Jiang Qing (or Chiang Ching or Jiang Ching) was for 38 years the wife of Mao Zedong, the leader of Communist China until his death in 1976. Also known as Madame Mao and the "white-boned demon", she was a member of the notorious Gang of Four. Although here in the annals of everything Mao is blamed for the excesses of Maoist China - in particular the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, for which dem bones labels Mao a madman and murderer - in China itself Jiang Qing is more often seen as the evil influence who, along with her three comrades, turned Mao aside from his glorious revolutionary path.
Jiang Qing was born in 1914 to a 60-year-old father and his most junior concubine; as the last daughter of the last concubine her position in the family was extremely lowly. She was abandoned by her parents at a young age - her mother was kicked out of the household and had to work as a prostitute to support herself - and Jiang Qing, or Yunhe as she was then called, had to find her own way in life.
Jiang Qing joined the Communist Party in 1933 and was arrested for this by Chiang Kai-Shek's forces; according to Anchee Min's fictionalized biography of her, Becoming Madame Mao, she denounced Communism in return for her freedom. As a young woman Jiang Qing worked as an opera actress in Shanghai and married three times; then in her early twenties she traveled to Yenan where Mao was gaining control of the Communist Army, and the two fell in love. Although for many years she was kept out of the spotlight by Mao and his cronies, she was eventually given a large role in the Cultural Revolution. At the height of her power she forbade the nation from watching anything else but her revolutionary operas. Many of these operas featured powerful women who looked to Mao as a god who would solve all their problems, probably much like Jiang Qing herself. After Mao died, however, Jiang Qing's power base eroded; she was arrested along with the rest of the Gang of Four and tried for her role in the Cultural Revolution. She was sentenced to life imprisonment and committed suicide in prison in 1991.
I was astonished to find an article online, published by the Revolutionary Worker, which extols Jiang Qing as a great revolutionary leader and martyr. She would no doubt have been thrilled to read this.
Check it out at www.rwor.org/a/china/chiang.htm