Project 571 Outline


Project 571 Outline

Project 571 (zh-c|c=五七一工程) was the numeric codename given to a plotted "coup d'etat" against Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1971 by the supporters of Lin Biao, then Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party of China. The operations were led by Lin's son, Lin Liguo, a high-ranking officer in the People's Liberation Air Force. The plot ultimately failed and resulted in an attempt for Lin's family and supporters to flee the country. Lin died in a plane crash while attempting to flee to the Soviet Union in September 1971.

Genesis of the plot

On March 21, 1971, Lin Biao's son Lin Liguo, along with high-ranking military officers Zhou Yuchi, Yu Xinye and Li Weixin, gathered in Shanghai to allegedly plot a secret coup against Mao Zedong. It is unclear whether Lin Biao was at all involved in the initial stages of the planning. Upon dissecting the political situation, they ascertained that in the scope of Chinese authority and power, Lin Biao was, at present, second only to Chairman Mao. However, this was in danger of slowly eroding. The "power of the literati" (represented by Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan et al) was coming to the fore, creating the imminent possibility that Lin Biao could be replaced by Zhang Chunqiao.

The Lin family analyzed the succession issue, and concluded that there were three likely outcomes: the first was Lin Biao would be peacefully succeeded, the second was that Lin Biao would be forcibly replaced and the third likelihood was that Lin Biao could take pre-emptive action to avoid being deposed and seize power for himself.

The conspirators suggested two methods: dispose of Zhang Chunqiao, maintain the status of premier, and then peacefully accede to being succeeded when the time comes. The other choice was to eliminate Mao Zedong.

However, Mao's influence and prestige was considerable, and it would be difficult politically to deal with, thus this was the least preferred option. It was eventually agreed that a peaceful transition should take place while simultaneously preparing for armed rebellion.

Creation of Project 571

A concrete plan would need to be put to paper, and a team to indoctrinate the armed forces about the plan would need to be organized. Lin Liguo decided the plan would be called "Project 571", a play on its near-homonym "armed uprising" (zh-c|c=武装起义).

From March 23 to 24, Yu Xinye drafted the Project 571 Outline, the original manuscript of which was recovered after the coup failed. In the Outline, Lin Liguo et al plotted a total of eight ways to eliminate Mao Zedong. Among them were detonating his train, a railway bridge,using napalm, or even simply a handgun to assassinate him.

After the plot was foiled and Lin Biao's power had waned, Mao Zedong permitted the Project 571 Outline papers to be circulated among Cadres in the Communist Party at even the county level.

Communist officials currently maintain the following viewpoints about the Project 571 Outline: "It is obviously is written from an extreme counter-revolutionary standpoint, seeking to use the dissatisfaction of the masses" and "sullied the People's democratic political power". Most seriously, using "bring down the modern Qin Shi Huang - B-52" as their slogan and creed, and conspiring to foment an armed counter-revolutionary coup, to kill the People's beloved Chairman Mao and to establish a fascist dictatorship.

The Outline contains some language censuring Zhang Chunqiao, illustrating the schism between the two counter-revolutionary groups. It also reflects certain truthful situations, such as cadres being under pressure. However, this is no way can be used to prove the correctness of the counter-revolutionary assertions" and so forth.

Explanation of codes used in the outline

* "B-52" referred to Mao Zedong.
* "Main enemy fleet" referred to Mao's supporters.
* "Wang, Chen and Jiang" were Wang Weiguo, Chen Liyun and Jiang Tengjiao, some of Lin Biao's supporters.
* "Project 01" references a dispatch telegraph whose design was masterminded by Lin Liguo.
* Eda Island, site of the Japanese naval academy where Kamikaze pilots were indoctrinated in the spiritual training of Bushido.
* "Death before dishonor", a slogan that Chiang Kai-Shek used to train his cadres.

Notable effects

Mao Zedong, in order to explain the origins of the Lin Biao coup to the Communist Party cadres, was compelled to release the Outline papers to the inner party members. Objectively, this served to lift the curtain to reveal the behind-the-scenes machinations in the Party, showing the hidden unrest.

See also

* Cultural Revolution
* Mao Zedong
* Lin Biao

External links

* [http://www.odu.edu/ao/instadv/quest/linbiao.html Distorting History: Lessons From The Lin Biao Incident] article by Qiu Jin author of "The Culture of Power: The Lin Biao Incident in the Cultural Revolution", Stanford University Press (June 1999), ISBN-10: 0804735298
* [http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=ft9n39p3pc&chunk.id=d0e7995&toc.id=d0e7995&brand=eschol] book by Hong Yung Lee, author of "From Revolutionary Cadres to Party Technocrats in Socialist China", UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS,© 1990 The Regents of the University of California


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