The trial of the "gang of four" headed by Mao Tse-tung's widow Jiang Qing is reported to be imminent. The four members of the gang, all powerful during the 10 years of the so-called Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), are said to have been interrogated at length by Politburo member Peng Zhen, chairman of the legal commission of the National People's Congress, and himself one of the most prominent victims of the gang's misrule.
Three members of the gang -- Madame Mao, Zhang Chunqiao, and Wang Hongwen -- are said to have showed themselves completely unrepentant, answering in response to nearly every accusation that they had acted on the direct orders of Chairman Mao. The fourth, Yao Wenyuan, is said to have acknowledged his errors.
The party leadership's determination to proceed with the trial of the "gang of four" means they are prepared for the further tarnishing of the late Chairman Mao's image that is bound to result. Mao already has been de-deified and accused of errors during the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward ( 1958-59). But Deputy Premier Deng Xiaoping has said that he is not a Khrushchev , and it seems unlikely that anyone in the present Chinese leadership will make as sweeping a denunciation of Mao as Khrushchev did of Stalin. Madam Mao eats and sleeps well in prison, Mr. Deng told the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci recently. A reliable source says she is given an allowance of 40 yuan (about $ 27) per month for food. That is more than the monthly wages of many shop clerks and other unskilled workers. She recently asked for and was given a daily bottle of milk in addition to the 40 yuan's worth of food.