Li Peng

Li Peng lē pŭng [key], 1928–2019, Chinese Communist leader, premier of China (1988–98), b. Chengdu, Sichuan prov., China. Orphaned at age three when his father was executed by the Kuomintang, Li became the adopted son of Zhou Enlai. A hydroelectric engineer educated at the Moscow Power Institute, he became deputy minister (1979) and then minister (1981) of the power industry. After becoming (1982) a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, he rose to the Politburo and the Party Secretariat in 1985, and the standing committee of the Politburo in 1987, when he also became acting premier. As premier, he declared martial law during the Tiananmen Square protests (May, 1989), which led to the brutal killing of thousands, and was instrumental in the dismissal and arrest (June, 1989) of Zhao Ziyang, the general secretary of the party. More politically orthodox than some of his contemporaries, he favored greater central economic planning and slower economic growth, and championed the Three Gorges Dam. He was chairman of the National People's Congress (speaker of the legislature) from 1998 to 2003.

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