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Yang Kaihui

Y ng K ihu (; courtesy name: Y nj n (); November 6, 1901 – November 14, 1930), who was the second wife of Mao Zedong from 1920 to 1930, was born in a small village named Bancang, in Changsha, Hunan Province, on November 6, 1901. She had three children with Mao Zedong, named Mao Anying, Mao Anqing, and Mao Anlong. Her father was Yang Changji, the header of the Hunan First Normal School and one of Mao s favorite teachers.


Early life

Yang Kaihui was intelligent and had a progressive upbringing. When she was seven years old, Yang was allowed to attend the forty-primary school of Changsha, which made an exception at that time. When her father returned from the Europe in 1913, Yang Kaihui s whole family settled in Changsha. In the following year, Yang met her lifelong husband Mao Zedong. At that time, the young Yang Kaihui always heard her parents praises to Mao Zedong, but just regarded him as her elder brother.

When Yang Kaihui was 17 years old, Yang met Mao in Beijing. Then they often walked along the moat outside the Forbidden City and wandered in the North Sea Park. After Mao returned to Hunan, they communicated with each other using the salutations Run and Xia , which refer to Mao and Yang respectively. When Mao reached to Beijing again in the same year, Mao stayed in Yang s home. With the help of Mao Zedong, Yang Kaihui read a lot of progressing publications such as New Youth and New Wave , which broadened her horizons. As the contacts between Mao and Yang Kaihui became more and more, they finally fell in love with each other deeply.

In 1920, Yang Changji passed away due to illness. Yang Kaihui and her mother sent his coffin to Changsha. With the help of Li Shuyi father, Yang Kaihui entered into Xiangfu Girls School. In August that year, Mao established the Cultural Book Institute in Changsha. Yang Kaihui met Mao there and participated in the institute.

Revolution experience

Yang joined the Chinese Socialism Youth League in the second half year of 1920 as one of the first members of Hunan. She married Mao Zedong in that winter, without any wedding ceremony or other celebrations. Yang joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the beginning of 1922. In April 1923, Mao went to Communist Party of China Central Committee in Shanghai and worked as the Organization Department Minister of CPC Central Committee. In the following year, Yang Kaihui, together with her two children, Mao Anying and Mao Anqing, joined her husband in Shanghai and organized an evening school at a cotton mill. In 1925, accompanied by Mao, Yang Kaihui went to Shaoshan to organize peasant movements, while caring for her husband and educating their children. At the same time, she continued to teach peasant evening schools and contracted with other comrades. In the beginning of 1927, Mao inspected the peasant movement in Hunan. Yang Kaihui sorted through the large amount of investigation materials and neatly copied them down. In March of the same year, Mao s report on peasant movement in Hunan was published, which included Yang Kaihui s effort. In this period, Yang organized many movements among peasants, labor, women, and students.

After the National Revolution failed, she returned to Bancang alone to organize underground revolutions and lead fights against the KMT in Changsha, Pingjiang, and boundaries of Xiangyin. Amid the great difficulties and dangers, Yang wrote many letters to her cousin Yang Kaiming, asking him to take good care of her children and mother if she met a sudden death. Because of the great distance and spare communication with Mao over the next three years, Yang often only saw news about Mao in the KMT s newspapers and worried greatly about his safety.


In October 1930, the local Kuomintang warlord He Jian captured Yang Kaihui and her son Mao Anying. Her captors wanted her to renounce Mao and the CPC publicly. However, she refused to do so. Even under torture, she is said to have told her captors that "You could kill me as you like, you would never get anything from my mouth," "Chopping off the head is like the passing of wind, death could frighten cowards, rather than our Communists," "Even if the seas run dry and the rocks crumble, I would never break off relations with Mao Zedong," and "I prefer to die for the success of Mao's revolution career." On November 14, 1930, Yang was executed in Changsha, when she was only 29 years old. Her son, Mao Anying, who died twenty years later in the Korean War, was forced to watch his mother being shot.


Yang wrote poems to express her loneliness and her longing for Mao. One of them, " " ("Occasional Feeling"), was written in October 1928, two years before her death, and discovered when her former residence was being repaired about 50 years later:

Original Chinese Pinyin English Translation
" Ti n y n q s f ng, n ng h n r j g . Ni n zi yu n x ng r n, p ng b ' n q f . Z s k f u qu n? H n y sh f u b i? G mi n shu i h , sh f u y q k ? Sh x n b k t ng, y y n w r n y . M j w shu ng h f i, f i q ji n zi r n. Z r n b y u d w ng ch ng ji n, w y sh . It is cloudy and very windy; the severe coldness invades my body. Miss you in the long distance; my feeling goes up and down suddenly. Is the illness on your feet cured? Are clothes defending against coldness enough? Sleep alone without any cares and loves; maybe I am also arduous and have tasted too many hardships. No letters could reach to you and nobody could be asked. Regret that I have no wings, or I could fly to you. Couldn t see you, the time that I take companion with sadness and depression would never come to an end.



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