Peng Zhen

Peng Zhen (pronounced [pʰə̌ŋ ʈʂə́n]; October 12, 1902 – April 26, 1997) was a leading member of the Communist Party of China. He led the party organization in Beijing following the victory of the Communists in the Chinese Civil War in 1949, but was purged during the Cultural Revolution for opposing Mao's views on the role of literature in relation to the state. He was rehabilitated under Deng Xiaoping in 1982 along with other 'wrongly accused' officials, and became the inaugural head of the CPC Central Political and Legislative Committee.

Peng Zhen
Peng Zhen2.jpg
4th Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
In office
June 18, 1983 – April 27, 1988
Preceded byYe Jianying
Succeeded byWan Li
1st Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission
In office
March 1980 – May 1983
Succeeded byChen Pixian
First Secretary of the Beijing Committee of the Communist Party of China
In office
December 13, 1948 – May 1966
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byLi Xuefeng
Personal details
Born(1902-10-12)October 12, 1902
Houma, Shanxi, China
DiedApril 26, 1997(1997-04-26) (aged 94)
Beijing, China
Political partyCommunist Party of China
Spouse(s)Zhang Jieqing
Peng Zhen


Born in Houma, Shanxi province, Peng was originally named Fu Maogong (傅懋恭). He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1923 as a founding member of the Shanxi Province CP. Arrested in 1929, he continued underground political activities while imprisoned. He was released from prison in 1935 and began organizing a resistance movement against the invading Japanese forces. Around the same time, he was appointed the Organization Department Director of the North Bureau of CPC. He also served on a number of positions as vice-president of the Central Party School and director of the CPC Policy Research Office. In 1945 he served in the history research committee and the organizing committee of the Communist Party's 7th National Congress.

In September 1945 Peng was sent by Mao Zedong to take up overall leadership of the Communists in Northeast China. He was accompanied by Lin Biao who was to assist Peng with directing military operations against the Nationalists. Peng decided that the Communists could hold the 3 big cities of the Northeast: Shenyang, Changchun and Harbin. When the Nationalists under the command of Du Yuming attacked in November 1945, the Communists were forced back. Peng was removed as Communist leader in the northeast after further failure by Lin Biao's forces in March 1946 led to the Communists retreat back to Harbin.[1]

Peng was a member of the CPC Central Committee starting from 1944 as well as member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee. He also held the positions of First Secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee, and Mayor of Beijing (1951). He was a member of the Politburo from 1956 to 1966.

Peng was appointed head of the Five Man Group in charge of preparing a "cultural revolution", but he fell out of favor with Mao Zedong in April 1966 when he attacked Mao's belief that all literature should support the state. He was accused of being an associate to Wu Han's counter-revolutionary clique and deposed at a May 1966 conference in what became the opening act of the Cultural Revolution. Lu Dingyi, Luo Ruiqing and Yang Shangkun were also deposed.

Peng survived the Cultural Revolution, and was eventually rehabilitated under Deng Xiaoping. He subsequently became Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, a post he already held from late 1950s in the capacity of leader of a Central Politics and Law Leading Group. Beginning in 1983, as Chairman of the Standing Committee of the Sixth National People's Congress, he sought to increase the NPC's power. Peng retired from his leading political positions in 1988.

Peng Zhen died on April 26, 1997, and was eulogized with high honours by the highest organs of the party and the state. His official obituary declared him a "great proletarian revolutionary, politician, and outstanding expert in the affairs of the state; unswerving Marxist, instrumental in laying the foundations of legal institution in our country, and excellent leader of the party and state." The obituary also curiously made mention of his support of Deng Xiaoping's 1992 "southern tour" which re-ignited economic reforms after relative stagnation following the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989.[2]

He was considered one of the Eight Immortals of the Communist Party of China.


  1. ^ Tanner, Harold M. (2012). "Big Army Groups, Standardisation, and Assaulting Fortified Positions: Chinese Ways of Warfare and the Transition from Guerilla to Conventional War in China's Northeast, 1945 - 1948". Journal of Chinese Military History. One (Two): 111–113.
  2. ^ "彭真同志逝世讣告".

External linksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Pitman B. Potter, From Leninist Discipline to Socialist Legalism: Peng Zhen on Law and Political Authority in the PRC, Stanford University Press; 1 edition (March 13, 2003), hardcover: 272 pages, ISBN 0804745005 ISBN 978-0804745000
Government offices
Preceded by
Nie Rongzhen
Mayor of Beijing
Succeeded by
Wu De
Assembly seats
New title Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Succeeded by
Liu Ningyi
Preceded by
Ji Pengfei
Secretary-General of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Succeeded by
Yang Shangkun
Preceded by
Ye Jianying
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Succeeded by
Wan Li
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chen Yun
Head of the Central Organization Department of the Communist Party of China
Acting from 1944–1945

Succeeded by
Rao Shushi
New title Secretary of the CPC Beijing Committee
Succeeded by
Li Xuefeng
Secretary of the CPC Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission
Succeeded by
Chen Pixian