Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 21. 5th September 1973
Lin Piao seems to have decided, probably correctly, that his hopes for supreme power were ended. So from the heir-apparent, as he appeared in photos and paintings with his perpetually wagging little red book, Lin turned into a classical, feudal-type conspirator from that moment on. Some elements of the drama played out in 1971 have been revealed piecemeal but the full, complete account goes as follows, as confirmed by most authoritative sources in Peking.
In the late summer of 1971, Mao made a tour of some of the vital military regions, explaining the sort of conspiracy which he already knew that his "heir-apparent" was hatching, securing the loyalty of commanders of key military units.
Lin had used the May 16 Movement to discredit veteran Marshals such as Ho Lung, Chen Yi and others. He had also put his own men in many of the key posts at the top where it was relatively easy to guard the secrecy of the plot. It was not the same with the commanders of field units. As the deputy commander of the PLA's 1 79 division stationed in the Nanking area told me in regard to Lin Piao's influence; "Ours is a people's army created and led by Chairman Mao. It was so, is so and will always be so...." In other words, Lin could only resort to a top-level plot. In any confrontation of loyalties towards himself or Mao Tsetung. Lin knew he would never stand a chance.
On Sept. 12, 1971, Mao was returning to Peking from Shanghai by train. Lin had arranged to blow up the train somewhere north of Nanking. If anything went wrong, a second attempt would be made further along the line.
Lin seemed to have been impressed by the way the Japanese blew up the Manchurian warlord, Marshal Chang Tso-lin in his train in December 1931, thus precipitating the Japanese takeover of Manchuria, as there is a reference to this in some captured documents relating to the plot.
Lin however ran into just those sort of difficulties that could be anticipated once details of the plot had to be diffused to lower-down operatives. The officer in charge of the first bomb attempt had misgivings and proved unable to perform such a task.
Mao travelled over the first charge safely, unaware of any danger. Warnings were flashed to page 13 Peking, as a result of the officer's misgivings. A few station before the second charge was due to be exploded, the train was halted. Mao was urged to descend rapidly and move into a car, ordered by Chou En-lai to bring him by road to Peking with an appropriate escort. Thus the first two assassination attempts were foiled.
Later that night Chou-En-lai learned that Lin Piao (still not suspected as being behind the assassination attempts) had ordered a couple of Trident passenger planes to an airfield near Peitaho, a seaside resort some distance east of Peaking where in Piao, his wife and "genius" son and some top staff people, were supposed to be holidaying.
Lin had used his conviction about the "genius" qualities of hit son, Lin Li-kuo. to secure the son's rapid promotion to Deputy Director of Operations of the Chinese Air Force at the ripe age of 24. His "expertise" may well have been a decisive factor in the disaster that followed.