Jiang Qing (Chinese: ½Çà; pinyin: Ji¨¡ng Q¨©ng; Wade-Giles: Chiang Ch'ing; March 14, 1914 - May 14, 1991) was the pseudonym that was used by Chinese leader Mao Zedong's last wife and major Chinese Communist Party power figure. She went by the stage name Lan Ping (Chinese: À¶Æ») during her acting career, and was known by various other names during her life. She married Mao in Yan'an in November 1938, and is sometimes referred to as Madame Mao in Western literature, serving as Communist China's first first lady. Jiang Qing was most well-known for playing a major role in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and for forming the radical political alliance known as the "Gang of Four". She was named the "Great Flag-carrier of the Proletarian Culture" (Chinese: ÎÞ²ú½×¼¶ÎÄÒÕÎ°´óÆìÊÖ).
Jiang Qing served as Mao's personal secretary in the 1940s and was head of the Film Section of the CCP Propaganda Department in the 1950s. In the early 1960s, she made a bid for power during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which resulted in widespread chaos within the communist party. In 1966 she was appointed deputy director of the Central Cultural Revolution Group and claimed real power over Chinese politics for the first time. She became one of the masterminds of the Cultural Revolution, and along with three others, held absolute control over all of the national institutions.
Around the time of Chairman Mao's death, Jiang Qing and her proteges maintained control of many of China's power institutions, including a heavy hand in the media and propaganda. However, Jiang Qing's political success was limited. When Mao died in 1976, Jiang lost the support and justification for her political activities. She was arrested in October 1976 by Hua Guofeng and his allies, and was subsequently accused of being counter-revolutionary. Since then, Jiang Qing and Lin Biao have been branded by official historical documents in China as the "Lin Biao and Jiang Qing Counter-revolutionary Cliques" (Chinese: ÁÖ±ë½Çà·´¸ïÃü¼¯ÍÅ), to which most of the blame for the damage and devastation caused by the Cultural Revolution was assigned. When Jiang Qing was arrested and sentenced to death, many, if not most, Chinese citizens rejoiced. Her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 1983, however, and in May 1991 she was released for medical treatment. Before returning to prison, she committed suicide.
1893–1976 (m. 1938)