Yao Wenyuan (姚文元, Pinyin yao2 wen2 yuan2) (born 1931) is a former Chinese writer and propaganda official and a member of the Gang of Four in the People's Republic of China.
He began his career in Shanghai as a literary critic. After meeting Zhang Chunqiao, he devoted himself to critical campaigns against writers. His article on "The destitution of Hai Rui", ordered by Jiang Qing, launched the Cultural Revolution on November 10, 1965. In April 1969 he joined the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, working on official propaganda. He was arrested on October 1976 and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.
He was released on October 5, 1996. He has been writing a book and studying Chinese history since his release on medical parole in 1994. He lives now in his hometown of Shanghai.