Yan Hongyan’s Death: Zhou Enlai’s Speech Leaves Veteran Communist Party Cadres Desperate -Zhou Enlai’s qualifying speech on the founding general Yan Hongyan

Yan Hongyan was one of the founders of the revolutionary base in northern Shaanxi. Yan Hongyan was the only Founding General to be persecuted to death during the Cultural Revolution, and the first Provincial Party Committee First Secretary to die unnaturally during the Cultural Revolution. A week after Yan Hongyan’s death, on January 14, 1967, Zhou Enlai presided over a meeting of the secretaries of the Communist Party’s regional and provincial committees, at which Zhou used Yan Hongyan’s death as an example to educate the secretaries of the regions and provinces.

[then analyze a Yunnan, originally estimated that Yunnan is a little better than Sichuan, the whole Yunnan is not holding high the great red flag of Mao Zedong Thought, how about Tibet? Tibet is dominated by the military, so it may be better. Yunnan recently had an incident, trying to avoid it is not possible, it is because Yunnan is dissatisfied with Li Jingquan’s leadership, but is it standing in the right direction to struggle? Yan Hongyan from the position, can not come to the right conclusion, the three provinces backwardness the same, but Sichuan stubborn resistance, engage in white terror, crackdown on the masses, because some people rose up in rebellion, Sichuan’s cover has not been lifted.

Yan is a belly full of discontent, the masses rose up and committed suicide by rebelling against the party. No matter how much merit you have in the past, the past off are past, but the top big off can not pass. Bo Yibo not pulled out, but there are people talking about knocking him down. Yan does not go this way, there may be people who think he is a comrade, now can not say so come. His family …… his father smokes big cigarettes, his wife is a feudal woman, she does not consult the President, she does not read Chairman Mao’s book, after the recent events, Comrade Guo Chao came to reflect that Gu Mu has a report is wrong, to Comrade Lin Biao report does not read, read the quotations are talking about, do not consult the masses, afraid of the masses are afraid to death, and then put themselves in The position of the struggle, which is also not democratic at all, the individual said. The military party committee should also think about which point should consult the chairman, which point does not meet the requirements of the masses, which point does not treat colleagues as equals. The first ping pong tournament, Yan only criticized Li Jingquan, not criticize themselves, he and Gao Gang is not necessarily the same, he is different from Gao Gang to mark, on not consult the President, and not self-criticism, is bound to go to the anti-party road, he gave his father opium cigarettes to eat, the father of revolutionary cadres, why give opium cigarettes to eat? After the anti-Gao Gang, Yan carried the burden, usually only focus on life, not the class struggle, the ideological and historical roots of so, is bound to go to the end of the road, the Red Guards are not welcome, is to prevent is to block, after the October work conference, this is to rely on conservative pressure leftists, do not believe in the rebellion does not support, after October, the provincial party committee meeting in Xishan, to Zhou Xing to meet the masses, the masses called Zhou Xing roll back, Yan Hongyan roll out, Yan did not dare to come out. In the military zone exposed to the masses, rushed to the People’s Committee, Zhao Jianmin pulled out, one said the masses are counter-revolutionary, two said Yan Hongyan go to do not know, he did not sue the masses, the masses are annoyed, he was pressed in the car parade for three or four hours, living in a hospital as a bomb shelter, threatening cadres heard sobbing and not eat dinner.

…… Zhao Jianmin completely distorted the facts and take the blame. Called Yan Hongyan out to meet the masses, Chen Boda called, Yan listened and asked Zhou Xing what to do? Zhou said, sleep! Let’s talk about it tomorrow. We are here in a hurry like a star, they are not responsible, so powerful, eating sleeping pills dozens of tablets after the suicide, such a big thing, with this attitude, not only to suppress the masses, but to confront Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line, resistance to the central leadership, self-extinction from the party and the people.

…… Yan’s chaos, some people blame the Red Guards, must investigate the truth, Wangfujing’s leaflet said that Yan was murdered, Zhao was seriously injured, which is obviously directed by someone. Yan is his own shameful solution. The front of the struggle can not point to the military zone, the military zone can not be a bomb shelter, into the military zone responsibility in the provincial party committee, the central government called for the withdrawal of more grasp the revolution, promote production, the contradiction is not turned over, the central ministries and provincial committees, are not over the hurdle, happy to go back, ready to pass the hurdle, whether it can pass, decided on myself. I believe that the vast majority of people can pass this hurdle, Mr. Lin asked me to do ideological work, I will talk about these.

(From “Premier Zhou’s speech at the reception of the secretaries of the regional and provincial committees,” March 21, 1967, Wuhan Institute of Water Resources and Electricity Red Three Division reprint, more reprints of this speech, the content is basically the same, the versions seen only a few places have been added or deleted.

In Zhou Enlai’s speech, on the issue of Yan Hongyan’s death mainly mentioned the following points.

First, the death of Yan Hongyan was characterized as a confrontation with Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line, a resistance to the leadership of the Central Committee, and a self-extinction from the Party and the people. Zhou Enlai also gave reasons, first, his ideological and historical roots, with an opium-smoking father and a wife who was a feudal woman, especially this wife did not pay attention to reading Chairman Mao’s books; second, the Red Guard rebels did not support, taking an attitude of prevention and blocking; therefore, his death was a rebellion against the Party.

Secondly, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, some old cadres in the Party still held certain objections to the frenzied development of the Cultural Revolution, as exemplified by the so-called “February Backlash” in February 1967, and therefore in this speech, Zhou said to the “rumors” circulating at that time, namely In this speech, Zhou clarified the “rumor” circulating at that time that Yan Hongyan’s death was “blamed” on the Red Guards, and used the word “shameful” to describe Yan Hongyan’s behavior, and further pointed out that someone was behind the spreading of such “rumors. The The implication is self-explanatory: the target is the old revolutionaries who are in trouble to protect themselves.

Finally, and most importantly, I would like to remind all the frontier officials here to think about how they can pass this hurdle. Do not take Yan Hongyan as an example, people want to fight to others to fight, or else also to end up with Yan Hongyan the same fate. Unfortunately, these frontier officials no matter what to do, the fight is still being fought, the future is not easy, or a number of people lost their lives.

Yan Hongyan’s death touched the old cadres at that time, originally thought that such a movement, and then deeper development is not always to the extent that these revolutionary decades of old cadres to pay the price of life, not to mention that according to Chen Pi Xian’s memoirs Yan Hongyan is one of the provincial party secretaries Mao Zedong listed to protect. On December 29, Chairman Mao said to him, “After the New Year, you should go to several provinces and cities to see how the campaign is going. The question is still the same: ‘Is it bad or good’? The public has a point, the public has a point, you go and see for yourself. Several provincial and municipal party committee first secretary to protect ah, Shanghai’s Chen Pi Xian, Cao Diqiu, Yunnan’s Yan Hongyan, Jiangsu’s Jiang Weiqing …… everything that can be protected. To save people in the fire ah! You go on behalf of the Central Committee, the speech will be more effective.” (Chairman Mao himself drew up a list of about one or two dozen people.) And at this time, Zhou’s speech completely made them desperate. The death of Yan Hongyan was one of the reasons why the “February Backlash”, in which several old marshals made a scene in Huairen Hall, happened soon after this. Forty years of old revolutionaries have ended up with broken families and scattered wives and families.” (According to another version of Tan Zhenlin, there is a sentence in the middle “Yan Hongyan has what crime, all to the death. Forty-year old revolutionary ……”)

An unprecedented phenomenon in the Cultural Revolution was that the speeches of leaders were often recorded in full and then circulated and reprinted all over the country, no matter how colloquial the speech was. This was perhaps out of the caution of the people at that time, fearing that they would be said to have been taken out of context and labeled as counter-revolutionary. It is also this phenomenon that allows people nowadays to recognize the true nature of some people. Zhou Enlai has been called “beloved Premier Zhou” for many years, and the term “Premier” has been monopolized by him alone for decades. Even today, people who are old enough to mention “Premier” still refer to him. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, people always say how much “Premier” endured humiliation during the Cultural Revolution, how many people he protected and how much he suffered, but these speeches he made on various occasions that have been handed down to us tell us that this is not the truth, such as this one, even when he treated an old comrade who had been working with him for many years who had already died. He did not leave a trace of virtue behind. In his “March 15 speech” on Sichuan (1968), he spared no effort to promote the Cultural Revolution in Sichuan, directing his spear at Li Jingquan, the former provincial party secretary of Sichuan. There are many more such speeches by Zhou Enlai, which would never have been included in his collected works, but they are some of the testimonials that can be used to study what Zhou Enlai did in the Cultural Revolution, and they can also be an important resource for studying the history of the Cultural Revolution.

(Note: This is an old article from 2015)