|Birth Day:||October 17, 1919|
|Death Date:||17 January 2005(2005-01-17) (aged 85)
|Birth Place:||Hua County, Anyang, China, China|
As per our current Database, Zhao Ziyang died on 17 January 2005(2005-01-17) (aged 85)
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Zhao was born Zhao Xiuye (Chinese: 趙修業), but changed his given name to "Ziyang" while attending middle school in Wuhan. He was the son of a wealthy landlord in Hua County, Henan, who was later murdered by Communist Party officials during a land reform movement in the early 1940s. Zhao joined the Communist Youth League in 1932, and became a full member of the Party in 1938.
By 1965 Zhao was the Party secretary of Guangdong province, despite not being a member of the Communist Party Central Committee. He was forty-six at the time that he first became Party secretary, a notably young age to hold such a prestigious position. Because of his moderate political orientation, Zhao was attacked by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976).
He was dismissed from all official positions in 1967, after which he was paraded through Guangzhou in a dunce cap and publicly denounced as "a stinking remnant of the landlord class".
Zhao's rehabilitation began in April 1971, when he and his family were woken in the middle of the night by someone banging on the door. Without much explanation, the Party chief of the factory that Zhao was working at informed Zhao that he was to go at once to Changsha, the provincial capital. The factory's only means of transport was a three-wheeled motorcycle, which was ready to take him.
Throughout 1972 Zhou Enlai directed Zhao's political rehabilitation. Zhao was appointed to the Central Committee, and in Inner Mongolia became the Revolutionary Committee Secretary and vice-chairman in March 1972. Zhao was elevated to the 10th Central Committee in August 1973, and returned to Guangdong as 1st CPC Secretary and Revolutionary Committee Chair in April 1974. He became Political Commissar of the Chengdu Military Region in December 1975.
Zhao was appointed Party Secretary of Sichuan in 1975, effectively the province's highest-ranking official. Earlier in the Cultural Revolution, Sichuan had been notable for the violent battles that rival organizations of local Red Guards had fought against each other. At the time, Sichuan was China's most populous province, but it had been economically devastated by the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, whose collective policies had collapsed the province's agricultural production to levels not seen since the 1930s, despite a great increase in the province's population. The economic situation was so bad that citizens in Sichuan were reportedly selling their daughters for food. Soon after taking office, Zhao introduced a series of successful market-oriented reforms, leading to an increase in industrial production by 81% and agricultural output by 25% within three years. Zhao's reforms made him popular in Sichuan, where the local people created a saying: "要吃粮，找紫阳"; "yào chī liǎng, zhǎo Zǐyáng". (This saying is a pun on Zhao's name, which can be loosely translated as: "if you want to eat, look for Ziyang.")
After ousting Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader" in 1978, Deng Xiaoping recognized the "Sichuan Experience" as a model for Chinese economic reform. Deng promoted Zhao to a position as an alternate member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China in 1977, and as a full member in 1979. He joined the Politburo Standing Committee, China's highest ruling organ, in 1980. Zhao became the Leader of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs and Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China in 1980 and 1981 separately.
After 1978 Zhao's policies were replicated in Anhui, with similar success. In 1980, after serving under Hua Guofeng as vice-premier for six months, Zhao replaced Hua as Premier of the State Council with a mandate to introduce his rural reforms across China. Between 1980 and 1984, China's agricultural production rose by 50%.
Western observers generally view the year that Zhao served as general secretary as the most open in the history of the People's Republic of China. Many limitations on freedom of speech and freedom of press were relaxed, allowing intellectuals to freely express themselves, and to propose "improvements" for the country. Zhao boldly introduced the stock market in China and vigorously promoted futures trading there. In 1984, under the support of Zhao Ziyang, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou became experimental cities of joint-stock system, some companies issued stock only within own company workers. In November 1985, the first share-issuing enterprise was established in Shanghai and issued 10,000 shares of 50 RMB par value stock publicly, attracted many investors' interest. Zhao Ziyang hosted a financial meeting on 2 August 1986, he demanded that the joint stock system should be carried out nationwide in the following year.
Zhao and Hu also began a large-scale anti-corruption programme, and permitted the investigations of the children of high-ranking Party elders, who had grown up protected by their parents' influence. Hu's investigation of Party officials belonging to this "Crown Prince Party" made Hu unpopular with many powerful Party officials. In January 1987 a clique of Party elders forced Hu to resign, on the grounds that he had been too lenient to student protestors. After Hu's dismissal, Deng promoted Zhao to replace Hu as CPC general secretary, putting Zhao in the position to succeed Deng as "paramount leader". One month before Zhao was appointed to the position of general secretary, Zhao was interviewed by an American reporter, stating: "I am not fit to be the general secretary... I am more fit to look after economic affairs." Zhao's vacated premiership was in turn filled by Li Peng, a conservative who opposed many of Zhao's economic and political reforms.
In the 1987 Communist Party Congress Zhao declared that China was in "a primary stage of socialism" that could last 100 years. Under this premise, Zhao believed that China needed to experiment with a variety of economic reforms in order to stimulate production. Zhao proposed to separate the roles of the Party and state, a proposal that has since become taboo.
Zhao lived for fifteen years under house arrest, accompanied by his wife. The hutong in which Zhao lived had once belonged to a hairdresser of the Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi. Before his death in 1987 Hu Yaobang had also lived in the house. It was supplied by the Beijing government and is located in central Beijing, close to Zhongnanhai. Despite Zhao's house arrest, no formal charges were ever laid against him, and he was never expelled from the Communist Party. After his arrest, Deng and his successors continued to believe that Zhao and his subordinates had worked secretly to organize the nationwide protests, and worried that his death might trigger protests similar to the protests sparked by the death of Hu Yaobang.
Zhao's proposal in May 1988 to accelerate price reform led to widespread popular complaints about rampant inflation and gave opponents of rapid reform the opening to call for greater centralization of economic controls and stricter prohibitions against Western influence. This precipitated a political debate, which grew more heated through the winter of 1988 to 1989.
Zhao was general secretary for little more than a year before the death of Hu Yaobang on 15 April 1989, which, coupled with a growing sense of public outrage caused by high inflation, provided the backdrop for the large-scale protest of 1989 by students, intellectuals, and other parts of a disaffected urban population. The Tiananmen protests initially began as a spontaneous public mourning for Hu, but evolved into nationwide protests supporting political reform and demanding an end to Party corruption.
After 1989, Zhao remained ideologically estranged from the Chinese government. He remained popular among those who believed that the government was wrong in ordering the Tiananmen Massacre, and that the Party should reassess its position on the student protests. He continued to hold China's top leadership responsible for the assault, and refused to accept the official Party line that the demonstrations had been a part of a "counter-revolutionary rebellion". After his arrest, Zhao eventually came to hold a number of beliefs that were much more radical than any positions he had ever expressed while in power. Zhao came to believe that China should adopt a free press, freedom to organize, an independent judiciary, and a multiparty parliamentary democracy.
Since 1989, one of the few publications that has dared to print a non-government-approved memorial praising Zhao's legacy has been the magazine China Through the Ages (Yanhuang Chunqiu). The magazine released the pro-Zhao article in July 2010. The article was written by Zhao's former aide, Yang Rudai.
Prisoner of the State contained minor historical errors, which commenters noted may reflect how out of touch China's leaders are with Chinese society. Although the Beijing populace did spontaneously attempt to block Chinese troops' entrance into Beijing, Zhao's assertion that "groups of old ladies and children slept in the roads" was not correct. Zhao noted that the astrophysicist Fang Lizhi (the Chinese government's most wanted dissident following the Tiananmen Protests) was out of the country in 1989 and publicly critical of Deng Xiaoping, when in fact Fang was living just outside Beijing and deliberately kept silent about politics during the 1989 protests.
Zhao's published autobiography is based on approximately thirty cassette tapes which Zhao secretly recorded between 1999 and 2000. The material in his biography was largely consistent with the information from the "Tiananmen Papers", an unauthorized collection of Chinese government documents published in 2001. The book was also consistent with material from "Captive Conversations", a record of conversations between Zhao and his friend Zong Fengming, which was published only in Chinese. According to Zhao's friend and former co-worker, Du Daozheng, Zhao only recorded the tapes after being convinced by his friends to do so.
In February 2004, Zhao had a pneumonia attack that led to a pulmonary failure and he was hospitalized for three weeks. Zhao was hospitalized again with pneumonia on 5 December 2004. Reports of his death were officially denied in early January 2005. Later, on 15 January, he was reported to be in a coma after multiple strokes. According to Xinhua, Vice President Zeng Qinghong represented the party's central leadership to visit Zhao at the hospital. Zhao died on 17 January in a Beijing hospital at 07:01, at the age of 85. He was survived by his second wife, Liang Boqi, and five children (a daughter and four sons).
On 29 January 2005, the government held a funeral ceremony for him at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery, a place reserved for revolutionary heroes and high government officials, that was attended by some 2,000 mourners, who were pre-approved to attend. Several dissidents, including Zhao's secretary Bao Tong and Tiananmen Mothers leader Ding Zilin, were kept under house arrest and therefore could not attend. Xinhua reported that the most senior official to attend the funeral was Jia Qinglin, fourth in the party hierarchy, and other officials who attended included He Guoqiang, Wang Gang and Hua Jianmin. Mourners were forbidden to bring flowers or to inscribe their own messages on the government-issued flowers. There was no eulogy at the ceremony because the government and Zhao's family could not agree on its content: while the government wanted to say he made mistakes, his family refused to accept he did anything wrong. On the day of his funeral, state television mentioned Zhao's death for the first time. Xinhua issued a short article on the funerary arrangements, acknowledging Zhao's "contributions to the party and to the people", but said he made "serious mistakes" during the 1989 "political disturbance". According to Du Daozheng, who wrote the foreword to the Chinese edition of Zhao's memoirs, the use of the term "serious mistakes" instead of the former verdict of supporting a "counter-revolutionary riot" represented a backing down by the Party. After the ceremony, Zhao was cremated. His ashes were taken by his family to his Beijing home, since the government had denied him a place at Babaoshan. In October 2019 he was finally laid to rest in a cemetery north of Beijing and it was reported that he had been declared Damnatio Memoriae.
On 14 May 2009, a published edition of Zhao's memoirs was released to the public, under the English title Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang. The 306-page book was crafted over four years from tapes recorded in secret by Zhao while under house arrest. In the last chapter, Zhao praises the Western system of parliamentary democracy and says it is the only way China can solve its problems of corruption and a growing gap between the rich and poor.
As of 2009 his memoir was being sold (in both Chinese and English) in Hong Kong but not in mainland China, though a Microsoft Word document containing the memoir's entire Chinese-language text became available on the Internet and was downloaded widely throughout mainland China.
Currently, Zhao Ziyang is 102 years, 8 months and 11 days old. Zhao Ziyang will celebrate 103rd birthday on a Monday 17th of October 2022.
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