Wang Li (politician)

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Wang Li (Chinese: 王力; August 11, 1922 – October 21, 1996), born Wang Guangbao (Chinese: 王光賓) was a Chinese Communist propagandist and prominent member of the Cultural Revolution Group, in charge of overseeing the Cultural Revolution movement of Mao Zedong. Despite being one of the leading proponents of the Cultural Revolution, Wang became one of its victims. He was purged in 1967 after the Wuhan Incident for supporting one revolutionary group in the city over another group, and was sent to prison. He was released in 1982, but was later expelled from the Communist Party for his role in the Cultural Revolution.


Wang was originally from Huai'an, Jiangsu province. In October 1935, he joined the Communist Youth League. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1939 on the recommendation of Gu Mu. He joined the military expedition force in northeastern China, then began working for Masses Daily (大众日报), the party mouthpiece in Shandong province, as a reporter, then he became lead editor. In 1943, he became the editor-in-chief of the Communist revolutionary agitation periodical Struggle (斗争生活), then he authored a book Sunny Skies under the pseudonym Wang Li, under which he became known. During the Chinese civil war, he worked as a member of the land reform team in the Bohai Sea region of Shandong, working on training Communist land reform officials. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Wang worked as a propaganda official in Shandong province.

In 1953, under orders from the authorities, Wang became a propaganda advisor to the Communist Party of Vietnam. He returned to China in October 1955, when he joined the party's commission on international activities. In 1958 he began working for the flagship Communist Party periodical Red Flag. In 1963, he began serving as deputy head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China. During the Sino-Soviet split, Wang was one of the lead authors of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, for which he received attention from Mao. In 1964 he began attending meetings of the Politburo Standing Committee and was the lead drafter of key party documents.

Wang was known to be the lead drafter of the "May 16 Notification", which marked the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. On January 8, 1967, Wang was named head of the party propaganda leading group, effectively replacing the Propaganda Department, which was disbanded. Wang gained prominence during the early stages of the Cultural Revolution as a major figure of the Cultural Revolution Group. However, he was arrested by Chen Zaidao during the Wuhan Incident in July 1967 and was purged for "ultra-leftism" shortly afterwards. In August 1967, Mao declared, "Wang Li, Guan Feng and Qi Benyu are bad people, they are cockroaches, they must be arrested immediately." He was then placed in solitary confinement. In January 1968 he was sent to Qincheng Prison. He was never prosecuted for any crimes, and was released in 1982. In 1983, he was expelled from the Communist Party of China, despite not having playing any political role following his release. He lived in Beijing for the rest of his life. In May 1996, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died at Beijing Tumour Hospital on October 21, 1996.


  • Wang Li; Michael Schoenhals, ed. An insider's account of the Cultural Revolution: Wang Li's memoirs. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1994. p. 96
  • Memoirs of Wang Li, published in Chinese Law and Government, vol. 27, no. 6.