The AP reports that Hua Guofeng passed away on Wednesday at age 87:
Hua Guofeng, who briefly ruled China as communist founder Mao Zedong’s successor but was pushed aside as a prelude to reforms that launched an economic boom, died Wednesday at the age of 87, state-run media reported.
State broadcaster CCTV said that Hua died of an unspecified illness.
He took power after Mao’s death in September 1976, but saw his powers erode until Deng Xiaoping took control two years later. Hua was forced out as Communist Party chairman in 1981 and slipped into obscurity.