Yang Guozhong, was an official of the Chinese dynasty Tang dynasty, serving as a chief minister late in the reign of Emperor Xuanzong. His second cousin Yang GuiFei was Emperor Xuanzong’s favorite concubine, and he gained Emperor Xuanzong’s favor through her. He was considered a gambler, keen with the political scene, although not competent to be chief minister.
Yang Guozhong, as chief minister, was beginning to repeatedly accuse An Lushan of plotting rebellion, claiming that if Emperor Xuanzong summoned An Lushan to the capital, An Lushan would surely not come. Instead, when Emperor Xuanzong summoned An Lushan to the capital, An Lushan came.
Meanwhile, there was a war in the southwest between Tang forces and Nanzhao, which was not going well for Tang, and 200,000 soldiers had died in the conflict. Yang Guozhong, however, was hiding the truth from Emperor Xuanzong and declaring that there had been numerous victories. Emperor Xuanzong’s chief eunuch Gao LiShi saw trouble breawing and attempted to warn the Emperor. Emperor Xuanzong began to be concerned, but took no decisive action.
At the time, Yang Guozhong was also hiding a major flood from Emperor Xuanzong. Once, when Emperor Xuanzong was alone with Gao LiShi, he stated, “The rains would not stop. Speak what you will.” Gao responded, “Since Your Imperial Majesty trusted all power to [Yang Guozhong], the rewards and punishments are out of hand, and the yin and yang are out of alignment. How would I dare to speak?“
Meanwhile, Yang Guozhong repeatedly tried to provoke An Lushan (also a favorite official of Emperor Xuanzong’s) into rebelling, including arresting and executing staff members at An Lushan’s mansion in Chang’an. An Lushan finally did rebel.
Yang Guozhong’s gross military miscalculation then permitted An Lushan to capture the imperial capital Chang’an. Yang Guozhong suggested fleeing to Chengdu, of which Yang Guozhong was commander. Emperor Xuanzong, keeping the news secret from the people of Chang’an, took the imperial guards to escort him, Yang GuiFei, her family, and his immediate clan members, and exited Chang’an, heading toward Chengdu. Attending him were Yang Guozhong, along with some other officals and generals, some eunuchs and ladies in waiting close to him, including Gao LiShi. While in flight, Yang Guozhong, Yang GuiFei, and many of the Yang family were killed because the army attributed the chaos to them.