Yang Shangkun was born in Shuangjiang, Sichuan, Qing China in 1907, and he joined the Communist Youth League of China in 1925, the Communist Party of China in 1926, and the "28 Bolsheviks". Yang studied at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University in the Soviet Union, and the Comintern sent him back to China to help organize the communist movement there. Yang was one of the few 28 Bolsheviks to support Mao Zedong, and he served as a military commissar during the Chinese Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War. He was a senior CCP Central Committee official from 1956 to 1966, and he was purged during the Cultural Revolution for his alliance with Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. He remained in prison until Mao's death in 1976, and he was appointed to the Politburo in 1982. In 1988, he was appointed to succeed Li Xiannian as President of China, and Yang and Zhao Ziyang initially supported the students who took part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. However, he later denounced the demonstrations as "anarchy" and assisted in suppressing them. He left office in 1993, and died in 1998.