Li Peng: Wikis


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Li Peng
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Li (李).
Li Peng

In office
April, 1988 – March, 1998
Deputy Zhu Rongji
Zou Jiahua
Qian Qichen
Li Lanqing
Preceded by Zhao Ziyang
Succeeded by Zhu Rongji

In office
March 15, 1998 – March 15, 2003
Preceded by Qiao Shi
Succeeded by Wu Bangguo

Born October 20, 1928 (1928-10-20) (age 81)
Chengdu, Sichuan, Republic of China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Zhu Lin
Children Li Xiaopeng
Li Xiaolin
Li Xiaoyong
Alma mater Moscow Power Engineering Institute
Profession civil engineer
Religion Atheist

Li Peng (simplified Chinese: 李鹏traditional Chinese: 李鵬pinyin: Lǐ PéngWade-Giles: Li P'eng), (born 20 October 1928) was the Premier of the People's Republic of China between 1987 and 1998, and the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, from 1998 to 2003. For much of the 1990s Li was ranked second in the Communist Party of China (CPC) hierarchy behind then General Secretary Jiang Zemin. He retained his seat on the Politburo Standing Committee until 2002.

As Premier, Li was the most visible representative of China's government who backed the use of force to quell the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, and emerged as one of the least popular Chinese leaders following the protests. Li also advocated for a largely conservative approach with Chinese economic reform, which placed him at odds with former Premier Zhao Ziyang, who fell out of favour after 1989.[1] As Premier, Li oversaw a rapidly growing economy, and attempted to decentralize and downsize the Chinese bureaucracy, to varying degrees of success.[2] He was also at the helm of the controversial Three Gorges Dam project.


Personal background

Li was born in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the son of writer Li Shuoxun, one of the earliest CPC revolutionaries, the group that divided and thus weakened China before the Japanese invasion.[3] Li was orphaned at age three when his father was executed by the Kuomintang for treason and for support of armed splittism. He became the adopted son of Zhou Enlai, famed in China as the strong supporter and disciple of Mao Zedong.[4] As a seventeen year old in 1945, Li joined the Chinese Communist Party.[5]

Rise to power

Like other Communist Party cadres of the third generation, Li gained a technical background. In 1941 he began studying at the Institute of Natural Science (the former Beijing Institute of Technology) in Yan'an.[6] In 1948, he was sent to study at the Moscow Power Engineering Institute, majoring in hydroelectric engineering. During the period he was chairman of the Chinese Students Association in the Soviet Union. A year later, Zhou Enlai became Premier of the newly declared People's Republic of China. Li survived the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution unscathed, primarily due to his family contacts in powerful Communist circles.

Li advanced politically, becoming deputy minister of the state power industry in 1979 and then minister in 1981. Between 1979 and 1983, he served as vice-minister and minister of Power Industry and secretary of the Party Group of the Ministry of Power Industry, and vice-minister and deputy secretary of the Party group of the Ministry of Water Resources and Power.

After Li was elected member of the CPC Central Committee at the Twelfth CPC National Congress in 1982, he rose to the Politburo and the Party Secretariat in 1985, and the standing committee of the Politburo in 1987, when he also became acting premier. Beginning in 1983, Li Peng served as vice-premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. Beginning in 1985, he served concurrently as minister in charge of the State Education Commission.

While in this position, political dissent as well as social problems like inflation, urban migration and school overcrowding became even greater problems in China. Despite these acute challenges, Li shifted his focus from the day-to-day concerns of the energy, communications and raw materials departments, instead to the forefront of the inter-party debate on the pace of market reforms, opposing the modern economic reforms pioneered by Zhao Ziyang throughout Zhao's years of public service. While students and intellectuals urged greater reforms, some party elders increasingly feared that the instability opened up by any significant reforms threatened to undermine the authority of the Communist Party, the central focus of Li's career.


Hu Yaobang, a protégé of Deng Xiaoping and a leading advocate of reform, was blamed by the Communist Party for allowing a series of national student-led protests and forced to resign as CPC General Secretary in January 1987. Premier Zhao Ziyang was made General Secretary and Li Peng, former Vice Premier and Minister of Electric Power and Water Conservancy, was made Premier of the People's Republic of China.

After Zhao became General Secretary of China, his proposals in May 1988 to expand free enterprise led to popular complaints (which some suggest were politically inspired) about inflation fears and gave opponents of rapid reform the opening to call for greater centralization of economic controls and stricter prohibitions against Western influence, especially opposing further expansion of Zhao's more free enterprise-oriented approach. This precipitated a political debate, which grew more heated through the winter of 1988-1989.

The death of Hu Yaobang on 15 April 1989, coupled with continuing economic hardship and high inflation, provided the backdrop for the largescale protest movement of 1989 by students, intellectuals, and other parts of a disaffected urban population.

Taking advantage of the loosening political atmosphere, students throughout the nation's cities, led marches and protests, reacting to a variety of causes for their discontent, which was most attributed to the slow pace of reform. Li, along with the revolutionary elders who still wielded considerable power and influence, increasingly came to the opposite conclusion, staunchly opposing any rapid pace of economic or political change, which further exacerbated the mood of confusion and frustration rife among the nation's new era of university students.

Ideologically closer to the revolutionary elders, especially his mentor Chen Yun, Li had less expertise in modern economics than some of his contemporaries, Li favoring more the Soviet-style central economic planning and slower economic growth. Li most strongly believed that economic growth and a successful transition to the future was primarily dependent upon political stability.

Chairmanship of the National People's Congress

He remained premier until 1998, when he was constitutionally limited to two terms. After his second term expired, he became the chairman of the National People's Congress. Support for Li for the largely ceremonial position was low, as he only received less than 90% of the vote at the 1998 National People's Congress, where he was the only candidate.[7] He spent much of his time monitoring what he considers his life's work, the Three Gorges Dam. Like many in his generation, the hydraulic engineer, who spent much of his career presiding over a vast and growing power industry, considered himself a builder and a modernizer.


Although retired and in his early eighties, Li retains some influence in the PSC. The former Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China member Luo Gan, is considered to be his protégé.[8] Since the 17th Party Congress, Li's influence has considerably waned and he is no longer active on China's political scene, partially owing to the corruption issues that plague him and his whole family.

Beginning in the 1990s, Li has emerged as one of the most unpopular politicians in China, mainly for his lack of charisma, image as a hardliner, widespread corruption among his family members, and role in suppressing the Tiananmen square protests in 1989, although the amount of influence Li really had in ordering martial law is not exactly known. More critics also partly blamed Li for causing the economic troubles under Zhao's rule in the first place by objecting to proposed reforms so strongly that they were watered down and made inefficient.

In the immediate aftermath of the Tiananmen protests, Li took a role in the austerity program, the tight money policy, price controls on many commodities, supporting higher interest rates and the cut-off of state loans to the private and cooperative sectors, in attempts to reduce inflation. Deng and, particularly, Zhu Rongji later loosened these controls when they were no longer deemed necessary, as Zhu believed more in Zhao's open approach to markets, which continued to lead to the longer-term, steady, rapid, uninterrupted economic growth in the years that followed.

Li started two megaprojects when he was the premier, the Three Gorges Dam and Shenzhou Manned Space Program. Both programs were subject to much controversy within China and abroad, the latter especially due to its extraordinary cost of tens of billions in a country that sometimes referred to itself as Third World. Many economists and humanitarians suggested that those billions in capital might be better invested in helping the population deal with economic hardships and improvement in the areas of education, health services, and developing a dependable legal system. [9][10]


Li Peng is married to Zhu Lin (朱琳), and they have a total of 3 children:[11] Eldest son Li Xiaopeng, daughter Li Xiaolin, and younger son Li Xiaoyong. Due to the role Li Peng played in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Li's children are generally considered unpopular. Li's third child, Li Xiaoyong (李小勇), is married to Ye Xiaoyan (叶小燕), the daughter of Communist veteran Ye Ting's second son Ye Zhengmin (叶正明).


Alleged Corruption

In early 1998, over four thousand people invested in a company named New Great Nation Co. (新国大), lured by promised returns that were as high as 30%. The investors had a false sense of security because Li Peng’s wife, Zhu Lin, along with Li's youngest son and daughter-in-law, Li Xiaoyong and Ye Xiayan were all among the board members. However, in August of the same year, ¥half a billion (some $US80 billion) of the company's assets simply disappeared, and the company went bankrupt and closed. When the case was finally settled, investors were only able to get ¥40 million back. Although four culprits were executed by Chinese court sentence, none of Li Peng’s family were touched. The general Chinese popular belief was (and still is) that Li Peng used his power to ensure that his family remain unscathed.

Although originally kept a secret, the Chinese investigation was later leaked to the Chinese general public, and subsequently widely published on many domestic Chinese website (which eventually were banned), which further outraged the Chinese public: during the brief existence of New Nation Great Co., Li Xiaoyong (李小勇) and his wife Ye Xiaoyan (叶小燕) transferred over 34 million (in Hong Kong dollar) company assets to buy two very expensive homes in Hong Kong (Wanzi Huijingge 湾仔会景阁 and Yangmingshanzhuang 阳明山庄). In fact, Li Xiaoyong (李小勇), his wife and their only daughter already obtained permanent legal residence in Hong Kong using the fake name Zhu Feng (朱峰) for Li Xiaoyong. Subsequently, they also obtained permanent residence in Singapore.

Apparent use of the money allegedly embezzled by Li Peng's yonger son Li Xiaoyong and Ye Xiaoyan was not limited to purchasing expensive homes in Hong Kong, because they also spent over 2.8 million Hong Kong dollars to purchase another expensive home in Singapore, located on Tanjongrhu Rd (丹戎禺路). While in Singapore, Li Xiaoyong always eats at his favorite restaurant, the Singapore branch of the famous Hong Kong restaurant chain that specializes in abalone Aiyi Abalone (阿一鲍鱼), frequent the restaurant four or five times a week, spending at least 55 thousand Hong Kong dollars. Such allegations of corruption were so shocking that even some of the overseas anticommie Chinese media found it difficult to believe, and initiated their own investigation in an attempt to confirm the truth of these allegations. As it turned out, all of the allegations resulting from the Chinese investigation's discovery were true, and this information was subsequently published in Chinese media outside of mainland China, such as Taiwan outlet 壹周刊[1].

As the findings of the investigation leaked to the general Chinese public, the Chinese government took an unexpected stand. As victims (including some influential social citizens of Beijing) of New Nation Great (新国大) Co. angrily demonstrated outside the Zhongnanhai more than a dozen times, hold up the banners that claim “Li Peng return the money to us from your son”, none of the demonstrations were dispersed and none of the demonstrators were arrested. Each time, the Chinese government only sent police to watch the demonstrators and did nothing else. As the information of the investigation was leaked and circulated on the Internet, it was not immediately censored; instead, it was allowed to circulate for quite some time before the eventual ban, and none of the domestic Chinese Web sites that published the info were shut down by the Chinese governmental censorship. However, the Chinese government did not respond to the victims' and public demands either. China analysts postulate such an unusual move by the Chinese government served several purposes, including pressuring Li Peng to retire from his post of chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress when he reached the age limit, as well as putting a distance between Li Peng and the government itself for the future leadership. Whatever the reason, the investigation results concerning corruption charges of Li Peng's family that leaked to the public, was tolerated by the Chinese government for a short period of time, and certainly made Li Peng and his family become more unpopular than ever among the general Chinese populace.

See also


  1. ^ The Art of Reforming CPEs
  2. ^ [The China Quarterly (2003), 175 : 775-802 Cambridge University Press “Downsizing” the Chinese State: Government Retrenchment in the 1990s]
  3. ^ China Spring Digest (1988), p. 9
  4. ^ Fanǵ (1986), p. 66
  5. ^ Beijing review (1989) v. 32, nos. 27-52
  6. ^ Bartke (1987), p. 235
  7. ^ China's parliament embarrasses Li Peng, BBC News Online, March 16, 1998
  8. ^ Europa World Yearbook (2004), p. 1109
  9. ^ Wu, Jeff. (2007). Three Gorges Dam, Claremont Port Side, November 28, 2007
  10. ^ Lan, Chen. (2004). Pre-Shenzhou Studies
  11. ^ Li Peng,, 1999


  • Bartke, Wolfgang. (1987). Who's who in the People's Republic of China. K.G. Saur. ISBN 978-3598106101
  • China Spring Digest. (1988). China Spring Research, 1.
  • Europa World Yearbook. (2004). The Europa World Year Book 2004. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1857432541
  • Fanǵ, Percy Juchenǵ; Fanǵ, Lucy Guinong. (1986). Zhou Enlai: a profile. Foreign Languages Press.

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
He Dongchang (Minister of Education)
Chairman of the State Education Commission
1985 – 1988
Succeeded by
Li Tieying
Political offices
Preceded by
Zhao Ziyang
Premier of the People's Republic of China
Succeeded by
Zhu Rongji
Preceded by
Qiao Shi
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
1998 - 2003
Succeeded by
Wu Bangguo


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