Zhang Zhixin joined the Communist Party of China in 1955 in Liaoning Province where she worked for the publicity department. But during the "Cultural Revolution" her open opposition to the "Gang of Four" infuriated the Gang's Liaoning followers and Zhang was arrested in 1969 and accused of being a counter-revolutionary.
Despite being tortured in prison Zhang refused to retract her views. At a public meeting held to criticize and humiliate her, she declared: "You should not force me to deny what I think is right. It is impossible for me to surrender. It is better to live with honesty than with flattery. I've never thought of enslaving anybody, also won't allow anybody to degrade me. Whatever happens, I'll remember I'm a Communist Party member and keep in mind the virtues of justice, truth and honesty."
Finally Zhang was executed by supporters of the "Gang of Four" on April 4, 1975.
In March 1979, the Liaoning Communist Party reinvestigated Zhang's case. The then Party chief of the province Ren Zhongyi said: "The accusation against Zhang was absolutely fraudulent. She was cruelly killed. She was a good Party member, who fought bravely for the truth and her faith even in face of death. Party members should learn from her."
Zhang was posthumously cleared of the charges against her. Her tomb bears an inscription written by her mother "a pursuer of truth, and more important, a follower, whose body is no longer on the earth, but whose spirit lives on."