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Wei Guoqing

From left:Han Zhenji, Liang Xingchu, Huang Kecheng, Zhang Aiping and Wei Guoqing, marking the meeting of the Fifth Column of the Eighth Route Army and the Northern Jiangsu Command of the New Fourth Army in Dongtai, Jiangsu on October 10, 1940.

Wei Guoqing (simplified Chinese: 韦国清; traditional Chinese: 韋國清; pinyin: Wéi Guóqīng; Zhuang: Veiz Gozcing) (2 September 1913 – 14 June 1989) was a Chinese government official, military officer and political commissar. He served on the Communist Party of China's Politburo (1973–82) and as Director of the People's Liberation Army's General Political Department (1977–82). Wei was one of the few members of the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Central Committees (1969–87) and the 10th through 12th politburos not purged during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) or Deng Xiaoping's backlash.[1] He was also a Vice Chair of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (1975–89) and of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (1964–83).

Wei was born in Donglan, Guangxi, to a poor Zhuang minority family.[2] He joined the Chinese Red Army at the age of 16 (1929) and the CPC in 1931. He rose to the rank of battalion commander in the Seventh Army under Deng Xiaoping and was a regimental commander on the Long March. After the Long March he served in the 344th Brigade, and then marched south under Huang Kecheng's 5th Column in January 1940.[3] By 1944, he commanded the 4th Division of the New Fourth Army, and later three columns (the 2nd, 10th and 12th) of the North Jiangsu Army in the Huai-Hai Campaign. In 1948, Wei held off the Nationalist 2nd Army Corps of Qiu Qingquan and 100 tanks of the 5th Corps under the command of Jiang Weiguo (Chiang Wei-kuo, Chiang Kai-shek's son) in a decisive delaying action in the Huai-Hai Campaign.[4] In 1949, Wei was deputy political commissar of General Ye Fei's Tenth Army Group of the Third Field Army.


Wei was deeply involved in China's relations with North Vietnam from 1950. In April of that year, Liu Shaoqi sent him to Vietnam as head of the Chinese Military Advisory Group, to advise Ho Chi Minh on fighting the French;[5] Wei remained in Vietnam until September 1955. In this role he led a group of 281 experienced military officers from the Second, Third and Fourth Field Armies in a mission that began within days of the outbreak of the Korean War. Wei's work across Field Army lines would stand him in good stead later in his career. General Chen Geng joined the CMAG in July as the representative of the Central Committee, but left for Korea in November, leaving Wei as the senior Chinese official in Vietnam.

In October 1953, Wei reportedly personally gave Ho Chi Minh a copy of the French Navarre plan.[6] In response, the Viet Minh pushed on to Lai Chau and toward northern Laos, rather than the Red River Delta. Some months later, in 1954, Wei is said to have advised General Vo Nguyen Giap to surround and attack General Navarre at Dien Bien Phu, a strategy that eventually led to complete French withdrawal from Indochina.

In June 1954, Wei attended the 1954 Geneva Conference on Indochina with Premier Zhou Enlai, USSR Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, Vietnamese representative Phạm Văn Đồng, US State Department official Bedell Smith and UK Deputy Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs for Administration Anthony Eden. Wei was specifically instructed to discuss military matters with the Vietnamese delegation when Molotov, Smith and Eden were not present.[7] Wei, Pham, Ho, General Giap and others went to Nanning, Guangxi, in late June 1954 to discuss strategy for Indochina.

When formal military ranks were introduced in 1955, Wei Guoqing was made a general, and in 1956 became an Alternate Member of the Central Committee at the Eighth National Party Congress.[8]

Guangxi and Guangdong

After returning to China, Wei moved to Nanning, Guangxi, where he was the senior party (1961-GPCR) and government (1955-GPCR) official in Guangxi Autonomous Region for an unusually long period. It was from Guangxi and Yunnan that Chinese troops entered Vietnam in 1965–70.[9]

In his role as the senior-most official in Guangxi, Wei hosted the January 1958 Nanning Conference, attended by Chairman Mao Zedong and most of the very top leadership.[10] While Wei was a junior among the heavyweights, he was present at one of the decisive Great Leap Forward discussions where outrageous targets were approved.[11]

General Wei was named 1st Political Commissar of the Guangxi Military District (MD) in January 1964, a post he held until October 1975. He added the leadership of the CPC committee in February 1971.[12]

During the Cultural Revolution, Wei managed to keep control of Guangxi. In March 1967, Zhou Enlai ordered the establishment of the "Guangxi Revolutionary Preparatory Group," headed by incumbent CPC 1st Party Secretary Wei. However, Wei was beaten by a Guangxi-origin mob in August while visiting Beijing. In 1968, the "Guangxi April 22 Revolutionary Action Command" opposed Wei Guoqing's leadership while the "Guangxi United Command of Proletarian Revolutionaries" supported him.[13] After the PLA backers of the former group were transferred to Beijing, Wei launched an artillery bombardment on parts of the city controlled by his opponents. The resulting conflict saw the destruction of some 166 boats on the Nanning river, and dozens of buildings. The results were endorsed by the faction in charge in Beijing. He was named Chairman of the Guangxi Revolutionary Committee in August 1968, and remained in that post, and the province, until October 1975.

As concerns about Marshall Lin Biao's loyalties began to arise, Mao Zedong in August 1971 met with regional leaders in Changsha, including Hua Guofeng, and Wei to criticize Lin; and in Nanchang with Xu Shiyou and Han Xianchu.

Central Leadership

In December 1973, Wei was named 1st Political Commissar of the Guangzhou Military Region (MR), a post he held until the end of 1978. The MR Commander, General Xu Shiyou, was an old ally of Deng Xiaoping and together they sheltered him from the Gang of Four after the April 1976 Tiananmen Incident and Deng's third purge.

In the post-Mao reshuffle, General Wei took over the PLA General Political Department (GPD) from Gang of Four member Zhang Chunqiao, thus becoming the political commissar for the entire People's Liberation Army. He was also named to the 11th Central Committee Politburo, in 1977. Wei served in the GPD and Deputy Secretary-General and Standing Committee member of the CPC Military Affairs Commission, 1977–82.

Wei's old Guangzhou MR partner, General Xu Shiyou, took overall commend (along with General Yang Dezhi) of the Chinese invasion of Vietnam in February 1979. However, General Wei does not appear to have had a direct role in the Sino-Vietnamese War, possibly due to his close workings with the Vietnamese in the 1950s and 1960s.

In August 1982, Liberation Army Daily, the newspaper directly under General Political Department Director Wei's authority, published a broadside against "bourgeois liberalization" that was seen as an attack on Deng Xiaoping's policies just prior to the 12thParty Congress. As a result, Wei was dismissed, and replaced by General Yu Qiuli.[14]


  1. The others were Marshall Ye Jianying, General Xu Shiyou, economist Li Xiannian, and "mass" representative Ni Zhifu
  2. Editorial Board, Who's Who in China Current Leaders (Foreign Languages Press: Beijing, 1989), ISBN 0-8351-2352-9), pp.728-729
  3. Whitson, William and Huang Chen-hsia, The Chinese High Command: A History of Chinese Military Politics, 1927-71 (Praeger Publishers: New York, 1973), p. 219.
  4. Whitson, pp. 197-198.
  5. Li Xiaobing, A history of the modern Chinese Army (University Press of Kentucky, 2007), ISBN 0-8131-2438-7, ISBN 978-0-8131-2438-4 p. 208
  6. Qiang Zhai, China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 (UNC Press, 2000) ISBN 0-8078-4842-5, ISBN 978-0-8078-4842-5 p. 45.
  8. Who's Who, p. 729.
  9. Li Xiaobing, p. 219.
  10. Teiwes, Frederick C. and Sun, Warren, China's road to disaster: Mao, central politicians, and provincial leaders in the unfolding of the great leap forward, 1955-1959 (M.E. Sharpe, 1999) ISBN 0-7656-0201-6, ISBN 978-0-7656-0201-5, pp. 234-235.
  11. Chan, Alfred L., Mao's crusade: politics and policy implementation in China's great leap forward (Oxford University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-19-924406-5, ISBN 978-0-19-924406-5 p. 116
  12. Lamb, Malcolm, Directory of Officials and Organizations in China: 1968-83 (M.E. Sharpe, Inc: Armonnk, 1983) ISBN 0-87332-277-0 ( pp. 502-503
  13. MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael, Mao's last revolution (Harvard University Press, 2006), ISBN 0-674-02332-3, ISBN 978-0-674-02332-1, p. 244.
  14. Lampton, David M., Paths to Power: Elite Mobility in Contemporary China (Michigan Monographs in Chinese Studies, Volume 55, The University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, Ann Arbor 1986), ISBN 0-89264-064-2, p. 197
Preceded by
Chen Manyuan (1953-58)
Governor of Guangxi
Succeeded by
An Pingsheng (1975-77)
Preceded by
Liu Jianxun (1957-61)
Secretary of the CPC Guangxi Committee
Succeeded by
Qiao Xiaoguan (1966-67
Preceded by
Qiao Xiaoguan (1966-67)
Secretary of the CPC Guangxi Committee
Succeeded by
An Pingsheng (1975-77
Preceded by
Zhao Ziyang (1974-75)
Governor of Guangdong
Succeeded by
Xi Zhongxun (1979-81)
Preceded by
Zhao Ziyang (1974-75)
Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Committee
Succeeded by
Xi Zhongxun (1979-81
Preceded by
Zhang Chunqiao (1975-76)
PLA General Political Department Director
Succeeded by
Yu Qiuli (1982-87)

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