Zhang Wentian

Zhang Wentian

Zhang Wentian (zh-stp|s=张闻天|t=張聞天|p=Zhāng Wéntiān) (1900–July 1, 1976), also known as Luo Fu, was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from 1935 to March 20, 1943.


A native of Pudong Shanghai, Zhang joined the CPC in 1925 and was sent to study at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow, which was set up under Kuomintang's founder Sun Yat-sen's policy of alliance between the Soviet Union and CPC to train Chinese revolutionaries and named after him. It was there Zhang came to know Wang Ming and play an active role in the following group 28 Bolsheviks.

Around 1930 Zhang and his fellows in 28 Bolsheviks such as Wang and Bo Gu returned to China to take charge of the CPC with support from their mentors in Moscow, and they won the power struggle with Li Lisan who was in charge of the CPC at that time. Zhang was appointed as Minister of the Propaganda Department, Interim Member and then Standing Member of the politburo of the CPC. Owing to 28 Bolsheviks being immature and extremists in revolution, the CPC suffered from great losses in cities under their direction, which resulted in Zhang and other prominent figures retreating to the CPC base in Jiangxi in 1933. As they applied the same policy, defeat was inevitable and the Long March began.

Perhaps witnessing too many heavy casualties made Zhang turn over to think about the right way of revolution in China, and as a result he and Wang Jiaxiang and Yang Shangkun, other prominent figures of 28 Bolsheviks, defected to Mao Zedong's camp in Zunyi Conference during the Long March. It was at this conference that Bo Gu and military advisor from Comintern Otto Braun or Li De were discharged from their command in the military to Mao. As a compromise, Zhang was appointed as General Secretary of the CPC to replace Bo Gu although Mao received support from most senior party and military leaders.

When Zhang reached Yan'an, he was in charge of ideology and propaganda work for which in 1938 he wrote a book, "Youth Accomplishment" (zh-stp|s=论青年修养|t=論青年修養|p=lùn qīngnián xiūyǎng), which greatly influenced the youth. Although most of the time he acted like a puppet, and he pledged his allegiance to Mao during Mao's power struggle with Wang Ming and Zhang Guotao, this could not change his fate of removed from the standing committee and his position taken by Mao Zedong in the 7th National Congress of the CPC in 1945.

After the end of Chinese anti-Japanese War, Zhang was sent to Manchuria with Lin Biao, Gao Gang and Chen Yun to set up a base for CPC resistance to Kuomintang.

After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, he became the Chinese Ambassador to Soviet Union and Under Secretary of the Foreign Ministry. He was disgraced in the Lushan Conference in 1959 because he criticized Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward. Zhang and Defence Minister Peng Dehuai, Chief of Staff Huang Kecheng and CPC General Secretary of Hunan Province Zhou Xiaozhou were labelled as an anti-CPC group and stripped of CPC membership. Zhang did not survive the persecution of the Cultural Revolution and died in 1976 in exile. He wrote to Mao asked permission to go to Beijing for Medical treatment while he had heart disease and was hospitalized in a a hospital even did not have oxygen in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. Mao refused his petition to go to Beijing. He was posthumously rehabilitated in 1978.

Zhang was a versatile scholar, expert in Marxism, western history and philosophy, and wrote and translated many articles in these fields.

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