Rong Yiren

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Rong Yiren
荣毅仁
Rong Yiren graduation.jpg
Rong Yiren in 1937
5th 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, Kiangsu, China
Died October 26, 2005(2005-10-26) (aged 89)
Beijing, China
Political party

Communist Party of China

China Democratic National Construction Association
Spouse(s) Yang Jianqing (m. 1936–2005)
Alma mater St. John's University, Shanghai
Rong Yiren
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Rong Yiren (Chinese: 荣毅仁; Wade–Giles: Jung I-jen; May 1, 1916 – October 26, 2005)[1] 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.

Biography[edit]

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.[2] His father Rong Desheng and uncle Rong Zongjing were the founders and operators of a flour and cotton milling business. He graduated with a degree in history from the Christian-run St. John's University. Then he 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.[3]

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.

In the 1950s, Mao Zedong endorsed him many times. When Korean hostilities broke out he contributed substantial sums of money, which equalling 7.5 times the price of a jet fighter, along with considerable clothing. He was appointed the vice-mayor of Shanghai in 1957 and Vice Minister of Textiles concurrently since 1959,[1][4] 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.[5]

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 on March 15, 1998 and died on October 26, 2005.[2] 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.[6]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Rong requested Deng to inscribe "error: {{lang}}: unrecognized language tag: zh-han (help) (literal meaning is Against Cheating Room)" on a plaque in 1988, then it was hang at his sitting room to show he is valuing the honesty.[7] This scene is portrayed in drama Deng Xiaoping at History's Crossroads.

He married Yang Jianqing (error: {{lang}}: unrecognized language tag: zh-han (help)) in 1936, Yang died on January 13, 2014 in Hong Kong.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "榮毅仁同志生平". www.people.com.cn (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  2. ^ a b "Rong Yiren". The Independent. 29 October 2005. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  3. ^ David Pickerell (19 November 2007). "Basalt Island Crash Investigation" (PDF). Retrieved 10 August 2015. 
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of China, Vol. 18 (2nd edition, 中国大百科全书(第二版)第18册). Encyclopedia of China Publishing House. 2009. p. 513. ISBN 978-7-500-07958-3. 
  5. ^ "周总理在文革初期嘱咐:"荣毅仁一定要保护好"". Jiefang Daily (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  6. ^ http://www.economist.com/node/5107693
  7. ^ Zhang, Dejiang. "在纪念荣毅仁同志诞辰100周年座谈会上的讲话". news.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
  8. ^ "杨鑑清同志逝世". news.xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 2017-06-05. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Wang Zhen
Vice President of the People's Republic of China
1993–1998
Succeeded by
Hu Jintao
Business positions
New title Chairman of China International Trust and Investment Corporation
1979–1993
Succeeded by
Wei Mingyi
General-manager of China International Trust and Investment Corporation
1979–1993
Succeeded by
Wang Jun
Academic offices
Preceded by
Liao Chengzhi
Chairman of the Board of Jinan University
1985–1994
Succeeded by
Qian Weichang