Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
She was born as Lǐ Shúméng (李淑蒙) in Zhucheng (诸城), Shandong Province. She is also known as Lǐ Jìn (李进) and Lǐ Yúnhè (李云鹤), and was an actress under the stage name of Lán Píng (蓝苹). Jiang was educated at Qingdao University, joined the Communist Party of China in 1933 and worked as an actress in Shanghai from 1933 to 1937. In 1939 Kang Sheng introduced her to Mao Zedong in Yan'an, and she and Mao were later married. After 1949 she worked in the Ministry of Culture.
She became a member of the Politburo in 1969. She was appointed as the deputy director of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, and formed the famous Gang of Four with Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen. From that point on, she was the most powerful figure in China during Mao's last years.
Jiang incited radical youths organized as Red Guards against other senior political leaders and government officials, including Liu Shaoqi, the President of the PRC at that time, and Deng Xiaoping, deputy Premier. Internally divided into factions both to the "left" and "right" of Jiang Qing and Mao, not all Red Guards were friendly to Jiang Qing.
Jiang also directed revolutionary operas as part of an effort to transform China's culture. Critics say her influence on art was too restrictive.
Jiang first collaborated with then 2nd-in-charge Lin Biao, but after Lin's death in a plane crash in 1971, she turned against him publicly in the Anti-Lin, Anti-Confucius Campaign. She was arrested after the Cultural Revolution ended (1976).
At her trial in 1981 she was the only member of the Gang of Four who bothered to argue on her behalf. She was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in 1981, and the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. She was released for medical reasons in 1991. Ten days after her release, she killed herself in her apartment. The circumstances of her death are under suspicion because of her opposition to the regime. Other initial reports located her place of death as prison and some suggested that she did not commit suicide.
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