Former Chinese leader Hua Guofeng dies

Hua Guofeng, who briefly ruled China as communist founder Mao Zedong's successor but was pushed aside as a prelude to reforms that launched an economic boom, has died. He was 87.
State broadcaster CCTV said Wednesday that Hua died of an unspecified illness.
He took power after Mao's death in September 1976, but saw his powers erode until Deng Xiaoping took control two years later. Hua was forced out as Communist Party chairman in 1981 and slipped into obscurity.
In contrast to the harsh purges of earlier eras, when fallen leaders were banished to remote villages, Hua remained part of the inner circle as a member of the party's Central Committee.
Shortly after Hua took power, Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, and other members of the Gang of Four were arrested, marking the end of the violent 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. But it wasn't clear whether Hua played any part in the arrests.
When he was forced out as party leader in 1981, one stated reason was that Hua had continued to espouse the ultraradical ideals of the Cultural Revolution.
Little is known about Hua's final years. Some reports said he resigned from the party for health reasons in 2001, the year he turned 80, but the government didn't confirm that.
Born to a poor family in 1921, Hua became a guerrilla fighter in Mao's communist movement at 15 when it was battling for survival against Chiang Kai-shek's ruling Nationalists.
After the 1949 revolution, Hua served in provincial government and party posts until he was named to the Central Committee in 1969. He became party secretary of Hunan, Mao's home province, the following year.
Hua was named vice premier in 1975 and then premier, succeeding the late Zhou Enlai.
After Mao's death, as rival factions struggled for power, Hua became a compromise candidate to head the party. Mao was said to have told him, "With you in charge, I'm at ease."
When Hua took power, China was in the grip of the Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao as an attack on potential rivals. Millions were persecuted while the economy was pushed to the brink of collapse.
The arrests of the Gang of Four symbolically ended the era of upheaval and self-imposed isolation.
Deng, who saw Hua as an obstacle to his economic plans, maneuvered to replace him.
Hua was effectively stripped of his powers at a party meeting in December, 1978. The same gathering approved Deng's "reform and opening" policy legalizing small-scale private farms, the first step in what became China's successful capitalist reform program.

Updated : 2021-01-28 14:56 GMT+08:00