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Zhu Rongji

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Zhu Rongji
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Zhu Rongji

Order:9th Premier
Term of Office:March, 1998 -March, 2003
Predecessor:Li Peng
Successor:Wen Jiabao
Date of BirthOctober 1, 1928
Place of Birth: Changsha,Hunan
Wife:Lao An
Political Party: Communist
President:Jiang Zemin

Zhū Rngj (born October 1, 1928, Template:Zh-st) was the 9th Premier of the People's Republic of China State Council (March 1998-March 2003), and was a Standing Committee member of the Politburo of 15th CPC Central Committee (September 1997-November 2002). He was born in Changsha, Hunan province and graduated from Tsinghua University in 1951.

Due to limitations of the original GB2312 character set, his name was and is often given as 朱熔基, although he disapproves of this and prefers the more correct 朱镕基.

Contents

Purges, "rehabilitation," and Deng Xiaoping

Zhu joined the Communist Party of China in October, 1949. He graduated from the prestigious Qinghua University where he majored in electrical engineering. Afterwards, he worked for the Northeast China Department of Industries as deputy head of its production planning office.

From 1952-1958, he worked in the State Planning Commission as group head and deputy division chief. Having criticized Mao Zedong's "irrational high growth" policies during the Great Leap Forward, Zhu was labeled a "Rightist" in 1958 and sent to work as a teacher at a cadre school. Rehabilitated in 1962, he worked as an engineer for the National Economy Bureau of the State Planning Commission until 1969.

During the Cultural Revolution, Zhu was purged again, and from 1970 to 1975 he was transferred to work at a "May Seventh Cadre School," a type of farm used for re-education during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

From 1975 to 1979, he served as the deputy chief engineer of a company run by the Pipeline Bureau of the Ministry of Petroleum Industry and as the director of Industrial Economics Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

When Deng Xiaoping started economic reforms in 1978, he looked for like-minded economic advisors and sought out Zhu. Deng politically rehabilitated Zhu on the strength of Zhu's forward-thinking and bold economic ideas. Deng once said that Zhu "has his own views, dares to make decisions and knows economics."

Career in Shanghai

Zhu went to work for the State Economic Commission (SEC) as the division chief of the Bureau of Fuel and Power Industry and as the deputy director of the Comprehensive Bureau from 1979 to 1982. He was appointed as a member of the State Economic Commission in 1982 and as the vice-minister in charge of the commission in 1983, where he held the post until 1987, before being appointed as the mayor of Shanghai.

As the mayor of Shanghai from 1989 to 1991, Zhu won popular respect and acclaim for overseeing the development of Pudong, a Singapore-sized Special Economic Zone (SEZ) wedged between Shanghai proper and the East China Sea, as well the modernization of the city's telecommunications, urban construction, and transport sectors.

Vice Premiership

In 1991, Zhu became the vice-premier of the State Council, transferring to Beijing from Shanghai. Also holding the post of director of the State Council Production Office, Zhu focused on industry, agriculture and finance, launching the drive to disentangle the "debt chains" of state enterprises. For the sake of the peasantry, he took the lead in eliminating IOUs in state grain purchasing.

Between 1993 and 1995, Zhu served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee while retaining his posts as the vice-premier of the State Council and as the governor of the People's Bank of China. From 1995 to 1998, he retained the positions of Standing Committee member and vice-premier.

Concurrently serving as governor of the Central Bank, Zhu tackled the problems of an excessive money supply, rising prices, and a chaotic financial market stemming, in large measure, from runaway investments in fixed assets. After four years of successful macro-economic controls with curbing inflation as the primary task, an overheated Chinese economy cooled down to a "soft landing". With these achievements, Zhu, acknowledged as an able economic administrator, became premier of the State Council.

Premiership

With support from Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, then president and premier respectively, Zhu enacted tough macroeconomic control measures. Favoring healthy, sustainable development, Zhu expunged low-tech, duplicated projects and sectors that would result in "a bubble economy" and projects in transport, energy and agricultural sectors, averting violent market fluctuations. He focused on strengthening agriculture, still the economic base of the developing country and on continuing a moderately tight monetary policy.

President Jiang Zemin nominated Zhu for the position of the premier of the State Council; the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) confirmed the nomination on March 17, 1998 at the NPC First Session. Zhu was re-elected as a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the 15th CPC Central Committee in September 1997.

Zhu kept things on track in the difficult years of the late 1990s, so that China averaged growth of 9.7% a year over the two decades to 2000. Against the backdrop of the Asian financial crisis (and catastrophic domestic floods) mainland China's GDP still grew by 7.9% in the first nine months of 2002, beating the government's 7% target despite a global economic slowdown. This was achieved, partly, through active state intervention to stimulate demand through wage increases in the public sector, and other measures.

While foreign direct investment (FDI) worldwide halved in 2000, the flow of capital into mainland China rose 10%. As global firms scrambled to avoid missing the China boom, FDI in China rose by 22.6% in 2002. While global trade stagnated, growing by one percent in 2002, mainland China's trade soared by 18% in the first nine months of 2002, with exports outstripping imports.

Despite the glowing growth statistics, Zhu tackled deep-seated structural problems: uneven development; inefficient state firms and a banking system mired in bad loans. Observers think there are few substantial disagreements over economic policy in the CPC; tensions focus on the pace of change.

The PRC leadership struggled to modernize state owned enterprises (SOEs) without inducing massive urban unemployment. As millions lost their jobs as state firms close, Zhu demanded financial safety nets for unemployed workers, an important aim in a country of 1.3 billion. China needs 100 million new urban jobs in the next five years to absorb laid off workers and rural migrants; so far they have been achieving this aim due to high per capita GDP growth. Under the auspices of Zhu and Wen Jiabao (his top deputy and successor), the state tried to alleviate unemployment while promoting efficiency, by pumping tax revenues into the economy and maintaining consumer demand.

Critics have charges that there is an oversupply of manufactured goods, driving down prices and profits while increasing the level of bad debt in the banking system. But so far demand for Chinese goods, domestically and abroad, is high enough to put those concerns to rest in the time being. Consumer spending is growing, boosted, in large part, due to longer workers' holidays.

Zhu Rongji (right) with his successor Premier Wen Jiabao
Enlarge
Zhu Rongji (right) with his successor Premier Wen Jiabao

Zhu's right-hand man, Vice Premier Wen Jiabao, oversaw regulations for the stock market and campaigned to develop poorer inland provinces to stem migration and regional resentment. Zhu and Wen set tax limits for peasants to protect them from high levies levies by corrupt officials. Well-respected by ordinary Chinese citizens, Zhu also holds the respect of Western political and business leaders, who found him reassuring and credit him with clinching China's market-opening World Trade Organisation (WTO) deal, which has brought foreign capital pouring into the country.

Zhu remained as Premier until the National People's Congress met in March 2003, when it approved his struggle to clinch trusted deputy Wen Jiabao as his successor. Like his fourth-generation colleague Hu Jintao, Wen's personal opinions are difficult to discern since he sticks very closely to his script. Unlike the frank, strong-willed Zhu, Wen, who has earned a reputation for being an equally competent manager, is known for his suppleness and discretion.

Zhu has won acclaim domestically and internationally for steering the People's Republic of China through Asia's financial meltdown in the late 1990s and into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

During a state visit to Australia, he was so impressed by the water saving toilets that he went missing during a conference while on a bathroom break for several minutes to take apart the toilet and acquaint himself with its workings.

Zhu has a reputation for being a strong, strict administrator, intolerant of flunkeyism, nepotism, and a dilatory style of work. He is generally considered one of the most popular Communist officials in mainland China.

Personal

Zhu has a good command of English. He is rarely seen speaking from script. In his free time, Zhu enjoys the Peking Opera. Allegedly, Zhu is a descendent of Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty. His wife, Lao An, was once vice-chairman of the board of directors of China International Engineering and Consulting. She and Zhu were in the same schools twice, first the Hunan First Provincial Middle School and then Qinghua University. They have a son and a daughter.


Preceded by:
Li Peng
Premier of the State Council
1998–2003
Succeeded by:
Wen Jiabao

Template:End box

See also

ja:朱鎔基 zh:朱镕基

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