Yang Kaihui (1901-1930) was the second wife of Mao Zedong, the mother of three of his children and an active Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cadre. She was born in Hunan province, the daughter of Yang Changji, one of Mao’s favourite teachers. In late 1918 Yang and Mao shared a house in Beijing, where they discovered a mutual attraction. Yang shared Mao’s political values and took up membership of the CCP in 1922. Shortly after this Yang relocated to Shaoshan, where she worked with local peasants both as a political activist and a teacher of literacy. Her marriage to Mao ended in 1927 after he took up with another woman. In November 1930 Yang was captured by a Guomindang-aligned warlord. After days of interrogation and torture, she was executed in front of her infant son. Despite their estrangement Mao Zedong mourned Yang in poetry, while party propaganda hailed her as a revolutionary martyr.
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