and terror in China. The chaos prompted Mao to ask the military to step in and take control. The military, however, became too powerful and their leader Lin Biao was opposed by Jiang Qing and her supporters. He was killed in an attempt to flee to the Soviet Union.
Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping tried to restore stability in China. Jiang Qing and her gang desperately tried to oppose them but Mao finally favored Zhou and Deng. The radicals convinced him that Deng’s policies would disclaim Mao himself. Zhou died in 1976 and Deng was purged in April 1976. Mao died in September 1976. The Gang of Four was usurped with the help of political, police and military forces.
The Cultural Revolution ended officially in August 1977. Jiang Qing and her supporters dismantled the very foundation of Chinese society. The youth were denied a good education and had to take to the streets after the revolution. The party and the government were corrupt to the core. To make matters worse, goods were scarce. The damage to the Chinese society was great. The common man was thus affected because of the political thirst of a few individuals.
Jiang Qing was arrested and sentenced to death. The decision was later revised because the authorities thought it wise not to make her a martyr. She was diagnosed with cancer and released for treatment. She committed suicide in the hospital bathroom on May 14, 1991. Jiang Qing thus ended her life. She was one of the most influential women of the world who was responsible for untold misery and killings of her people. She never once admitted her guilt.