Lin Biao

Lin Biao

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Lin Biao was a major Chinese Communist
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 military leader who was pivotal in the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, especially in Northeastern China. Lin was the general who commanded the decisive Liaoshen Campaign
Liaoshen Campaign
Liaoshen Campaign , literally the abbreviation of Liaoning-Shenyang Campaign, was part of the three major campaigns launched by the People's Liberation Army during the late stage of the Chinese Civil War. This engagement is known in the Nationalist government as the Battle of Liaoshi...

 and Pingjin Campaign
Pingjin Campaign
Pingjin Campaign , known as the Battle of Pingjin to the Nationalist Government, was part of the three major campaigns launched by the People's Liberation Army during the late stage of the Chinese Civil War. It began on November 29, 1948, and ended on January 31, 1949, lasted a total of 64 days...

, co-led the Northeast battlefield army of the People's Liberation Army
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 into Beijing, and crossed the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

 in 1949. He ranked third among the Ten Marshals
Yuan Shuai
Yuan Shuai was a Chinese military rank that corresponds to a marshal in other nations. It is given to distinguished generals during China's dynastic and republican periods. A higher level rank of Da Yuan Shuai , which corresponds to a Generalissimo, also existed.-People's Republic of China:The...

. Zhu De
Zhu De
Zhu De was a Chinese militarist, politician, revolutionary, and one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, in 1955 Zhu became one of the Ten Marshals of the People's Liberation Army, of which he is regarded as the founder.-Early...

 and Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader of the Communist Party of China, and China's Defence Minister from 1954 to 1959. Peng was an important commander during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese civil war and was also the commander-in-chief of People's Volunteer Army in the Korean War...

 were considered senior to Lin, and Lin ranked ahead of He Long
He Long
He Long was a Chinese military leader. He rose to the rank of Marshal and Vice Premier after the founding of the People's Republic of China.-Early life:He Long was a member of the Tujia ethnic group...

 and Liu Bocheng
Liu Bocheng
Liu Bocheng was a Chinese Communist military commander and Marshal of the People's Liberation Army.Liu is known as one of the "Three and A Half" Strategists of China in modern history...

.

Lin abstained from taking an active role in politics after the civil war, but became instrumental in creating the foundations for Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's cult of personality in the early 1960s. Lin was rewarded for his service to Mao by being named Mao's designated successor during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, from 1966 until his death. Lin died in September 1971 when his plane crashed in Mongolia, following what appeared to be a failed coup
Project 571 Outline
Project 571 was the numeric codename given to an alleged plot or coup d'etat against Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1971 by the supporters of Lin Biao, then Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party of China. The operations were supposedly led by Lin's son, Lin Liguo, a high-ranking officer in the...

 to oust Mao. Because little inside information is available to the public on this "Lin Biao incident", the exact events preceding Lin's death have been a source of speculation among China scholars.

Following Lin's death, he was officially condemned as a traitor by the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

. He and Jiang Qing
Jiang Qing
Jiang Qing was the pseudonym that was used by Chinese leader Mao Zedong's last wife and major Communist Party of China power figure. She went by the stage name Lan Ping during her acting career, and was known by various other names during her life...

 are still considered to be the two "major Counter-revolutionary cliques" blamed for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.

Education



Lin Biao was the son of a small landlord in the village of Huanggang
Huanggang
Huanggang is a city in Hubei, China.Huanggang may also refer to:* Huanggang, Shenzhen, area in Shenzhen, China* Huanggang, Funan County, town in Anhui, China...

, Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

. His name at birth was "Lin Yurong". Lin left home in 1919 and went to Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, where he attended secondary school. As a child, Lin was much more interested in participating in student movements than in pursuing his formal education.

Lin joined the Communist Youth League
Communist Youth League
The Communist Youth League of China also known as the China Youth League is a youth movement of the People's Republic of China for youth between the ages of fourteen and twenty-eight, run by Communist Party of China. The league is organized on the party pattern. Its leader is its First Secretary...

 in 1925, and matriculated at the Whampoa Military Academy
Whampoa Military Academy
The Nationalist Party of China Army Officer Academy , commonly known as the Whampoa Military Academy , was a military academy in the Republic of China that produced many prestigious commanders who fought in many of China's conflicts in the 20th century, notably the Northern Expedition, the Second...

 when he was 18, during the First United Front between the Communists and the Kuomintang
Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

. As a young cadet, Lin admired the personality of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

, who was then the Principle of the Academy. At Whampoa, Lin also worked closely with Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

. Lin's relationship with Zhou was never especially close after their period at Whampoa, but they rarely opposed each other directly. Less than a year later, he was ordered to participate in the Northern Expedition, rising from deputy platoon leader to battalion commander in the National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army
The National Revolutionary Army , pre-1928 sometimes shortened to 革命軍 or Revolutionary Army and between 1928-1947 as 國軍 or National Army was the Military Arm of the Kuomintang from 1925 until 1947, as well as the national army of the Republic of China during the KMT's period of party rule...

 within a few months. Lin graduated from Whampoa in 1925 and by 1927 was a colonel.

When he was 20 Lin married a girl from the countryside with the family name "Ong". This marriage was arranged by Lin's parents, and the couple never became close. When Lin left the Kuomintang to become a communist revolutionary, Ong did not accompany Lin, and their marriage effectively ended.

Chinese civil war


After the Kuomintang-Communist split
Shanghai massacre of 1927
The April 12 Incident of 1927 refers to the violent suppression of Chinese Communist Party organizations in Shanghai by the military forces of Chiang Kai-shek and conservative factions in the Kuomintang...

, Lin participated in the Nanchang Uprising
Nanchang Uprising
The Nanchang Uprising was the first major Kuomintang-Communist engagement of the Chinese Civil War, in order to counter the anti-communist purges by the Nationalist Party of China....

 on August 1 1927.. Following the failure of the revolt, Lin escaped to the remote Communist base areas, and joined Mao Zedong and Zhu De in the Jiangxi–Fujian Soviet in 1928. After joining forces with Mao, Lin became one of Mao's closest supporters.

Lin became one of the most senior military field commanders within the Jiangxi Soviet. He commanded the First Army Group, and achieved a degree of power comparable to that of Peng Dehuai, who commanded the Third Army Group. According to Otto Braun
Otto Braun (Li De)
Otto Braun was a German Communist with a long and varied career.His most significant role was as a Comintern agent sent to China in 1934, to advise the Communist Party of China on military strategy during the Chinese Civil War...

, Lin was "politically... a blank sheet on which Mao could write as he pleased" during this period. After Mao was removed from power in 1932
Ningdu Conference
The Ningdu Conference was a meeting of the Communist Party of China held in the Banshan Ancestral Hall in the village of Xiaoyuan , Ningdu County, Jiangxi Province...

 by his rivals, the 28 Bolsheviks
28 Bolsheviks
The 28 Bolsheviks were a group of Chinese students who studied at the Moscow Sun Yat-sen University from the late 1920s until early 1935, also known as the "Returned Students". The university was founded in 1925 as a result of Kuomintang's founder Sun Yat-Sen's policy of alliance with the Soviet...

, Lin frequently attended strategic meetings in Mao's name and openly attacked the plans of Mao's enemies.

Within the Jiangxi Soviet, Lin's First Army Group was the best-equipped, and arguably most successful, force within the Red Army. Lin's First Army became known for its mobility, and for its ability to execute successful flanking maneuvers. Between 1930-1933 Lin's forces captured twice the amount of prisoners of war and military equipment as the Third and Fifth Army Groups combined. The successes of Lin's forces are due partially to the division of labour within the Red Army: Lin's forces were more offensive and unorthodox than other groups, allowing Lin to capitalize on other Red Army commanders' successes.

During the Communists' defense against Chiang's 1933-34 Fifth Encirclement Capmaign
Fifth Encirclement Campaign against Jiangxi Soviet
The Fifth Encirclement Campaign against Jiangxi Soviet was a series of battles fought during the Chinese Civil War from September 25, 1933 to October 1934 between Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang and the Chinese communists...

, Lin advocated a strategy of protracted guerilla warfare, and opposed the positional warfare advocated by Braun and his supporters. Lin believed that the best way to destroy enemy soldiers was not to pursue them or defend strategic points, but to weaken the enemy through feints, ambushes, encirclements, and surprise attacks. Lin's views generally conformed with the tactics advocated by Mao.

After Chiang's forces successfully occupied several strategic locations within the Jiangxi Soviet, in 1934, Lin was one of the first Red Army commanders to publicly advocate the abandonment of the Jiangxi Soviet, but he was opposed by most Red Army commanders, especially Braun and Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai
Peng Dehuai was a prominent military leader of the Communist Party of China, and China's Defence Minister from 1954 to 1959. Peng was an important commander during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese civil war and was also the commander-in-chief of People's Volunteer Army in the Korean War...

. After the Communists finally resolved to abandon their base, later in 1934, Lin continued his position as one of the most successful commanders in the Red Army during the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive 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...

. Under the direction of Mao and Zhou, the Red Army finally arrived at the remote Communist base of Yan'an
Yan'an
Yan'an , is a prefecture-level city in the Shanbei region of Shaanxi province in China, administering several counties, including Zhidan County , which served as the Chinese communist capital before the city of Yan'an proper took that role....

, Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

, in December 1936.

Lin and Peng Dehuai were generally considered the Red Army's best battlefield commanders, and were not rivals during the Long March
Long March
The Long March was a massive 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...

. Both of them had supported Mao's rise to de facto leadership at Zunyi
Zunyi Conference
The Zunyi Conference was a meeting of the Communist Party of China in January of 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...

 in January 1935. Lin may have become privately dissatisfied with Mao's strategy of constant evasion by the end of the Long March, but continued to support Mao publicly.

Lin Biao did not present the bluff, lusty face of Peng Dehuai. He was ten years younger, rather slight, oval-faced, dark, handsome. Peng talked with his men. Lin kept his distance. To many he seemed shy and reserved. There are no stories reflecting warmth and affection for his men. His fellow Red Army commanders respected Lin, but when he spoke it was all business ....

The contrast between Mao's top field commanders could hardly have been more sharp, but on the Long March they worked well together, Lin specializing in feints, masked strategy, surprises, ambushes, flank attacks, pounces from the rear, and stratagems. Peng met the enemy head-on in frontal assaults and fought with such fury that again and again he wiped them out. Peng did not believe a battle well fought unless he managed to replenish—and more than replenish—any losses by seizure of enemy guns and converting prisoners of war to new and loyal recruits to the Red Army.


The American journalist Edgar Snow
Edgar Snow
Edgar P. Snow was an American journalist known for his books and articles on Communism in China and the Chinese Communist revolution...

 met Lin Biao in the Communist base of Shaanxi
Shaanxi
' is a province in the central part of Mainland China, and it includes portions of the Loess Plateau on the middle reaches of the Yellow River in addition to the Qinling Mountains across the southern part of this province...

 in 1936, and wrote about Lin in his book, Red Star Over China
Red Star Over China
Red Star Over China, a book by Edgar Snow, is an account of the Communist Party of China written when they were a guerrilla army still obscure to Westerners. Along with Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, it was the most influential book on Western understanding and sympathy for China in the 1930s...

. Snow's account focused more on the role of Peng than Lin, evidently having had long conversations with, and devoting two whole chapters to, Peng (more than any individual apart from Mao). But he says of Lin:

With Mao Zedong, Lin Biao shared the distinction of being one of the few Red commanders never wounded. Engaged on the front in more than a hundred battles, in field command for more than 10 years, exposed to every hardship that his men have known, with a reward of $100,000 on his head, he miraculously remained unhurt and in good health.

In 1932, Lin Biao was given command of the 1st Red Army Corps, which then numbered about 20,000 rifles. It became the most dreaded section of the Red Army. Chiefly due to Lin's extraordinary talent as a tactician, it destroyed, defeated or outmanoeuvered every Government force sent against it and was never broken in battle ....

Like many able Red commanders, Lin has never been outside China, speaks and reads no language but Chinese. Before the age of 30, however, he has already won recognition beyond Red circles. His articles in the Chinese Reds' military magazines ... have been republished, studied and criticised in Nanking military journals, and also in Japan and Soviet Russia.
(Within a year of Snow's reporting this, Lin was seriously wounded).

Lin and Mao generally had a close personal relationship, but some accounts claim that Lin sometimes made disparaging comments about Mao in private, and that Lin's support of Mao was largely for the pursuit of power. After arriving in Yan'an, Lin became the principle of the newly-founded "Anti-Japanese University". In 1937 Lin married one of the students there, a girl named Liu Ximin, who had earned the nickname "University Flower".

Second Sino–Japanese War (1937–1945)


In August 1937, Lin was named commander-in-chief of the 115th Division of the Communist 8th Route Army and ordered to aid Yan Xishan
Yan Xishan
Yan Xishan, was a Chinese warlord who served in the government of the Republic of China. Yan effectively controlled the province of Shanxi from the 1911 Xinhai Revolution to the 1949 Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War...

's forces in repelling the Japanese invasion of Shanxi
Shanxi
' is a province in Northern China. Its one-character abbreviation is "晋" , after the state of Jin that existed here during the Spring and Autumn Period....

. In this capacity, Lin orchestrated the ambush at Pingxingguan
Battle of Pingxingguan
The Battle of Pingxingguan , also commonly called the "Great Victory of Pingxingguan" in Mainland China, was an engagement fought between the 8th Route Army of the Communist Party of China and the Imperial Japanese Army on September 25, 1937....

 in September 1937, which was one of the few battlefield successes for the Chinese in the early period of the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

.

In 1938, while he was still leading Chinese forces in Shanxi, Japanese soldiers who had joined the Communists and were serving under Lin's command presented Lin with a Japanese
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 uniform and katana
Katana
A Japanese sword, or , is one of the traditional bladed weapons of Japan. There are several types of Japanese swords, according to size, field of application and method of manufacture.-Description:...

, which they had captured in battle. Lin then put the uniform and katana on, jumped onto a horse, and rode away from the army. While riding, Lin was spotted alone by a sharpshooter in Yan's army. The soldier was surprised to see a Japanese officer riding a horse in the desolate hills alone. He took aim at Lin and severely injured him. The bullet grazed Lin's head, penetrating deep enough to leave a permanent impression on his skull. After being shot in the head, Lin fell from his horse and injured his back.

Recovering from his wounds and ill with tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, Lin left for Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 at the end of 1937, where he served as the representative of the Communist Party of China to the Executive Committee of the Communist International
Executive Committee of the Communist International
The Executive Committee of the Communist International, commonly known by its acronym, ECCI, was the governing authority of the Comintern between the World Congresses of that body...

. He remained in Moscow until February 1942, working on Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

 affairs and writing for its publication. Lin was accompanied by his wife, Liu Ximin, but their relationship deteriorated in Moscow, and Lin eventually returned to Yan'an without her.

While in Moscow, Lin became infatuated with Zhou Enlai's adopted daughter, Sun Weishi
Sun Weishi
Sun Weishi, was the first female director of modern spoken drama in Chinese history. Sun's father was killed by the Kuomintang in 1927, and Sun was eventually adopted by Zhou Enlai, who later became the first Premier of the People's Republic of China...

, who was studying in Moscow from 1938-1946. Before returning to China, in 1942, Lin proposed to Sun and promised to divorce his wife, from whom Lin had become estranged. Sun was not able to accept Lin's proposal, but promised to consider marrying Lin after completing her studies. Lin divorced Liu Ximin after returning to China, and married another woman, Ye Qun
Ye Qun
Ye Qun was the wife of Lin Biao , the Vice-Chairman of China who controlled China's military power. She was mostly known for taking care of politics for her husband. She died with her husband and son in the plane crash over Mongolia on September 13, 1971...

, in 1943. The relationship between Sun and Ye was notably bad. After returning to Yan'an, Lin was involved in troop training and indoctrination assignments.

Defeating the Kuomintang



Lin was absent for most of the fighting during World War II, but was elected the sixth-ranking Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the National Party Congress....

 member in 1945 based on his earlier battlefield reputation. With the resumption of the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, Lin commanded the Red Army forces that conquered the Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

n provinces, and then swept into North China. Forces under Lin were responsible for winning two of the three major military victories responsible for the defeat of the Kuomintang. Lin suffered from ongoing periods of serious illness throughout the campaign.

Mao and other communist leaders intended to take over the whole Northeast China as their base, but with the withdrawal of the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 it was clear that they would have to fight for it. For the sake of bargaining with the Nationalists (Kuomintang) in the peace negotiation, Mao ordered Lin to assemble key armies to defend key cities, which was against the previous strategy of the CPC Red Army. Lin suffered a major defeat in Siping, and retreated before receiving clear orders from Mao. Lin suggested seriously that the Red Army should change its strategy. In order to achieve victory, Lin's forces abandoned the cities and employed Mao's strategy of guerrilla warfare and winning peasant support in the countryside.

Within a year of active command in Manchuria, Lin had entrapped the core of Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek
Chiang Kai-shek was a political and military leader of 20th century China. He is known as Jiǎng Jièshí or Jiǎng Zhōngzhèng in Mandarin....

's American-armed and American-trained armies, capturing or killing a total of thirty-six generals. Then came the 'Three Great Campaigns'. Lin directed the Liaoshen Campaign
Liaoshen Campaign
Liaoshen Campaign , literally the abbreviation of Liaoning-Shenyang Campaign, was part of the three major campaigns launched by the People's Liberation Army during the late stage of the Chinese Civil War. This engagement is known in the Nationalist government as the Battle of Liaoshi...

, eliminating 450,000 nationalist soldiers and securing the region for the Communists. Following the victory in Manchuria, Lin encircled Chiang's main forces in northern China during the Pingjin Campaign
Pingjin Campaign
Pingjin Campaign , known as the Battle of Pingjin to the Nationalist Government, was part of the three major campaigns launched by the People's Liberation Army during the late stage of the Chinese Civil War. It began on November 29, 1948, and ended on January 31, 1949, lasted a total of 64 days...

. Lin's forces took over Tianjin
Tianjin
' is a metropolis in northern China and one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China. It is governed as a direct-controlled municipality, one of four such designations, and is, thus, under direct administration of the central government...

, convincing General Fu Zuoyi
Fu Zuoyi
Fu Zuoyi was a Chinese military leader. He began his military career in the service of Yan Xishan, and he was widely praised for his defense of Suiyuan from the Japanese. During the final stages of the Chinese Civil War, Fu surrendered the large and strategic garrison around Beiping to Communist...

 and his army of 400,000 men to surrender Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 without a battle. The Pingjin Campaign saw Lin eliminate a total of approximately 520,000 enemy troops.

After taking Beijing, the Communists attempted to negotiate for the surrender of the remaining KMT forces. When these negotiations failed, Lin resumed his attacks on the KMT in the southeast. After taking Beijing, Lin's army numbered 1.5 million soldiers. By the end of 1949 the Red Army succeeded in occupying all KMT positions on mainland China. The last position occupied by Lin's forces was the island of Hainan
Hainan
Hainan is the smallest province of the People's Republic of China . Although the province comprises some two hundred islands scattered among three archipelagos off the southern coast, of its land mass is Hainan Island , from which the province takes its name...

.

After World War II, several separate Communist armies fought on different fronts. Lin Biao led one of the three main army groups of Liberation Army, and was regarded as one of the Communist's most brilliant generals after the founding of the People's Republic of China. Lin was the youngest of the "Ten Marshals" named in 1955, a title that recognized his Lin's substantial military contributions.

Illness


Lin Biao continued to suffer from poor health after 1949, and chose to avoid high-profile military and political positions. Lin's status led him to be appointed to a number of high-profile positions throughout most of the 1950s, but these were largely honorary and carried few responsibilities. Lin generally delegated or neglected many of the formal political responsibilities that he was assigned, usually citing his poor health as an excuse.

After Lin's injury in 1938, he suffered from ongoing physical and mental health problems. Lin's exact medical condition is not well understood, partially because his medical records have never been publicly released. Dr. Li Zhisui
Li Zhisui
Li Zhisui was Mao Zedong's personal physician and confidante. After immigrating to the United States, he wrote a biography of his experiences with Mao entitled The Private Life of Chairman Mao .Weeks after he announced on a TV interview that he was going to write another memoir, Li died of a...

, then one of Mao's personal physicians, believed that Lin suffered from neurasthenia
Neurasthenia
Neurasthenia is a psycho-pathological term first used by George Miller Beard in 1869 to denote a condition with symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, headache, neuralgia and depressed mood...

 and hypochondria
Hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...

. Lin became ill whenever he perspired, and suffered from phobias concerning water, wind, cold, light, and noise. He was said to become nervous at the sight of rivers and oceans in traditional Chinese paintings, and suffered from diarrhea, which could be triggered by the sound of running water. Li's account of Lin's condition is notably different from the official Chinese version.

Lin suffered from excessive headaches, and spent much of his free time consulting Chinese medical texts and preparing traditional Chinese medicines for himself. He suffered from insomnia, and often took sleeping pills. Lin ate simple meals, he did not smoke, and he did not drink alcohol. As Lin's condition progressed, his fear of water led to a general refusal to either bathe or eat fruit. Because of Lin's fear of wind and light, his office was gloomy and lacked any ventilation. Some accounts have suggested that Lin became a drug addict, either to opium or morphine.

As early as 1953, Soviet doctors diagnosed Lin as suffering from manic depression. Lin's wife, Ye Qun
Ye Qun
Ye Qun was the wife of Lin Biao , the Vice-Chairman of China who controlled China's military power. She was mostly known for taking care of politics for her husband. She died with her husband and son in the plane crash over Mongolia on September 13, 1971...

, rejected this diagnosis, but it was later confirmed by Chinese doctors. Lin's fragile health made him vulnerable, passive, and easily manipulated by other political figures, notably Ye Qun herself.

Lin, like most of the Politburo, initially held serious reservations about China's entry into the Korean War. Lin declined to lead forces in Korea, citing his ill health. In early October 1950, Peng Dehuai was named commander of the Chinese forces bound for Korea, and Lin went to the Soviet Union for medical treatment. Lin flew to the Soviet Union with Zhou Enlai and participated in negotiations with Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 concerning Soviet support for China's intervention, indicating that Mao retained his trust in Lin.

Lin's complaints got worse with time and age. In the years before his death, the fiancee of Lin's son reported that Lin became extremely distant and socially and politically detached, even to the extent that Lin never read books or newspapers. Lin's passivity made him difficult to connect with at any meaningful level: "usually he just sat there, blankly". In Lin's rare periods of activity, he mostly used his time to complain about, and seek treatment for, his large variety of medical issues.

Alliance with Mao


Due partially to his periods of ill health and physical rehabilitation in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, Lin was slow to rise to power. In 1955 Lin was named to the Politburo
Politburo of the Communist Party of China
The Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China or Political bureau of the CPC Central Committee , formerly as Central Bureau before 1927, is a group of 24 people who oversee the Communist Party of China...

. In 1958 Lin joined the Politburo Standing Committee
Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China is a committee consisting of the top leadership of the Communist Party of China, whose membership varies between 5 and 9 people. The inner workings of the PSC are not well known, although it is believed that decisions of the PSC are...

 and became one of China's Vice-Chairmen
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
The Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was the highest rank under the Party Chairman within the Communist Party of China from 1956 to 1982.All the vice-chairmen were members of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee....

. In 1959, after the Lushan Conference
Lushan Conference
The Lushan Conference , officially the 8th Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, began on July 2, 1959 and was an informal discussion about the Great Leap Forward...

, Peng Dehuai was removed from his position as Minister of Defense
Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of National Defense of the People's Republic of China is a ministry under the State Council. It is headed by the Minister of National Defense. The MND was set up according to a decision adopted by the 1st Session of the 1st National People's Congress in 1954...

. Privately, Lin agreed with Peng's perspective on, and opposition to, Mao's Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...

, and he was strongly opposed to Peng being purged. Lin's fear of being purged himself kept Lin from publicly opposing Mao's efforts to purge Peng, and Peng was successfully disgraced and put under indefinite house arrest.

Lin initially refused to replace Peng, but finally accepted the position at the insistence of Mao Zedong. As Defense Minister, Lin's command of the PLA was second only to Mao, but he deferred many of his responsibilities to subordinates. The most important figures who Lin deferred the day-to-day operations of China's armed forces to were Chief of Staff Luo Ruiqing
Luo Ruiqing
-Biography:Luo Ruiqing was born in Nanchong, Sichuan in 1906. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1928. He was the eldest son of a wealthy landlord named Luo Chunting , who had a total of six kids...

 and the Central Military Vice-Chairman
Chairman of the Central Military Commission
The Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China has overall responsibility for the Central Military Commission. According to Chapter 3, Section 4 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, "The Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of...

, He Long
He Long
He Long was a Chinese military leader. He rose to the rank of Marshal and Vice Premier after the founding of the People's Republic of China.-Early life:He Long was a member of the Tujia ethnic group...

.

As Defense Minister, Lin's policies differed from that of his predecessor. Lin attempted to reform China's armed forces based on political criteria: he abolished all signs and privileges of of rank, purged members considered sympathetic to the USSR, directed soldiers to work part-time as industrial and agricultural workers, and indoctrinated the armed forces in Mao Zedong Thought
Maoism
Maoism, also known as the Mao Zedong Thought , is claimed by Maoists as an anti-Revisionist form of Marxist communist theory, derived from the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong . Developed during the 1950s and 1960s, it was widely applied as the political and military guiding...

. Lin's system of indoctrination made it clear the the Party was clearly in command of China's armed forces, and Lin ensured that the army's political commissars enjoyed great power and status in order to see that his directives were followed. Lin implemented these reforms in order to please Mao, but privately was concerned that they would weaken the PLA (which they did). Mao strongly approved of these reforms, and conscientiously promoted Lin to a series of high positions.

Lin used his position as Minister of Defense to flatter Mao by promoting Mao's cult of personality. Lin devised and ran a number of national Maoist propaganda campaigns based on the PLA, the most successful of which was the "learn from Lei Feng
Lei Feng
Lei Feng was a soldier of the People's Liberation Army in the People's Republic of China. After his death, Lei was characterised as a selfless and modest person who was devoted to the Communist Party, Chairman Mao Zedong, and the people of China...

" campaign, which Lin began in 1963. Because he was the person most responsible for directing the "learn from Lei Feng" campaign, Lin may have directed the forging of Lei Feng's Diary, upon which the propaganda campaign was based.

Because of Lin's fragile health, Ye Qin controlled many aspects of Lin's public life during the 1960s, including who would see Lin and what others would know about him. Mao encouraged Ye to act on Lin's behalf, giving her an unusual amount of power and responsibility. In 1965 Mao asked Ye to publicly criticize Lin's chief of staff, Luo Ruiqing, on Lin's behalf, even though Ye did not yet hold any high political position. When Lin discovered that Ye had done so (after Luo was purged), he was angry at Ye, but powerless to alter Luo's disgrace.

In 1965, a 20,000-word article on revolution in developing countries, entitled Long Live the Victory of the People's War!, was published in Lin's name, making Lin one of China's leading interpreters of Mao's political theories. The article likened the "emerging forces" of the poor in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to the "rural areas of the world", while the affluent countries of the West were likened to the "cities of the world". Eventually the "cities" would be encircled by revolutions in the "rural areas", following theories prevalent in Mao Zedong Thought. Lin made no promise that China would fight other people's wars, and foreign revolutionaries were advised to depend mainly on "self-reliance".

Lin worked closely with Mao, promoting Mao's cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

. Lin compiled some of Chairman Mao's writings into a handbook, the Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong
Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung , is a book of selected statements from speeches and writings by Mao Zedong, the former leader of Chinese Communist Party, published from 1964 to about 1976 and widely distributed during the Cultural Revolution...

, which became known as the Little Red Book. Lin Biao's military reforms and the success of the 1962 Sino-Indian War
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

 impressed Mao. A propaganda campaign called "learn from the People's Liberation Army" followed. In 1966, this campaign widened into the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

.

The Cultural Revolution



Liu's support impressed Mao, who continued to promote Lin to higher political offices. After Mao's second-in-command, Liu Shaoqi
Liu Shaoqi
Liu Shaoqi was a Chinese revolutionary, statesman, and theorist. He was Chairman of the People's Republic of China, China's head of state, from 27 April 1959 to 31 October 1968, during which he implemented policies of economic reconstruction in China...

, was denounced as a "capitalist roader" in 1966, Lin Biao emerged as the most likely candidate to replace Liu as Mao's successor. Lin attempted to avoid this promotion, but accepted it on Mao's insistence.

Privately, Lin opposed the purging of Liu and Deng Xiaopeng, on the grounds that they were "good comrades", but was not able to publicly oppose Mao's condemnation of them. Lin privately admired Liu, and once told his daughter that Liu had "a better understanding of theory than Mao". Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 was also considered for the position of Vice-Chairman, but Zhou successfully withdrew from the nomination, leaving Lin the only candidate.

Lin also seriously attempted to withdraw from the nomination, but was not able to do so because Mao had made Lin's appointment a decision of the Central Committee, so rejecting the position would violate Party procedure and would risk ending Lin's political career. Lin was not present at the conference where it was decided to name him vice chairman. After Lin was named, he met with Mao and begged him personally not to name him to the position, but Mao criticized him, comparing Lin to the Ming emperor Shizong
Shizong
Shizong may refer to:* Emperor Shizong of Liao , Khitan emperor, reigned 947–951* Emperor Shizong of Later Zhou , Chinese emperor, reigned 954–959* Emperor Shizong of Jin China , Jurchen emperor, reigned 1161–1189...

, who devoted so much of his time to the search for longevity medicines that Shizong neglected his government responsibilities. In 1966 all other candidates for the position were removed, and Lin accepted the position as sole Vice-Chairman
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
The Vice Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was the highest rank under the Party Chairman within the Communist Party of China from 1956 to 1982.All the vice-chairmen were members of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee....

, replacing Liu Shaoqi as Mao's unofficial successor. After his appointment, Lin again attempted to submit a formal written request to Mao, asking Mao to rescind Lin's appointment to the position of vice-chairman, but Mao again rejected this request. When Lin received the rejection letter, he was so angry that he tore the letter up and threw it in the garbage.

Because there was no way to avoid becoming Mao's second-in-command, Lin attempted to protect himself from the chaos of the Cultural Revolution by giving absolute support to Mao and doing very little else. Lin avoided expressing any opinion, or making any decision on any matter, until Mao's own opinions and positions on that matter were clear, after which Lin would adhere as closely to Mao's direction as possible. Lin made sure that, whenever he and Mao were scheduled to appear in the same place, Lin would always arrive earlier than Mao, waiting to greet the Chairman. Lin attempted to make all observers believe that he was Mao's closest follower, always appearing beside Mao in all of Mao's public appearances with a copy of Mao's Little Red Book. When he was informed that the public's image of Lin was that he was "Mao's best student", Lin was pleased, and stated: "I don't have any talent. What I know, I learned from Mao."

Because Lin had no real interest in the position of Vice-Chairman, he did little other than whatever he believed would ingratiate himself to Mao. Privately, Lin had no interest in promoting the Cultural Revolution, and attended government meetings only when Mao demanded that he do so. Those colleagues closest to Lin noted that Lin avoided talking about the Cultural Revolution in any context other than public speeches, and when pressed would only make very brief and ambiguous statements. After 1966 Lin made no phone calls, received few visitors, secluded himself from his colleagues, and gained a reputation as being "reticient and mysterious". He did not take an active role in government, but allowed his secretaries to read short summaries of selected documents for half an hour in the morning and half and hour in the afternoon. This was generally insufficient to fulfill the responsibilities of vice-chairman, and he left most important work and family duties to his wife, Ye Qun.

Lin's passivity was part of a calculated plan to survive the Cultural Revolution alive and well. When Lin perceived that his longtime subordinate, Tao Zhu
Tao Zhu
Tao Zhu is a Former Member of the 8th Communist Party of China Politburo Standing Committee.-Biography:He was Secretary of the Guangdong Provincial Committee and Commander of the Guangzhou Military Region....

, was in danger of being purged in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Lin sent a letter to warn Tao, advising Tao to be "passive, passive, and passive again". Tao probably did not understand Lin's advice, and was successfully purged in 1967. In his relationship with Mao, Lin adopted a policy of "three 'nos': no responsibility; no suggestions; no crime".

After 1966, Lin's few personal political initiatives were efforts to moderate the radical nature of the Cultural Revolution. Privately, he expressed unhappiness with the Cultural Revolution, but was unable to avoid playing a high-profile role due to the expectations of Mao, China's unpredictable political environment, and the manipulations of his wife and son, Ye Qun and Li Liguo. After 1966 Lin, like Liu before him, attempted to build his own base of support so that he could better position himself for the inevitable, unpredictable political situation that would occur following the death of Mao. Lin's few proactive attempts to direct the Cultural Revolution were attempts to protect Red Guards and his political allies from political persecution, and to mediate the attempts of Jiang Qing and her followers
Gang of Four
The Gang of Four was the name given to a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes...

 to radicalize China's political climate. Lin and Ye were not friendly with Jiang Qing: Lin once referred to her as a "long-nosed pit viper".

Lin officially became China's second-in-charge on April 1 1969, following the 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
The 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was a pivotal Communist Party Congress in China during the height of the Cultural Revolution. It was held in Beijing, China, between April 1 and 24, 1969...

. At the Congress, Lin advocated the restoration of the position of President
President of the People's Republic of China
The President of the People's Republic of China is a ceremonial office and a part of State organs under the National People's Congress and it is the head of state of the People's Republic of China . The office was created by the 1982 Constitution...

, which had been dissolved after the removal of Liu Shaoqi. The alleged purpose of the restoration was to ensure an orderly transition of power in the event of Mao's death. On August 23, 1970, at the Lushan Conference
9th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The 9th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was in session from 1969 to 1973. It held two plenary sessions in the 4-year period.It elected the 9th Politburo of the Communist Party of China in 1969....

, Lin formerly advocated the for restoration of the position of President.

Mao opposed some of Lin's suggestions at the Lushan Conference, including that of restoring the presidency. Mao did not attack Lin directly, but showed his displeasure by attacking Lin's ally, Chen Boda
Chen Boda
Chen Boda was born in 1904 in Hui'an and died on 20 September 1989 in Beijing.He was a member of the Chinese Communist Party, a secretary to Mao Zedong and a prominent member of the leadership during the Cultural Revolution, chairing the Cultural Revolution Group.-Early life:Chen Boda was born...

, who was quickly disgraced. Lin kept his position, but the events of the Lushan Conference revealed a growing distrust between Lin and Mao. Because Lin was one of the most influential figures in promoting Mao's personality cult, he began to be criticized within the Party for its excesses as early as 1970.

After 1970, a serious rift developed between Mao and Lin. Mao was displeased with comments that Lin had made about his wife, Jiang Qing, at the Lushan Conference. Generals loyal to Lin refused to accept Mao's criticism of them, and Mao began to question whether Lin continued to follow him unconditionally. Mao wanted Lin to make a self-criticism, but Lin stayed away from Beijing and resisted doing so. Ye Qun made a self-criticism, but it was rejected by Mao as not genuine. Zhou Enlai attempted to mediate between Mao and Lin, but by 1971 Lin had become extremely reclusive and difficult to talk with at any level, and Zhou's mediation failed. In July 1971 Mao decided to remove Lin and his supporters. Zhou again attempted to moderate Mao's resolution to act against Lin, but failed.

The "Lin Biao incident"


Lin died when a plane carrying him and several members of his family crashed in Mongolia on September 13 1971, allegedly after attempting to assassinate Mao and defect to the Soviet Union. Following Lin's death, there has been widespread skepticism in the West concerning the official Chinese explanation, but forensic evidence conducted by Russia (which recovered the bodies following the crash) has confirmed that Lin was among those who died in the crash.

Official Chinese narrative


According to the Chinese government, Lin Biao was made aware that Mao no longer trusted him after the Lushan Conference, and he harbored a strong desire to seize supreme power. In February 1971 Lin and his wife, Ye Qun (who was then a Politburo member), began to plot Mao's assassination. In March 1971, Lin's son, Lin Liguo (who was a senior Air Force officer) held a secret meeting with his closest followers at an Air Force base in Shanghai. At this meeting, Lin Liguo and his subordinates supposedly drafted a plan to organize a coup, titled "Project 571"
Project 571 Outline
Project 571 was the numeric codename given to an alleged plot or coup d'etat against Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1971 by the supporters of Lin Biao, then Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party of China. The operations were supposedly led by Lin's son, Lin Liguo, a high-ranking officer in the...

 (in Chinese, "5-7-1" is a homophone for "armed uprising"). Later that March, the group met again to formalize the structure of command following the proposed coup.

Mao was unaware of the coup plot; and, in August 1971, scheduled a conference for September to determine the political fate of Lin Biao. On August 15 Mao left Beijing to discuss the issue with other senior political and military leaders in southern China. On September 5, Lin received reports that Mao was preparing to purge him. On September 8, Lin gave the order to his subordinates to proceed with the coup.

Lin's subordinates planned to assassinate Mao by sabotaging his train before he returned to Beijing, but Mao unexpectedly changed his route on September 11. Mao's bodyguards foiled several subsequent attempts on Mao's life, and Mao safely returned to Beijing in the evening of September 12. By failing to assassinate Mao, Lin's coup attempt failed.

After realizing that their coup attempt had failed, Lin's party first considered fleeing south to their base of power in Guangzhou
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

, where they would establish an alternate base of power and attack armed forces loyal to Mao in cooperation with the Soviet Union. After hearing that prime minister Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 was investigating the incident, they abandoned this plan as impractical, and decided to flee to the Soviet Union instead. In the early morning of September 13, Lin Biao, Ye Qun, Lin Liguo, and several personal aides attempted to flee to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and boarded a prearranged Trident 1-E
Hawker Siddeley Trident
The Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident was a British short/medium-range three-engined jet airliner designed by de Havilland and built by Hawker Siddeley in the 1960s and 1970s...

, (a CAAC
Civil Aviation Administration of China
The Civil Aviation Administration of China , formerly the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China , is the aviation authority under the Ministry of Transport of the People's Republic of China. It oversees civil aviation and investigates aviation accidents and incidents...

 B-256) piloted by Pan Jingyin, the deputy commander of the PLAAF 34th division. The plane did not take aboard enough fuel before taking off, ran out of fuel, and crashed near Öndörkhaan in Mongolia on September 13, 1971. Everyone onboard, eight men and one woman, were killed.

Alternative/additional perspectives


The exact circumstances surrounding Lin's death remain unclear, due to a lack of surviving evidence. Many of the original government records relevant to Lin's death were secretly and intentionally destroyed, with the approval of the Politburo
Politburo of the Communist Party of China
The Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China or Political bureau of the CPC Central Committee , formerly as Central Bureau before 1927, is a group of 24 people who oversee the Communist Party of China...

, during the brief period of Hua Guofeng
Hua Guofeng
Su Zhu, better known by the nom de guerre Hua Guofeng , was Mao Zedong's designated successor as the Paramount Leader of the Communist Party of China and the People's Republic of China. Upon Zhou Enlai's death in 1976, he succeeded Zhou as the second Premier of the People's Republic of China...

's interregnum in the late 1970s. Among the records destroyed were telephone records, meeting minutes, personal notes, and desk diaries. The records, if they had survived, would have clarified the activities of Mao, Zhou Enlai, Jiang Qing, and Wang Dongxing
Wang Dongxing
Wang Dongxing was Mao Zedong's principal bodyguard during the Cultural Revolution....

 relative to Lin, before and after Lin's death. Because of the destruction of government documentation related to Lin's death, the Chinese government has relied on the "evidence" provided by the "confessions" of purged officials close to Lin to corroborate the official narrative, but non-Chinese scholars generally regard this "evidence" as unreliable.

Ever since 1971, scholars outside of China have been skeptical of the Chinese government's official explanation of the circumstances surrounding Lin's death, based on alleged inconsistencies in the official explanation and the general lack of evidence. Skeptics claim that the official narrative does not sufficiently explain why Lin, one of Mao's closest supporters and one of the most successful Communist generals, would suddenly attempt a poorly-planned, abortive coup. Skeptics have claimed that Lin's decision to flee to the Soviet Union was illogical, on the grounds that the United States and Taiwan would have been safer destinations. The government narrative also does not sufficiently explain how and why Lin's plane crashed. Influential Western historians critical of the Chinese government's official story have promoted the view that Lin did not have either the intention or the ability to usurp Mao's place within the government or the Party. One theory attempted to explain Lin's flight and death by observing that Lin opposed China's rapprochement with the United States, which Zhou Enlai was organizing with Mao's approval.

Because the Chinese government never produced evidence to support their report that Lin was onboard the plane that crashed in Mongolia, Western scholars originally doubted that Lin had died in the crash. One book, published anonymously using a Chinese pseudonym in 1983, claimed that Mao had actually had Lin and his wife killed in Beijing, and that Li Liguo had attempted to escape by air. Other scholars suggested that Mao had ordered the Chinese army to shoot down Lin's plane over Mongolia.

A six-month investigation by Western scholars in 1994 examined evidence in Russia, Mongolia, China, the United States, and Taiwan, and came to a number of conclusions, some of which were contrary to the official Chinese version of events. The study confirmed that Lin Biao, Ye Qun, and Li Liguo were all killed in the crash. Lin's plane was travelling away from the Soviet Union at the time of its crash, making the exact sequence of events before Lin's death more confusing, and casting doubt on the possibility that Lin was attempting to seek asylum in the USSR. Lin's wife and son may have forced Lin to board the plane against his will. Several senior leaders within the Communist Party hierarchy knew that Lin's party would flee, but chose not to attempt to stop their flight. According to this study, Lin had attempted to contact the Kuomintang
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 on Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 on two separate occasions shortly before his death. The findings of Lin's attempt to contact the Kuomintang supported earlier rumors from inside China that Lin was secretly negotiating with Chiang's government in order to restore the Kuomintang government in mainland China in return for a high position in the new government. The claims of Lin's contact with the Kuomintang have never formally confirmed nor denied by either the Communist government nor the Nationalist government in Taiwan.

The eyewitness account of Zhang Ning, who was Lin Liguo's fiancee before his death, and another witness who requested anonymity, indicate a sequence of events different from the official narrative. According in Zhang, Lin Biao had become extremely passive and inactive by 1971. When Lin Liguo informed Ye Qun that Mao was preparing to strip Ye of her Politburo seat, the two became convinced that their family would be purged if they failed to act, and developed a plan to escape.

At 10:00 PM on the night before Lin's party fled, Ye Qun announced that the family would board a plane at 7:00 AM the next morning to fly to Guangzhou
Guangzhou
Guangzhou , known historically as Canton or Kwangchow, is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port...

. Lin's 11-year old daughter, Lin Liheng (known by the nickname "Doudou") opposed the escape plan, and contacted Lin's bodyguards to request that they guard her father from Ye. Doudou then phoned Zhou Enlai and talked with him for 20-30 minutes, but the subject of their conversation is unknown.

Ye made an announcement that the party were to pack quickly. Two hours after Doudou contacted Zhou, soldiers had still not responded in any meaningful way. Ye and Lin Liguo woke Lin Biao and packed him into a waiting limousine. The party then drove to Shanhaiguan airport, 25 miles away from their residence in Beijing, where their plane was waiting. Lin's bodyguards told Doudou and another companion that they were ordered to take them as well, but Doudou and her companion refused.

One soldier shot at Lin's limousine as it left Beijing, but missed, and most soldiers that the party encountered on their way to the airport allowed the limousine to pass. According to the driver of Lin's limousine, there was no time to place mobile stairs next to the plane's entrance, so the party boarded the plane via a rope ladder. Lin Biao was so weak that he had to be lifted and pulled onto the plane.

Zhang Ning observed the plane after it left the airport. Lin's plane initially traveled southeast (in the direction of Guangzhou). The plane then returned twenty minutes later and circled the airport several times as if it were trying to land, but the runway lights had been turned off. Soviet officials and Mongolian witnesses reported that the plane then flew north, over Mongolia and almost to the Soviet border, but then turned around and began flying south before it crashed. A Mongolian who witnessed the plane crash reported that the plane's tail was on fire when it crashed.

Mongolian investigators were the first to inspect the wreckage, arriving later the same day. They found an identity card belonging to Lin Liguo, confirming Lin Liguo's presence on the flight. Markings on the plane and surviving miscellaneous personal items confirmed that the plane and passengers had originated from China, but the Mongolians were uncertain that any of the dead were either Lin Biao or Ye Qun. After inspecting the crash, the Mongolians buried the dead onsite.

Later in 1971 a Soviet medical team secretly traveled to the crash site and exhumed the bodies, which were by then modestly decomposed. The team removed the heads of two of the corpses suspected to be Lin Biao and Ye Qun and took them back to Russia for forensic examination. In 1972 the team concluded that the heads belonged to Lin Biao and Ye Qun (the heads are still stored in Russian archives). In order to corroborate their findings the team returned to Mongolia a second time to inspect the body believed to be Lin Biao's. After exhuming the body a second time the team found that the corpse's right lung had the remains of tuberculosis, which Lin had suffered from, confirming the Soviet identification. The Soviet team were not able to determine the cause of the crash, but hypothesized that the pilot was flying low to evade radar and misjudged the plane's altitude. Judging from the fires that burnt after the plane crashed, the Soviets estimated that it had enough fuel to fly to the Soviet cities of Irkutsk
Irkutsk
Irkutsk is a city and the administrative center of Irkutsk Oblast, Russia, one of the largest cities in Siberia. Population: .-History:In 1652, Ivan Pokhabov built a zimovye near the site of Irkutsk for gold trading and for the collection of fur taxes from the Buryats. In 1661, Yakov Pokhabov...

 or Chita
Chita
-Places:* Chita, Aichi, a city in Aichi Prefecture, Japan* Chita District, Aichi, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan* Chita Peninsula, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan* Chita, Zabaykalsky Krai, a city in Russia...

. All of the work and its results were kept secret from the public: outside of the investigative team, only KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 director Yuri Andropov
Yuri Andropov
Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov was a Soviet politician and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 12 November 1982 until his death fifteen months later.-Early life:...

 and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Brezhnev
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  – 10 November 1982) was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union , presiding over the country from 1964 until his death in 1982. His eighteen-year term as General Secretary was second only to that of Joseph Stalin in...

 were informed. The report remained classified until the early 1990s, after the end of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

.

The Chinese government has no interest in re-evaluating its narrative on the death of Lin Biao. When contacted for its comment on fresh evidence that surfaced on the Lin Biao incident after the Cold War, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China is an executive agency responsible for foreign relations between the People's Republic of China and other countries in the world. The agency is led by the Foreign Minister. The current minister is Yang Jiechi...

 stated: "China already has a clear, authoritative conclusion about the Lin Biao incident. Other foreign reports of a conjectural nature are groundless." Non-Chinese scholars interpreted China's reluctance to consider evidence that contradicts its "official" history as the result of a desire to avoid exploring any issue that may lead to criticism of Mao Zedong, or which may distract China from pursuing economic growth.

Aftermath



Lin Biao was survived by Doudou and one other daughter. All military officials identified as being close to Lin or his family (most of China's high military command) were purged within weeks of Lin's disappearance. Within a month of Lin's disappearance, over 1,000 senior Chinese military officials were purged. The incident marked the end of the myth that Mao was always considered absolutely correct within the Party. The National Day
National Day of the People's Republic of China
The National Day of the People's Republic of China is celebrated every year on October 1. It is a public holiday in the People's Republic of China to celebrate their national day.The PRC was founded on October 1, 1949 with a ceremony at Tiananmen Square...

 celebrations on October 1, 1971, were cancelled.

The position of the Chinese government on Lin and the circumstances of of his death changed several times over the decade following 1971. For over a year the Party first attempted to cover up the details of Lin's death. The government then began to issue partial details of the event, followed by an anti-Lin Biao propaganda campaign. After Mao's death, in 1976, the government confirmed its condemnation of Lin and generally ceased any dialogue concerning Lin's place in history.

In 1974, Jiang Qing, Mao's fourth wife and a former political ally of Lin's, started the Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius campaign, aimed at using Lin's scarred image to attack Zhou Enlai. Much of this propaganda campaign involved the creative falsification of history, including (false) details about how Lin had opposed Mao's leadership and tactics thoroughout his career.

Lin's name became involved in Jiang's propaganda campaign after flashcards, made by Ye Qun to record Lin's thoughts, were discovered in Lin's residence following his death. Some of these flashcards recorded opinions critical of Mao. According to Lin's writings, Mao "will fabricate 'your' opinion first, then he will change 'your' opinion - which is not actually yours, but his fabrication. I should be careful of this standard trick." Another critical comment of Lin's states that Mao "worships himself and has a blind faith in himself. He worships himself to such an extent that all accomplishments are attributed to him, but all mistakes are made by others".

Like many major proponents of the Cultural Revolution, Lin's image was manipulated after Mao's death in 1976, and many negative aspects of the Cultural Revolution were blamed on Lin. After October 1976, those in power also blamed Mao's supporters, the so-called Gang of Four.

In 1980, the Chinese government held a series of "special trials" to identify those most responsible for the Cultural Revolution. In 1981, the government released their verdict: that Lin Biao must be held, along with Jiang Qing, as one of the two major "counter-revolutionary cliques" responsible for the excesses of the late 1960s. According to the official Party verdict, Lin and Jiang were singled out for blame because they led inter-Party cliques which took advantage of Mao's "mistakes" to advance their own political goals, engaging in "criminal activity" to for their own self-benefit. Lin has been officially remembered as one of the greatest villains of modern China since then. Lin was never politically rehabilitated, so the charges against him continue to stand.

For several decades Lin's name and image were censored within China, but in recent years a balanced image of Lin has reappeared in popular culture: Surviving aides and family members have published memoirs about their experience with Lin; scholars have explored most surviving evidence relevant to his life and death, and have gained exposure within the official Chinese media; movies set before 1949 have made reference to Lin; and, Lin's name has re-appeared in Chinese history textbooks, recognizing his contributions to the victory of the Red Army. Within modern China, Lin is regarded as one of the Red Army's best military strategists. In 2007 a portrait of Lin was added to the Chinese Military Museum
Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
The Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, or China People's Revolution Military Museum is a museum located in Beijing, China immediately west of central Beijing in Haidian District...

 in Beijing, included in a display of the "Ten Marshals", a group considered to be the founders of China's armed forces.

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