Mao Zedong's chief bodyguard dies aged 99: report

BEIJING - The chief bodyguard of Communist China's founding father Mao Zedong and a key figure in the ousting of the Gang of the Four died Friday aged 99, state media reported.

Wang Dongxing, born in January 1916, passed away in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement from the headquarters of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The statement praised him as "an excellent CPC member, time-tested loyal communist fighter and proletarian revolutionist", it said.

Wang was head of Mao's personal bodyguard, the 8341 Special Regiment, for decades and his chief of staff for several years.

"I don't trust other people. I'm used to Dongxing being by my side," Mao once said about Wang, the Southern Weekly newspaper said Friday.

But in October 1976, less than one month after his mentor's death, Wang played a leading role in the coup d'etat against the Gang of Four, the close allies of Mao who were instrumental in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, including his widow Jiang Qing.

Wang was promoted to vice-chairman of the party the following year but was forced to resign in 1980 over issues including the evaluation of Mao, the rehabilitation of persecuted officials, and then leader Deng Xiaoping's opening and reform policy.