Peking has purged a seemingly secure provincial party chief in central China and suddenly toughened a national political shakeup that until now had treated gently leaders who pledged allegiance to new Communist Party Chairman Hua Kuo-Feng.
The removal of Anhwei Province party leader Sung Pei-Chang, revealed in a provincial radio broadcast monitored here, marks the first time since the purge of a powerful Shanghai-based clique in October that a provincial-level leader has been personally rebuked in the official Chinese media. Since the shakeup of 12 provincial-level leaders in October, Peking had refrained from personal attacks that might reopen the local factional fighting Hua had sought to discourage.
But since Sung publicly praised "wise leader Chairman Hua" only a month ago, the sudden attack on him must give pause to other top leaders who made public efforts to shift with the political winds. It leaves open the possibility that a political campaign that seemed to be just mopping up after October's Great Purge of Mao Tse-Tung's widow and her supporters may be prolonged by attacks on leaders who didn't shift with the party line fast enough.
Particularly significant is Peking's choice of a man named Wan Li as Sung's replacement. Wan was introduced to the surviving members of the Anhwei leadership June 23. The radio broadcast said, Wan is a former railways minister known for his insistence on discipline and for his close friendship with former Vice Premier Teng Hsiao-Ping. Since February, Wan has been vice president of the Science Academy.
Hua, Vice Chairman Yeh Chien-Ying and "other leading comrades of the central authorities," who are officially credited with the decision to appoint Wan in Anhwei, no longer seem willing to forgive leaders like Sung, who vigorously supported the movement to criticize Teng when that was the party line last year.
Some of the 12 remaining members of the ruling Politburo were not much faster than Sung in ceasing attacks on Teng in October, and the Anhwei events suggest that their positions may be in danger.
The Anhwei broadcast said that for the past eight months "The masses in the province have not been given free rein" because of "mistakes by the former principal leading person of the Provincial Party Committee," who can be no one but Sung. In the campaign last year against Teng's pragmatic economic policies, Sung "ran counter to the instructions of Chairman Mao and the Party Central Committee and went his own way." After October's purge he "clamped down the lid and covered up his mistakes," the broadcast said.
Anhwei radio was at first noticeably reticent to criticize Mao's widow, Chiang Ching, and her "Gang of Four" after they were purged in October. As late as Nov. 13, the provincial radio agrued that the "Gang's" campaign against Teng was "initiated and led by the great leader Chairman Mao himself and (is) most timely." Other provinces had already stopped mentioning the campaing.
But when the leaderships of several provinces - mostly those with serious factional fighting - were reorganized early this year and Anhwei was left untouched, analysts began to suggest that Sung might be spared. In a Jan. 2 speech, Sung rallied around Hua as "the reliable man of the helm of the ship of the revolutionary cause" and said, "The people throughout the province are fighting a people's war to bury completely the Gang of Four."
A new series of shakeups in the past two weeks bear the unmistakable imprint of such Veteran Party leaders as Teng, who were forced into temporarily retirement during the Cultural Revolution of the late 1960s. The purges have removed two army officers, Sung and Hsien Heng-han of Kansu Province, who rose to power during that same Cultural Revolution.
The announcement of Kansu's shakeup like Anhwei's, referred to "clamping down the lid and suppressing the masses," although no individual was blamed in Liaoning Province, where the anti-Teng campaign was extremely active last year. A front-page People's Daily article said last week that political purges were being accelerated and that one criticism meeting had been attended by 30,000 people and had lasted seven days.
The attack on Sung and other former critics of Teng may have been stimulated by local problems and thus may lead to no other top-level purges.