THE CLOSEST COMRADE: Chairman Mao Zedongs closest comrade in arms and hand-picked successor,Lin Biao,dropped from view in September 1971 amid the radical turmoil known as the Cultural Revolution. Turns out he had died. Lins death remains shrouded in mystery. The official version said he died in a plane crash in Mongolia attempting to flee to the Soviet Union after plotting to assassinate Mao. Othera say Mao supporters did Lin in first
PURGED REFORMER: At the height of the student-led democracy movement in 1989,party chief Zhao Ziyang went to Tiananmen Square on May 19 and appealed to student hunger-strikers to go home. The next day,the government declared martial law and Zhao disappeared. After the June 3-4 military crackdown,speculation was rife that Zhao had been stripped of power. His fate became known over a month later,when the party fired him.
THE PARAMOUNT LEADER: After authorizing the military crackdown that ended the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement with untold deaths,paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was shown on television congratulating martial law troops on June 9. Then he stayed out of the public eye for over 3 months. His disappearance triggered reports he was ill or near death. He resurfaced in September looking tan and healthy
THE ALLY: Vice Premier Huang Ju lectured Chinese bankers in early 2006 on the importance of government control over state banks. Then he dropped from sight. Nearly two months passed before a Chinese official said vaguely Huang had been unwell and was convalescing in a hospital. Media were banned from reporting on his condition. The official announcement of his death gave no cause,though reports say he had pancreatic cancer
THE HARDLINER: When Premier Li Peng suddenly cancelled a meeting with the Philippine president in 1993,the excuse the government gave: he had a cold. Over the next four months,Li made only two public appearances. At one of them,he confessed to a minor heart condition. When he resurfaced in August,it was on the front page of newspapers,standing in swim trunks. Li outlasted his rivals,clinging to power until 2003.