Wang Guangmei, 85, Dies; Former First Lady of China

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Wang Guangmei, the widow of President Liu Shaoqi and a powerful figure in China before she was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution, died Friday in Beijing. She was 85.

Her death was confirmed by a family member.

Ms. Wang was once widely known in China as its beautiful, articulate, sophisticated first lady.

Liu Shaoqi was president from 1959 to 1967, when he became one of the first high-level officials to be denounced as a “capitalist roader” and purged by Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

Mr. Liu died in prison in 1969, after being beaten and tortured. Ms. Wang was also arrested and accused of being an American spy.

In some of the uglier scenes of the decade-long Cultural Revolution, which began in 1966, she was publicly humiliated at mass rallies by a group of Red Guards who forced her to wear a necklace of Ping-Pong balls.

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