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Li Changchun

Li Changchun
Chairman of the CPC Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization
In office
15 November 2002 – 18 January 2013
Deputy Liu Yunshan
Liu Yandong
General Secretary Hu Jintao
Preceded by Ding Guangen
Succeeded by Liu Yunshan
Communist Party Secretary of Guangdong
In office
March 1998 – November 2002
Preceded by Xie Fei
Succeeded by Zhang Dejiang
Personal details
Born February 1944 (age 72)
Dalian, China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Alma mater Harbin Institute of Technology
Li Changchun
Simplified Chinese 李长春
Traditional Chinese 李長春

Li Changchun (born February 1944) is a retired Chinese politician and a former major leader of the Communist Party of China. He served on the Politburo Standing Committee, the Communist Party's top leadership council, and as the top official in charge of propaganda, between 2002 and 2012.[1] He also served as Chairman of the CPC Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization, de facto head of propaganda and media relations. Li had a widely varying political career spanning three provinces, first as Governor of Liaoning, then Party Secretary of Henan, and then Party Secretary of Guangdong, before being promoted to the national leadership in 2002. He retired in 2012.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and career 1.1
    • Guandgong 1.2
    • Politburo Standing Committee 1.3
  • Propaganda Work 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early life and career

Li Changchun was born in February 1944 in modern-day Dalian, Liaoning, then administered by the Empire of Japan as "Dairen", Kwantung Leased Territory. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1965 and graduated with a degree in electrical engineering from the Harbin Institute of Technology in 1966.[2] In 1983, at age 39, he became the youngest mayor and Party secretary of a major city, of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning. In 1982, he was also made an alternate member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China at the age of 38, the youngest member of the body at the time. In 1987, he became governor of Liaoning province, a post he kept until 1990. As governor, mainland China's first expressway was built in the province, linking the cities of Shenyang and Dalian.[3] In addition, Li pushed for the reform of state-owned enterprises, aiming to decrease state involvement in their operations.[4]

After Zhao Ziyang was purged from the party leadership in 1989 during the fallout from the Tiananmen Square protests that same year, Li was initially also thought to have been removed from the leadership because he was a supporter of Zhao. Li's appearance on state television weeks later showed that this was not the case.[5] Li served briefly as the Party chief in the agricultural province of Henan in the 1990s,[3] but his tenure was seen as mediocre. Rural incomes remained stagnant during his term, and his government was also blamed in a scandal involving tainted blood which led to the spread of AIDS in the province.[6]


Li was promoted to the Politburo of the Communist Party of China in 1997, largely due to having secured the patronage of Jiang Zemin.[7] In 1998, Jiang dispatched Li to serve as Guangdong Party Secretary. It was said that Jiang wanted to use Li as a counterbalance to the entrenched local political establishment composed mostly of people native to the province. In Guangdong, Li cracked down on corruption to "put the house in order."[8] In the wake of the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997-98, Li set up a special task force to evaluate what to do with non-performing loans owed by two of the province's largest financial companies. He appointed former central bank deputy governor Wang Qishan to oversee the task force. Li shook up the local banking sector and closed a plethora of local credit unions and agencies.[7] He also increased access to the legal aid system for the poor in the province.[7] His tenure in Guangdong was seen as largely successful, having averted the brunt of the Asian Financial Crisis and also bringing Guangdong back to the political control of the central leadership under Jiang Zemin.[7]

Li's tenure in Guangdong made him one of Jiang's favourites and as such Jiang was preparing to groom him for succession for the premiership upon incumbent Premier Zhu Rongji's scheduled retirement in 2003.[7] However, Zhu had been favouring Wen Jiabao for the Premier office, and criticized Li over his handling of an "export rebate fraud" scandal in the coastal city of Shantou in 2000, which took place during Li's term as Guangdong party chief.[9] Li's intention to promote Huang Liman, a female friend of Jiang's who was considered incompetent, to the party chief position in the coastal city of Shenzhen became a sticking point for Jiang's political opponents.[9]

Politburo Standing Committee

As expected, Li was named a member of the

Party political offices
Preceded by
Hou Zongbin
Secretary of the CPC Henan Committee
Succeeded by
Ma Zhongchen
Preceded by
Xie Fei
Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Committee
Succeeded by
Zhang Dejiang
Preceded by
Ding Guangen
Chairman of the CPC Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization
Succeeded by
Liu Yunshan
Leader of the Leading Group for Propaganda and Ideological Work
Political offices
Preceded by
Quan Shuren
Governor of Liaoning
Succeeded by
Yue Qifeng
Preceded by
Cheng Weigao
Governor of Henan
Succeeded by
Ma Zhongchen
Preceded by
Lin Xiao
Chairman of the Henan People's Standing Congress
Succeeded by
Ren Keli
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Jia Qinglin
Conference Chairman
5th Rank of the Communist Party of China
17th Politburo Standing Committee
Succeeded by
Xi Jinping
Vice President
Preceded by
Wu Guanzheng
Discipline Secretary
8th Rank of the Communist Party of China
16th Politburo Standing Committee
Succeeded by
Luo Gan
Political and Legislative
  • Li Changchun biography, China Vitae
  • biography of Li Changchun People Daily

External links

  1. ^ "#19: Li Changzhun". The World's Most Powerful People ( 
  2. ^ "Li Changchun".  
  3. ^ a b "Li Changchun". China's Leaders ( 
  4. ^ Nathan and Gilley, p. 114
  5. ^ Kristof, Nicholas (14 June 1989). "TURMOIL IN CHINA; Moderates Appear on Beijing TV, Easing Fears of Wholesale Purge". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Nathan, Andrew, J.; Gilley, Bruce (2002). "China's New Rulers: Secret Files" (PDF). p. 114. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Nathan & Gilley (2002), p. 115
  8. ^ Escobar, Pepe (2005-01-25). "'"Guangdong, the unstoppable 'world's factory. Sinoroving ( 
  9. ^ a b c Andrew Nathan, Bruce Gilley, "China's New Rulers: The Secret Files; Second, Revised Edition," New York Review of Books, Oct 31, 2003, pp. 120-121
  10. ^ Tien, Hung-mao; Zhu, Yunghan (2000). China under Jiang Zemin. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 25.  
  11. ^ Kahn, Joseph (22 October 2011). "Politburo in China Gets Four New Members". New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Shirk, Susan. "China: Fragile Superpower: How China's Internal Politics Could Derail Its Peaceful Rise," Oxford University Press, Apr 16, 2007, p. 94
  13. ^ "Briefly: Journalists are urged to hew to party line - Asia - Pacific - International Herald Tribune". New York Times. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Ian (4 April 2011). "CULTURE AND CONTROL; At China's Grand New Museum, History Toes the Party Line". New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  15. ^ Kahn, Joseph (24 December 2007). "Chinese Unveil Mammoth Arts Center". New York Times. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  16. ^ Barboza, David (29 August 2008). "Chinese Extravaganza Uses Valley as a Backdrop". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 
  17. ^ Wong, Edward (22 May 2009). "Showing the Glimmer of Humanity Amid the Atrocities of War". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2011. 


Li has put his support behind a number of creative projects that might otherwise have been censored by the government. He supported Zen Shaolin, a music, dance and martial arts show intended to increase tourism that opened in 2007 in Henan, despite the producers concerns that a celebration of religion and sacred music would be opposed by the government.[16] Li allowed a 2009 movie Nanking! Nanking! by Lu Chuan to continue running in theaters in the face of strong pressure from nationalists who objected to the sympathetic characterization in the film of a Japanese soldier. The film was one of ten chosen to help commemorate 60 years of Communist rule.[17]

In his position as China's propaganda chief from 2002 to 2012, Li was said to have contributed heavily to China's censorship campaign and frequently ordered media to downplay or not report on certain events. In 2006, he told the members of the All-China Journalists Association to "closely encircle the overall work of the party and state".[13] Li approved the construction of the National Museum in 2006 after a series of disputes and delays about the building of the museum.[14] He was the guest of honor at the opening of the National Center for the Performing Arts.[15]

Propaganda Work

There were high hopes among some in media circles that Li would signal a more liberal change from the strictures of former propaganda chief Ding Guangen. Li had made a major speech advocating that media stay "close to the public" and to real events, "instead of mechanically following Party directives."[12] In addition, Li was also seen as a leading reformer due to his legacy in Guangdong, where he was not afraid to take on entrenched interests and introduce further market economic reforms. The hopes were short-lived however, though, after the Central Propaganda Department began closing newspapers, firing journalists, and would not allow foreign companies to produce content for TV stations in China. Many editors were punished and Li Changchun "started sounding and acting like another Ding Guangen."[12]

Li was the first propaganda chief to preside over the growth of the internet in China, and as a result was largely seen as having been the forerunner in developing the internet censorship regime that became increasingly extensive over the course of his tenure. In October 2007, at the 17th Party Congress, it was announced that Li, then aged 63 (below the unofficial age of retirement for PSC members, 67), would serve another term as propaganda chief.[11] In addition, Li was elevated from eight position in the protocol sequence to fifth, in front of Hu Jintao's putative successor Xi Jinping.


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