Mao’s Death

When Mao died on September 9, 1976, he passed over the disgraced Deng Xiaoping to make Hua Guofeng his successor. Hua moved quickly against the Gang of Four, including Jiang Qing, but proved no match for the resilience and connections of Deng Xiaoping. Deng slowly consolidated support in the party and army for his cause, positioning himself to take the helm of China’s ship of state in 1978.

Deng was closely involved with the effort to rewrite Mao’s legacy. While confirming Mao’s role as a savior of the Chinese nation, the party line now declared that Mao was only 70% correct, and acknowledged many small errors of his era. Deng made several important liberal moves of his own, issuing pardons for millions of political criminals and famously traveling to the United States to meet with President Jimmy Carter and attend the rodeo.

Deng Xiaoping in Texas