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Qi Benyu

Qi Benyu
Chinese 戚本禹

Qi Benyu (born 1931) is a Chinese Communist theorist and propagandist, mainly active during the Cultural Revolution. Qi was member of the ultra-left Cultural Revolution Group, Chair of the Department of Petitions and Vice-Chairman of the General Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Qi also acted as Head of the History Department of the communist theory journal Red Flag. In 1968 he was arrested, stripped of all his positions, and sent to prison.


  • Life 1
    • Youth 1.1
    • Political ascendancy 1.2
  • Wang-Guan-Qi-Affair 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4



Born in Weihai, Shandong Province, Qi Benyu attended the Central School of the Communist Youth League of China and entered the Communist Party of China in the early 1950s when still being a student. Upon graduation he became assistant to Tian Jiaying, the secretary of Mao Zedong. In 1963 he wrote an article on Li Xiucheng, which for the first time gave him Mao's approval for his radical approach. He was allowed to enter the Board of Editors of the Red Flag. There, on 8 December 1965, following Yao Wenyuan's "Criticism of Hai Rui Dismissed from Office", he published the article "Study History for the Revolution", in which he criticised the most famous Historians of the time by denouncing their Historism as Capitalist. The article was mainly aimed at Jian Bozan but did not name him.

Mao very much appreciated the article, praising the author: "Who are today's Authorities? It's Yao Wenyuan, Qi Benyu, Yin Da... People of low age, low knowledge, sturdy opinions and stable political experiences".[1] Qi thereupon followed with Articles attacking Wu Han and again Jian Bozan, this time by name. Both Articles were also published in the Peoples Daily and gave Qi his reputation as a radical theorist.

Political ascendancy

Qi Benyu's sudden rise in the hierarchy of the Communist Party began Mid 1966 with the proclamation of the Cultural Revolution. In May he was appointed member of the Central Cultural Revolution Small Group and only shortly afterwards Vice-Chairman of the General Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and Acting Director of the General Bureau. In the Red Flag he rose to Vice Editor in Chief. Also still in 1966 he became secretary of Mao and his wife Jiang Qing. With the Articles and Speeches written by him he played a large role in the campaigns against Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and the old Establishment of the Party as well as in heating up the atmosphere during the Cultural Revolution.

His arguably most important Article during this time was Patriotism or National Betrayal? --On the Reactionary Film Inside Story of the Ching Court [2] published on March 30, 1967 in the Red Flag. Highly appraised by Mao, the article also appeared in the Peoples Daily and initiated a new wave of campaigns against Liu Shaoqi, to whom the article refers to as "the biggest capitalist roader in the Party" and "China's Khrushchev".[3]

Qi now began to directly intervene in politics by inciting Red Guards to forcefully bring Peng Dehuai back from Sichuan and to enter the Governmental District of Beijing, Zhongnanhai, to attack Liu, Deng, Zhu De und Tao Zhu.


From 1967 on Qi, together with Wang Li, Guan Feng and other members of the Cultural Revolution Group, started to accelerate Mao's plans for implementing the Cultural Revolution in the Army too, and where calling for the peoples to find out the "few Capitalist Roaders" within the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). The same Radicalisation was to be achieved in Foreign Policy, which culminated in the attack on the British Embassy in Beijing on August 22. For Mao now saw himself confronted with growing opposition inside the Party and chaotic turbulences in his most important power base, the army, he decided to let down the so-called „Three Small“, Wang, Guan und Qi. Qi was arrested on January 13, 1968 and lost all positions in- and outside the party. All three of them were brought to the notorious Qincheng Prison.

Jiang Qing was disclosing the main charge in a speech in front of officers of the PLA: The „Wang-Guan-Qi-Anti-Party-Clique“ would have been working secretly for Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Tao Zhu since the beginning of the Cultural Revolution. Though staying in prison all the time, it was only on July 14, 1980 that Qi was officially arrested by the Beijing Police. On November 2, 1983 the Intermediate Peoples Court Beijing sentenced him to 18 years in prison on terms of being a member of the counterrevolutionary clique of Lin Biao and Jiang Qing as well as 'counterrevolutionary propaganda', 'wrong accusations' and 'inciting of the masses' (da-za-qiang). Having by then already spent 15 years in prison, he was discharged after 3 more years in 1986.


  1. ^ "现在的权威是谁?是姚文元、戚本禹、尹达......要年纪小的、学问少的、立场稳的、有政治经验的坚定的人来接班。", Cited according to Ding Shu: 从“史学革命”到“挖祖坟”, online: PDF, p. 3
  2. ^ Full Article in English translation on
  3. ^ Guo Jian, Yongyi Song, Yuan Zhou (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, - Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2006, p. 229 (eng)

External links

  • 王力关锋戚本禹:“文革”三大干将的人生结局
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