25/1/81: Jiang Qing sentenced to death

On 25 January 1981, Jiang Qing (b. 1914), the fourth wife and widow of Chinese leader Mao Zedong, was sentenced to death for her “counter-revolutionary crimes” during the Cultural Revolution.

Originally an actress in Communist theater and film, she married Mao in 1939. In 1966, Mao made her the first deputy head of the Cultural Revolution and gave her far-reaching powers over China's intellectual and cultural life.

But after her husband’s death in 1976, Jiang (aka "Madame Mao") and three other radicals who had come to power in the revolution were singled out as the “Gang of Four.” She was arrested and in 1977 expelled from the Communist Party. Three years later, in 1980, the Gang of Four were put on trial and two of its members were sentenced to death.

pic: BBC / AFP

On January 25, 1983, exactly two years after she was condemned, the Chinese government commuted her sentence to life imprisonment. In 1991, she died in prison of an apparent suicide.

Text and info adapted from history.com

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