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The widow of the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung has committed suicide, according to the latest issue of Time magazine.

Citing unnamed Beijing sources, the magazine said Mao's widow, Jiang Qing, 77, was believed to have hanged herself late last month.Jiang, who was also the ringleader of the Gang of Four, allegedly hanged herself at the suburban Bei-jing villa where she had been under virtual house arrest since her trial and conviction 10 years ago for helping to carry out the bloody Cultural Revolution, Time said.

Jiang, who was known to have throat cancer, may have wished to cut short her suffering, the magazine said, noting that her death comes at an awkward time for the Beijing government, which is concerned with the anniversary of the June 1989 suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.

Although Jiang had nothing to do with that event, Time magazine said, a public announcement of her death could conceivably have ignited a new wave of disturbances.