Zhao Ziyang

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Zhao Ziyang (pronounced [t͡ʂɑ̂ʊ̯ t͡sɨ̀jɑ̌ŋ]; 17 October 1919 – 17 January 2005) was a high-ranking politician in the People's Republic of China (PRC). He was the third Premier of the People's Republic of China from 1980 to 1987, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1987 to 1989.

As a senior government official, Zhao was critical of Maoist policies and instrumental in implementing free-market reforms, first in Sichuan, subsequently nationwide. He emerged on the national scene due to support from Deng Xiaoping after the Cultural Revolution. He also sought measures to streamline the bureaucracy and fight corruption, which was severely affecting the Party's legitimacy in the 1980s. Zhao Ziyang was also an advocate of the privatization of state-owned enterprises, the separation of the Party and the state, and general market economic reforms. Many of these views were shared by then-General Secretary Hu Yaobang.[2]

His economic reform policies and open sympathies to student demonstrators during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 placed him increasingly at odds with conservatives within the party leadership, namely Premier Li Peng, and also began to lose favour with paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. In the aftermath of the events, Zhao was purged politically and effectively placed under house arrest for the next 15 years. His name has been a taboo subject within China since 1989. He died in Beijing in 2005, without the funeral rites generally accorded to a senior Chinese official due to his political fall from grace.


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