Jiang Qing or Chiang Ch'ing [key], 1914–91, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Jinhai or Li Shumeng, she was later known as Li Yunhe and Li He and changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist party the same year. In 1939, she married Mao Zedong and thereafter remained in the background of Chinese Communist affairs until the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Appointed deputy director (1966) of the Cultural Revolution, she incited radical youths against senior party and government officials, and replaced nearly all earlier works of art with revolutionary Maoist works. A member of the politburo (1969–76), she was one of the most powerful political figures during Mao's last years. For her role in the Cultural Revolution she was arrested (Oct., 1976) by Hua Guofeng, Mao's successor, and sentenced to die (later commuted to life imprisonment). Her death was reported as a suicide by the Chinese government.
See R. Witke, Comrade Chiang Ch'ing (1977) and R. Terrill, The White-boned Demon (1989).
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