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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973

Rivals for Power

Rivals for Power

The report makes it clear that Lin Piao was a most enthusiastic supporter of the cultural revolution because it enabled him to eliminate a very serious rival for power Liu Shao-chi, and many others, while reinforcing his public and party image as the closest and most devoted alter ego of Chairman Mao. Similarly when Liu and a number of other important "rightists" and "capitalist roaders" were eliminated, Lin Piao used the so-called May 16 Movement in what at first seemed an "ultra-leftist" movement to eliminate as many others as possible, starting with his most serious rival left. Premier Chou En-Lai.

When the ultra-leftists stormed the Foreign Ministry in mid-1967 and viciously denounced the Foreign Minister. Marshal Chen Yi, it was Chou En-lai who was the real target. Chen Yi fought back like a lion, valiantly defended by Chou En-lai, but Chen Yi went down fighting and was eclipsed for a certain time. Then the ultra-leftists, directed from behind by Lin Piao, turned their guns directly on Chou En-lai, but behind Chou En-lai stood squarely Mao Tsetung and this was too big a target to take on openly.

Chou En-lai was very briefly eclipsed but when his detractors demanded that he appear before them, Mao said, "Agreed, as long as I stand with him."

All the above is part of the essential back-ground to understanding the dramatics of Sept, 12-13, 1971 But there are two other essential links in the chain of events.

At the Ninth Party Congress in April 1969, Mao rejected out-of-hand and into to the report that Lin Piao had prepared. Another report was drafted which won Mao's approval but on the question of having Lin Piao named as his successor it was apparently the second time in Mao's life that he was "in agreement with the others on the essence of a problem against my will." Doubtless Mao could not afford an open confrontation with Lin before the dust of the cultural revolution had settled, in view of the key role played by the army.

But at the Second Central Committee Plenum of the Ninth Congress, the Mao-Lin confrontation broke out into the open, as far as party affairs were concerned. Lin Piao's supporters with his wife Yeh Chun, the leading activist in pushing from behind, proposed that Lin Piao be appointed President of the Republic — a post left vacant after Liu Shao-chi's disgrace. Mao opposed this and delivered a very strong criticism of Lin for his over-impatience in his bid for the leadership. Doubtless this will be a passionately interesting section of the report, if it is published verbatim.