Zhū Róngjī (pinyin: Zhū Róngjī; Wade-Giles: Chu Jung-chi; IPA: [tʂú ʐʊ̌ŋtɕí]; born 23 October 1928 in Changsha, Hunan) is a prominent Chinese politician who served as the Mayor and Party chief in Shanghai between 1987 and 1991, before serving as Vice-Premier and then the fifth Premier of the People's Republic of China from March 1998 to March 2003.
A tough administrator, his time in office saw the continued double-digit growth of the Chinese economy and China's increased assertiveness in international affairs. Known to be engaged in a testy relationship with General Secretary Jiang Zemin, under whom he served, Zhu provided a novel pragmatism and strong work ethic in the government and party leadership increasingly infested by corruption, and as a result gained great popularity with the Chinese public. His opponents, however, charge that Zhu's tough and pragmatic stance on policy was unrealistic and unnecessary, and many of his promises were left unfulfilled. Zhu retired in 2003, and has not been a public figure since. Premier Zhu was also widely known for his charisma and tasteful humor.
Purges, "rehabilitation", and Deng Xiaoping
Zhu joined the Communist Party of China in October 1949. He graduated from the prestigious Tsinghua University in 1951 where he majored in electrical engineering and became the chairman of Tsinghua Student Union in 1951. Afterwards, he worked for the Northeast China Department of Industries as deputy head of its production planning office.
From 1952 to 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. Pardoned (but not 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, his politic looked for like-minded economic advisors and sought out Zhu. The CPC formally rehabilitated Zhu on the strength of Zhu's forward-thinking and bold economic ideas. His membership in CPC was restored. Deng once said that Zhu "has his own views, dares to make decisions and knows economics."
Zhu (second left) leading the Chinese delegation at the European Management Forum in 1986 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.
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 the use of credit notes 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.