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Mao Yuanxin

Mao Yuanxin (born 14 February 1941) was the liaison between Chinese leader Mao Zedong and the Communist Party's Central Committee in the former's ailing years, when he was no longer able to regularly attend political functions. He was Mao Zedong's nephew and considered an ally to the hardline political faction known as the Gang of Four, and was arrested soon after Mao's death after a political struggle ensued, and was sentenced to prison.


Born on 14 February 1941, Mao Yuanxin is the son of Mao Zemin, a younger brother of Mao Zedong. Mao Zemin had joined the Communist Party in 1922 and was killed by a warlord in 1943. Sheng Shicai, governor of Xinjiang, had been aligned to the Chinese Communist Party and had at first welcomed Mao Zemin, but switched allegiance after Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Mao Yuanxin's mother was also arrested, and Yuanxin was born in jail.[1] After Mao Yuanxin's mother remarried, he was brought up as part of his uncle's family.

In 1960, Mao Yuanxin was admitted to Tsinghua University, then transferred to the PLA Institute of Military Engineering and became politically important during the Cultural Revolution. In 1973 he became party secretary of Liaoning province and political commissar of Shenyang Military Region in 1974.[2] Mao was ailing from complications of Alzheimer's Disease and was no longer able to attend Central Committee meetings on a regular basis. As a result, Mao Yuanxin became the Chairman's liaison with the Politburo in 1975,[3] and contributed to the temporary fall of Deng Xiaoping in 1976, as well as a series of other political manuoevers of the Gang of Four.

During Mao Zedong's final years, it was clear Mao Yuanxin had a close relationship with the 'Gang of Four'.[4] He was arrested along with other of their supporters following Mao's death in October 1976, and was sentenced to seventeen years in prison.[5] Mao's private doctor, Li Zhisui, claimed Mao Yuanxin tried to bring troops from the Northeast to Beijing.

Mao Yuanxin faded from public view after the end of the Cultural Revolution. Little is known about him in the West. For example, Time Magazine reported in 1995 that he "now labors in an obscure Shanghai factory".[6] He had been released from prison in October 1993 after serving his sentence. He changed his name to "Li Shi" ( ) and worked in the Shanghai Automobile Industry Quality Testing Institute. He retired in 2001, and receives a pension in accordance with his "senior technician" qualification. He also receives treatment as a "martyr's family member" because of his father's manner of death.


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