Rong Yiren

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Rong Yiren
Rong Yiren graduation.jpg
Rong Yiren in 1937
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
In office
March 12, 1993 – March 15, 1998
President Jiang Zemin
Preceded by Wang Zhen
Succeeded by Hu Jintao
Personal details
Born (1916-05-01)May 1, 1916
Wuxi, Jiangsu, China
Died October 26, 2005(2005-10-26) (aged 89)
Beijing, China
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Yang Jianqing (m. 1936–2005)
Alma mater St. John's University, Shanghai
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Rong.
Rong Yiren
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Rong Yiren (Chinese: 荣毅仁; Wade–Giles: Jung I-jen; May 1, 1916 – October 26, 2005) was the Vice President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 1998 and was heavily involved with the opening of the Chinese economy to western investment. Rong is known both in China and in the Western world as "the Red Capitalist" because his family were some of the few pre-1949 industrialists to have been treated well by the Communist party of China in return for their co-operation with the government of the People's Republic of China.


Early life[edit]

Rong Yiren and wife Yang Jianqing

Rong was born on May 1, 1916 in Wuxi, a city near Shanghai in Jiangsu Province.[1] His father Rong Desheng and uncle Rong Zongjing were the founders and operators of a flour and cotton milling business. He was educated at the Christian-run St. John's University, one of China's most prestigious colleges at the time. After graduation, Rong was assigned to manage a part of the family business and he took over the running of all 24 mills upon the death of his elder brother Paul Yung in an air crash on Basalt Island, Hong Kong, on 21 December 1948.[2]

Post Chinese Civil War[edit]

At the end of the Chinese Civil War and the founding of the People's Republic of China, Rong chose to stay on the Chinese mainland instead of fleeing to Hong Kong or Taiwan as most businessmen did. His family was allowed to keep their business until 1956, when all private businesses became state-owned. His family was given $6 million in compensation. He was appointed the vice-mayor of Shanghai in 1957 and later served as an economics adviser for the Communist Party of China.

Cultural Revolution[edit]

During the Cultural Revolution, he was denounced as a "capitalist". He lost a great deal of his personal wealth and was the target of death threats from the Red Guards, radical youth organizations aligned with the new social and cultural policies of Mao Zedong. In a situation typical of disgraced government officials during the Cultural Revolution, Rong was given a demeaning job as a janitor for a period of time. He received some political protection from Zhou Enlai and was thus protected from further abuse and mistreatment.

Chinese economic reformation[edit]

After the death of Mao Zedong and the end of Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping appointed Rong as an advisor for the economic opening of China. He set up the China International Trust and Investment Corp., or CITIC, in 1978, which was responsible for much of the initial western investment in China.

At the height of the pro-democracy movement in 1989, he risked his life by asking the top Chinese leaders to negotiate with the students. After the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, many political analysts believed that he would receive severe punishment. Instead however, he was appointed to the ceremonial post of vice-president in 1993.

Later life[edit]

Rong retired in 1998 and died on October 26, 2005.[1] He was listed as one of the richest men in Asia, with a family fortune of $1.9 billion in 2000 (equivalent to $3 billion in 2016). Most of this wealth can be attributed to Rong's son Larry Yung in his role as chair of CITIC Pacific.[3]

Although regarded as a non-Communist during his lifetime, he was a member of Communist Party of China since 1985, according to his official obituary in Chinese; yet owing to his request that his membership be unveiled only after his death, almost nobody knew about his status as a communist even after his vice presidency.


  1. ^ a b "Rong Yiren". The Independent. 29 October 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  2. ^ David Pickerell (19 November 2007). "Basalt Island Crash Investigation" (PDF). Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  3. ^
Political offices
Preceded by
Wang Zhen
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
Succeeded by
Hu Jintao
Business positions
New title Chairman of China International Trust and Investment Corporation
Succeeded by
Wei Mingyi
General-manager of China International Trust and Investment Corporation
Succeeded by
Wang Jun
Academic offices
Preceded by
Liao Chengzhi
Chairman of the Board of Jinan University
Succeeded by
Qian Weichang