Zhao Ziyang

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Zhao Ziyang (1919-2005) was a reformist Chinese Communist Party leader. A successful reformist party leader in Guangdong province, he was purged during the Cultural Revolution and forced to work in a factory. Rehabilitated by Zhou Enlai in 1973, he became party chief in Sichuan, where his reforms were seen as a model by Deng Xiaoping. As Deng rose, so did Zhao: in 1980 he replaced the hapless Hua Guofeng as Prime Minister and in this role presided over economic reform and the introduction of market economics to the monolithic socialist economy of China. In 1987 he replaced Hu Yaobang as CCP General Secretary, but he was increasingly unpopular with hard-line communist elements in the leadership, and his failure to control events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 - he entered the square and engaged in dialogue with the pro-democracy protesters, something unheard of for a Chinese leader - cost him the support of Deng. Zhao was the sole Politburo member not to vote for the imposition of martial law which preceded the Tiananmen Square Massacre; he was dismissed from his posts and spent the reminder of his life under house arrest.

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