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Chinese Politicians - Zhu Rongji

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Zhu Rongji

Former Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji attends the celebration of the Communist Party's 90th anniversary at the Great Hall of the People on July 1, 2011 in Beijing, China.

Feng Li / Getty Images
Zhu Rongji, an economic reformer and former premier of China, is credited with containing China’s inflation in the 1990’s.

Name: Zhu Rongji (朱镕基)

Gender: Male

Date of Birth: October 23, 1928

Place of Birth: Changsha, Hunan Province, China

Who Is Zhu Rongji?:

After joining the Communist Party in 1949, Zhu Rongji began his career at the Northeast China Ministry of Industries’ production planning office. During his post, Zhu criticized Chairman Mao Zedong’s policies during the Great Leap Forward, Mao’s radical socialist campaign to rapidly increase China’s industrial output by mobilizing the country’s vast rural peasantry. Zhu was subsequently labeled a Rightist, but was later pardoned for his comments.
Zhu went to work at the State Planning Commission where he began to build his reputation for being an expert in economics. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), Zhu was purged and re-educated from 1970 to 1975. The Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命, Wúchǎn jiējí wénhuà dàgémìng) was a mass movement orchestrated by Mao Zedong to root out “capitalist tendencies” by purging things he considered to be bourgeois, including educated elites, religion and culture. After his re-education, Zhu worked as an engineer for the Ministry of Petroleum and then as a director the Industrial Economics Institute.
Zhu became the mayor of Shanghai in 1987. During his three year mayoral term, Zhu opened up Pudong and helped modernize the Special Economic Zone’s communication, telecommunication, and construction. In 1991, Zhu was elected China’s vice-premier and then worked as director of the State Council Production Office where he tackled economic issues in industry, agriculture and finance.

In the early 1990s, Zhu was appointed governor of the Bank of China. His success using macro-economic controls to curb China’s rapid inflation helped earn him the appointment to premier in 1998.

Zhu was appointed premier of China in March 1998. As premier, Zhu embarked on an ambitious plan to reform China’s economy and trim down the country’s bureaucracy which earned him the nickname ‘China’s Gorbachev’ by the Western media.

Why You Should Know Zhu Rongji::

Zhu Rongji spearheaded an effort to grow China’s economy by trimming China’s cabinet and government jobs, revitalizing education, stabilizing China’s currency and keeping China’s inflation low. Zhu's macro-economic control measures (宏觀調控, hóngguān tiáokòng), which included reforms of the tax system, financial sector, state-owned enterprises, social security, investment, education, and housing, helped China control inflation caused by rapid economic growth in the 1990s. Zhu’s policies were key to helping China’s economy grow in the midst of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
When Zhu became premier, he was more popular than his predecessor Li Peng (李鹏), who was China’s premier from 1987 to 1998. Zhu’s his leadership style is often compared to that of Zhou Enlai (周恩来), who was China’s first premier from October 1949 until his death in January 1976. Zhu is credited with being instrumental in helping China enter the World Trade Organization in 2001. China’s entry into the WTO helped bring foreign capital into China and helped open up trade between China and the world.
Zhu is admired by many Chinese worldwide. Though Zhu was popular, Zhu is sometimes criticized for making too many promises that he couldn’t keep while in office. Other detractors argue that some of China’s current social problems stem from Zhu’s economic reforms. China’s current social problems include high medical care costs, fierce competition for entry into elite schools, and a difficult job market for college graduates.

Zhu Rongji’s Life::

Zhu graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing in 1951 where he majored in electrical engineering. He is married to Lao An. They have one son and one daughter. Zhu speaks English and likes Peking opera. He is also known for his humor.
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