Liu Shaoqi, the highest-ranking Chinese Communist leader to fall victim to China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was posthumously rehabilitated in spring 1980. His rehabilitation was accompanied by the publication of new materials on his life and career, enabling us to fill in various lacunae and to attempt a more comprehensive assessment of his political import. If the vindication is successful among China's still somewhat skeptical masses, Liu may come to serve as a popular symbol of the folly of spontaneous mass participation in politics and the essential continuity of China's Marxist-Leninist tradition from the 1950s to the 1980s. To China's officialdom, Liu will represent the ultimate integrity of the Party apparatus, an avatar of the self-cultivated rectitude of the “clean official.”

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