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Born Jan. 1, 1814, in Huahsien, Kwangtung Province; died June 30, 1864, in Nanking. Organizer and chief leader of the Taiping rebellion of 1850–64 in China.
Hung, who was of peasant birth, worked for a time as a village teacher. In 1843 he founded the Society of God-Worshipers (Pai Shang-ti Hui). In 1845–46 he wrote several essays in which he advocated a Utopian system of “universal unity” and, in veiled form, called for the overthrow of China’s feudal Manchu rulers. In the summer of 1850, on Hung’s order, members of the society staged an armed uprising in the vicinity of Chint’ien in Kwangsi Province. Soon afterward Hung proclaimed the establishment of the Heavenly Kingdom of Eternal Peace and Prosperity (Taiping Tienkuo). In 1853, when Nanking was made the capital of the Taiping state and renamed T’ienching, Hung in effect gave up leadership of the rebellion and devoted himself chiefly to religious questions. In his last years Hung was subject to mental disorders. Realizing that the Taiping forces were doomed to imminent and total defeat, Hung committed suicide by taking poison.