|“||The fate and future of the People's Republic of China are facing serious threat.||„|
|~ Li Peng|
Li Peng (20 October 1928 – 22 July 2019) was a Chinese politician. Known as the "Butcher of Beijing" for his role in the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Li served as the fourth Premier of the People's Republic of China from 1987 to 1998, and as the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, from 1998 to 2003. For much of the 1990s Li was ranked second in the Communist Party of China (CPC) hierarchy behind then Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin. He retained his seat on the CPC Politburo Standing Committee until his retirement in 2002.
Li was the son of an early Communist revolutionary, Li Shuoxun, who was executed by the Kuomintang. After meeting Zhou Enlai in Sichuan, Li was raised by Zhou and his wife, Deng Yingchao. Li trained to be an engineer in the USSR and worked at an important national power company after returning to China. He escaped the political turmoil of the 1950s, '60s and '70s due to his political connections and his employment in the company. After Deng Xiaoping became China's leader in the late 1970s, Li took a number of increasingly important and powerful political positions, eventually becoming premier in 1987.
As Premier, Li was the most visible representative of China's government who backed the use of force to quell the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. During the protests Li used his authority as premier to declare martial law and, in cooperation with Deng Xiaoping, who was the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, ordered the June 1989 military crackdown against student pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. Li advocated a largely conservative approach to Chinese economic reform, which placed him at odds with General Secretary Zhao Ziyang, who fell out of favour in 1989.
After Zhao was removed from office Li promoted a conservative socialist economic agenda, but lost influence to incoming vice-premier Zhu Rongji and was unable to prevent the increasing free-market liberalization of the Chinese economy. During his time in office he helmed the controversial Three Gorges Dam project. He and his family managed a large Chinese power monopoly, which the Chinese government broke up after his term as premier expired.
After retiring, Li retained some influence in the Politburo Standing Committee. Luo Gan, who presided over law enforcement and national security between 2002 and 2007, was considered Li's protégé. Following the 17th Party Congress, Li's influence waned considerably. He was subject to frequent speculation over corruption issues that plague him and his family. In addition, perhaps more than any other leader, Li's public image had become inextricably associated with memory of the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, and as a result he continued to be a widely despised figure among a substantial segment of the Chinese population well into the 21st century. He was generally unpopular in China, where he (had) "has long been a figure of scorn and suspicion".
Li spent much of the 1990s expanding and managing an energy monopoly, State Power Corporation of China. Because the company was staffed by Li's relatives, Li was accused of turning China's energy industry into a "family fiefdom". At its height, Li's power company controlled 72% of all energy-producing assets in China, and was ranked as the sixtieth-largest company in the world by Fortune magazine. After Li's departure from government, Li's energy monopoly was split into five smaller companies by the Chinese government.
In 2010, Li's autobiographical work, The Critical Moment – Li Peng Diaries, was published by New Century Press. The Critical Moment covered Li's activities during the period of the Tiananmen Square protests, and was published on the protests' twenty-first anniversary. The Critical Moment was characterized by reviewers as largely an attempt to minimize Li's culpability during the most egregious stages of the crackdown; some also say he attempted to shift blame to Deng. He reappeared at the 19th Party Congress on 18 October 2017.
Li died on 22 July 2019 at the age of 90. He had been receiving medical treatment in a hospital in Beijing at the time of his death. His funeral was held on 29 July 2019.