Xi pays tribute to marshals of China’s Communist revolution – except one

But insider says ‘counter-revolutionary’ Lin Biao was unlikely to make president’s list of military heroes in era of loyalty above all else

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 10:00pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 10:02pm

When President Xi Jinping paid tribute to Communist revolutionary marshals at an event marking the 90th anniversary of the PLA on Tuesday, he skipped a key name – Lin Biao.

Lin, who played a pivotal role in toppling the Kuomintang regime during the civil war in 1949, had been heir apparent to late chairman Mao Zedong before their relations soured in the early 1970s.

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The Chinese government now says Lin led a counter-revolutionary and anti-Communist clique. One Beijing insider said it was no surprise that his name was passed over given that loyalty was the most important attribute for cadres under Xi.

The president began his speech with praise for the militarisation of the Communist Party and the contribution of the People’s Liberation Army in defeating the Kuomintang.

“In this glorious and solemn moment, let us cherish the memory of the revolutionary and military veterans who set up and cultivated the people’s army, such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De and Deng Xiaoping,” Xi told senior officials at the Great Hall of the People.

Xi listed all of the marshals who led the Communist revolution except one of the 10 – Lin.

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As commander of the PLA Northeastern Field Army, Lin led his soldiers to victory in the Liaoshen and Pingjin campaigns against Chiang Kai-shek’s troops, two of three battles in 1948 and 1949 that were turning points for the Communists in the civil war.

Lin and the nine other marshals were honoured in 1955, and he was ranked No 3 among them. He supported Mao at the start of the Cultural Revolution and was named Mao’s successor.

But in September 1971, Lin was killed in a plane crash in Mongolia. The official story is that he had betrayed Mao and was attempting to flee to the USSR with his wife and son. Another version is that he wanted to leave because he feared his deteriorating relationship with party leaders would lead to his downfall.

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The source close to the government in Beijing said that given Lin had been labelled a traitor by the party, he was not surprised Xi didn’t name him in his speech. He added that at a meeting in the capital last week, Xi warned some 400 provincial and ministerial level officials that anyone who failed to toe the party line or resisted party decisions would face severe punishment regardless of their ranking, achievements or past honours.

Xi – with the help of top graft-buster Wang Qishan – has brought down more than 150 top officials in an anti-corruption drive since he took office five years ago. Most recently, Sun Zhengcai was removed as Chongqing party boss and placed under investigation.