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Wang Zhen
Wang Zhen in 1955
Vice President of the People's Republic of China

In office
March 15, 1988 – March 12, 1993
President Yang Shangkun
Preceded by Ulanhu
Succeeded by Rong Yiren
Vice Chairman of the Central Advisory Commission

In office
April 1982 – June 1985
President Li Xiannian
Preceded by New office
Succeeded by Song Renqiong
Personal details
Born (1908-04-11)April 11, 1908
Liuyang, Changsha, Hunan, Qing Dynasty
Died March 12, 1993(1993-03-12) (aged 84)
Guangzhou, People's Republic of China
Political party Communist Party of China

Wang Zhen (April 11, 1908 – March 12, 1993) was a Chinese political figure and one of the Eight Elders of the Communist Party of China. He was a close associate of the powerful Chinese President Li Xiannian.

Early career

Like most Chinese communist leaders, Wang was a commander in his early years. During World War II when the communist base in northwestern China was blockaded by Kuomintang forces under the command of Hu Zongnan, Wang Zhen gained fame as the brigade commander of the 359th Brigade for successfully converting waste land in Nanniwan into productive farm land, and the agricultural output not only supported the brigade itself, but also with a substantial surplus to support other parts of the communist base. The success was later lauded by the communists as an example of self-sufficiency.

In October 1945, one month after the surrender of the Japanese, Wang was promoted to lead one of the seven columns of the Northwest Field Army, under the command of Peng Dehuai. Wang fought against the Kuomintang until most of Chiang Kai-shek's forces were withdrawn to Taiwan in September 1949. In October Wang's forces were directed by Peng to occupy Xinjiang. Most defenders surrendered peacefully to Wang, and were incorporated into the PLA.[1]

In the People's Republic of China

After the communist revolution, Wang Zhen was one of only two Chinese commanders who were authorized to carry guns when visiting Mao Zedong. The other one was Xu Shiyou (许世友), but Xu never carried a gun when visiting Mao. Wang Zhen, on the other hand, wore his gun for his first visit. When stopped by Mao's bodyguards, Wang Zhen began to argue with them. Mao investigated the noise, and told his bodyguards that he trusted Wang fully, and unless Wang was carrying atomic bombs, Wang could carry anything he wanted when he visited Mao. After that incident, Wang never wore a weapon while visiting Mao.

In October 1952, Wang Zhen's younger brother, Wang Yumei (王馀美) asked him to provide money to build a mansion for their mother in their hometown, but Wang Zhen refused. When Wang Zhen visited his hometown several years later, it was discovered his younger brother Wang Yumei (王馀美) had kept ducks for their family but allowed them to feed on grain produced on public land, but because Wang Yumei (王馀美) was his younger brother, nobody dared to say or do anything. Wang Zhen personally held a public gathering denouncing his younger brother, and ordered lieutenant Hu Shizhong (胡世中), the commander of the local garrison, to confiscate all ducks owned by Wang Yumei's family. For good measure, he threatened to beat his younger brother in public if he dared to do any similar again. Wang Zhen's treatment of his younger brother earned him a good reputation and many top brass of the communist regime were impressed, feeling that it was good propaganda for the communists.

Later years

Despite his uncorrupt behavior in the 1950s, and his strong support for Chinese economic reform, Wang Zhen was not popular among Chinese people after 1979 due to his political hard line conservatism. His political support of Deng Xiaoping and being a member of his regime was largely due to his close personal friendship with Deng, which was further strengthened by their common opposition to radical political reforms. As one of the architects of the suppression by force of the pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, he was quoted in the Tiananmen Papers as stating in a June 2, 1989 meeting with other Communist Party of China elders: "We should announce in advance to those people occupying the Square that we're coming in. They can listen or not as they choose, but then we move in. If it causes deaths, that's their own fault. We can't be soft or merciful toward anti-Party, anti-socialist elements." He served as the Vice-President of the People's Republic of China from 1988 to 1993 under President Yang Shangkun.

In August 1989 a colonel in the People's Liberation Army, Zhang Zhenglong, published a 618-page reflection of his experiences fighting for the Red Army in Manchuria in the late 1940s, White Snow, Red Blood. In this book, Zhang claimed that Wang Zhen had smuggled opium during the Chinese Civil War. This and other claims made Zhang a target of Wang. Zhang was eventually arrested for making these claims, and his book was censored on mainland China.[2]


Another quotation from Wáng Zhèn is said to be: "The Communist Party of China established our government in China at the cost of 40 million people's lives. Any attempt to steal the control of the government from the Party without exchanging with 40 million lives for it is daydreaming!" Wang Zhen died on March 12, 1993, and his last spoken words was that:"I would visit Marx, and (then) report to Chairman Mao, Commander-in-Chief Zhu, and Premier Zhou", the three people he was most loyal to, in addition to Deng Xiaoping, who was still alive. The last written words Wang Zhen left were: "Salute to the (Chinese Communist) Party! Salute to the (Chinese) People! Salute to the PLA!"

Political offices
Preceded by
Vice-President of China
Succeeded by
Rong Yiren

See also


  1. Domes 43, 46
  2. Uhalley and Qiu 386


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