Wen Jiabao


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(b. Tianjin, Sept. 1942)

Chinese; Vice-Premier, People's Republic of China 1998–2003, Premier 2003–  Wen joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) while he was a student in Beijing studying geology, graduating ahead of the Cultural Revolution. From 1968 until 1982 he worked in the Gansu Provincial Geological Bureau and then returned to Beijing to work in the Ministry of Geology. In 1985 he became Deputy Director of the General Office of the CCP and the following year became its Director. In 1993 he became a member of the Secretariat of the CCP. As a party official he worked with Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang and Jiang Zemin. In 1989 he went to Tiananmen Square with Zhao Ziyang, an act regarded as supporting the demonstrators. Zhao was quickly purged but Wen's reputation in the party survived. Regarded as a technocrat and able administrator, he was appointed a Vice-Premier by Premier Zhu Rongji in 1998, with particular responsibilities for reforming the agricultural sector which was lagging behind the general economic growth of China. In 2003 he was selected as Premier and was reappointed in 2008. In government he was more consensual that Zhu and his style was more populist, frequently travelling the country to see for himself how things were for the people. This skill became more widely recognized after the Sichuan earthquake in 2008, where his quick response and compassion for victims was seen round the world. The effects of the global downturn will challenge him. Early in 2009 he announced a $586 billion injection of funds into the economy. With growth slowing, unemployment among migrant workers rose rapidly, reaching about 20 million in February 2009, and concerns were expressed that a serious further economic downturn could produce social unrest in China. His ability to avoid this will be globally of great importance.

Subjects: Politics.

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