Lin Biao or Lin Piao (both: lĭn byou) [key], 1908–71, Chinese Communist general and political leader. Lin was trained at Whampoa Academy, and during the Northern Expedition he rose to company commander in the Kuomintang army. After the Kuomintang-Communist split in 1927, he became one of Zhu De's leading military aides. His skill as a tactician earned him the command of a Red Army corps, and after the long march, he headed the Red Academy at Yan'an. In 1947–48 he commanded the Communist military offensive in the northeast against Chiang Kai-shek. Lin was appointed defense minister of the people's republic in 1959. In 1966 he displaced Liu Shaoqi as the second-ranking member of the Chinese Communist party, a position that made him Mao Zedong's heir apparent. A supporter of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), Lin mysteriously died in an airplane crash in Mongolia (1971). His death, however, was not officially disclosed until 1972, when the Chinese press also reported on his alleged attempt to overthrow the government shortly before the crash.
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