Wen Jiabao


Wen Jiabao : biography

19 September 1942 –

Second-term Premiership

Wen Jiabao was appointed to a second five-year term as premier on 16 March 2008, leading efforts to cool soaring inflation and showcase the country to the world at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He received fewer votes in favour than he did in 2003, a sign that the premiership can create enemies, even in the mere formalities of China’s electoral system. Wen faced grave economic challenges as the world became increasingly affected by the U.S. economic crisis. Social stability and regional activism in China’s restive hinterland regions also dominated Wen’s policy agenda. On 18 March 2008, during the press conference after the 2008 National People’s Congress, Wen toed the government line in blaming supporters of the Dalai Lama for violence in Tibet, and said Chinese security forces exercised restraint in confronting rioting and unrest in the streets of Lhasa. Wen acted as the spokesman of the Chinese government during the 2008 unrest in Tibet and refused to negotiate with the Dalai Lama and his followers, unless they chose to "give up all separatist activities."

In his final address as China’s prime minister Wen warned of the nation’s growing divisions between rich and poor, the hazards of unchecked environmental degradation and the risks posed by unbalanced economic growth. March 5, 2013 New York Times

Response to 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

In addition, there was speculation on internet forums as well as foreign media about the availability of the scientific prediction of the 2008 earthquake, and Wen was quoted as the only high-ranking Chinese leader to try to announce the scientific prediction and made it public, but was somehow prevented by other members of the Politburo Standing Committee.

2009 NPC

Before the 2009 National People’s Congress convened, on 28 February, Premier Wen Jiabao went online on video chat to answer queries hosted by China’s official government website gov.cn and the official Xinhua News Agency. During the session Wen openly advocated for transparency of the government and remarked that he was somewhat nervous about the occasion. He received a wide range of questions from large numbers of online Chinese netizens and chose to answer selected questions about prominent economic issues, such as global financial breakdown.

At the Congress Wen also passed on a message of reassurance that GDP growth will not dip below 8% in 2009. Wen did not introduce a new stimulus package, and played down speculation that part of the 1.18 trillion RMB central government spending was not going directly into the economy. He also expressed concern about the security of Beijing’s holdings in U.S. treasury debt. In a more unusual gesture, Wen also expressed interest in visiting Taiwan, stating he would "crawl there if [he] could not walk".

Foreign policy

Wen Jiabao has played a prominent role advancing China’s foreign policy positions and has become increasingly visible on the world stage as China’s economic power expanded. He went on an official working visit to North Korea on 4 October 2009, the first time a Chinese Premier has visited North Korea since Li Peng’s visit in 1991. He was greeted at the Pyongyang Airport by ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il. Kim rarely greets foreign dignitaries himself upon their arrival at the airport. Reuters believed this to be a show of solidarity from North Korea and that the country was serious in fostering a good relationship with China. Wen also met with European Union leaders at a China-EU conference in late November 2009, where he refused calls for China to revalue its Yuan and re-examine its foreign exchange regime. Wen remarked in Nanjing that "some countries are on the one hand pressuring China to appreciate its currency while on the other hand they are practising trade protectionism against China in many different forms."

In December, in what was seen as a mild rebuke of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the latter’s working visit to China, Wen stated, "This is your first trip to China and this is the first meeting between the Chinese Premier and the Canadian Prime Minister in almost five years. Five years is too long a time for China Canada relations." However, the interpretation that Wen rebuked Harper was later disputed in select newspaper editorials. Wen also travelled to the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference, where he met with U.S. President Barack Obama twice to secure an 11th-hour non-binding agreement on emissions cuts.

Early life and rise to power

A native of Beichen District, Tianjin, Wen Jiabao went to the Nankai High School from which his predecessor premier Zhou Enlai graduated. He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in April 1965 and entered the work force in September 1967.

Wen has a background in engineering and holds a post-graduate degree from the Beijing Institute of Geology. He studied geomechanics in Beijing and began his career in the geology bureau of Gansu province. From 1968–1978, he presided over the Geomechanics Survey Team under the Gansu Provincial Geological Bureau and head of its political section. Wen succeeded in office, rising as chief of the Gansu Provincial Geological Bureau and later as Vice-minister of Geology and Mineral Resources.

Wen was "discovered" by then-General Secretary Hu Yaobang, and joined the ranks of the Central Committee and Politburo. There was some public speculation after 1989 over whether Wen was closer to Hu Yaobang or Zhao Ziyang, but Wen implicitly confirmed that he was a protégé of Hu by the release of his 2010 article, "Recalling Hu Yaobang when I return to Xingyi".Wu Zhong. . Asia Times. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 26 October 2011. After Wen was promoted to work in Beijing, he served as Chief of the Party’s General Affairs Office, an organ that oversaw day-to-day operations of the party’s leaders. He remained in the post for eight years.

Survival of Tiananmen purge

Wen’s most significant political recovery occurred after accompanying Zhao on his visit to students demonstrating in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Unlike Zhao, who was purged from the party days later for "grave insubordination" and lived under house arrest in Beijing until his death in January 2005, Wen survived the political aftermath of the demonstrations. Wen Jiabao is the only Chief of the Party’s General Affairs Office to have served under three General Secretaries: Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang, and Jiang Zemin.