A report on Paramount leader and Zhao Ziyang

Zhao (top left) pictured with Mao Zedong in Wuhan, January 1966
Zhao was hosted by US president Ronald Reagan at the White House on 10 January 1984 as part of a broader effort to improve China's relations with the West.
No. 6 Fuqiang Hutong, where Zhao lived
Zhao Ziyang's final burial site in 2019, with his son on the right.

In 1985, for example, the CCP General Secretary was Hu Yaobang, the Chinese President was Li Xiannian and the Chinese Premier was Zhao Ziyang.

- Paramount leader

After ousting Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader" in 1978, Deng Xiaoping recognized the "Sichuan Experience" as a model for Chinese economic reform.

- Zhao Ziyang

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Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)

Deng Xiaoping

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Deng Xiaoping at age 16, studying in France (1921)
Deng's name is spelled Teng Hi Hien on this employment card from the Hutchinson shoe factory in Châlette-sur-Loing, France, where he worked on two occasions as seen from the dates, eight months in 1922 and again in 1923 when he was fired after one month, with the bottom annotation reading "refused to work, do not take him back"
Deng Xiaoping in NRA uniform, 1937
Deng with Liu Bocheng (right)
Deng Xiaoping with He Long (middle) and Zhu De (right) (1949)
Deng Xiaoping (left) met with the 14th Dalai Lama (right) in 1954
Deng Xiaoping (left) with future president Li Xiannian (center) and Premier Zhou Enlai in 1963
Deng Xiaoping (centre) with U.S. president Gerald Ford (left), 1975
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Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right)
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lizhi Park, Shenzhen, one of China's first special economic zones and is regarded as China's Silicon Valley
A model reconstruction of Deng Xiaoping's 1984 meeting with UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Shenzhen
A patrol boat in use during Deng Xiaoping's southern tour of 1992
Deng Xiaoping's ashes lie in state in Beijing whose banner reads "Memorial Service of Comrade Deng Xiaoping", February 1997
Statue of Deng Xiaoping in Shenzhen
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Shenzhen, Guangdong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Qingdao, Shandong
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Dujiangyan, Sichuan
Deng Xiaoping billboard in Lijiang, Yunnan

Deng Xiaoping (22 August 1904 – 19 February 1997), also known by his courtesy name Xixian (希贤), was a Chinese revolutionary leader, military commander and statesman who served as the paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from December 1978 to 1992.

However, he remained as the chairman of the State and Party's Central Military Commission and still being seen as the Paramount Leader of China rather than the then General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and then President Li Xiannian and Yang Shangkun.

Chinese Communist Party

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Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Founding and sole ruling party of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Site of the first CCP Congress, in the former Shanghai French Concession
Flag of the HistoryChinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army
Mao Zedong declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China on 1 October 1949.
Chinese communists celebrate Joseph Stalin's birthday, 1949.
A temporary monument displayed in Changsha, Hunan Province, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CCP's founding
A monument dedicated to Karl Marx (left) and Friedrich Engels (right) in Shanghai
A billboard advertising Xi Jinping Thought in Shenzhen, Guangdong
The 18th National Congress, convened in November 2012
Front cover of the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party
Xi Jinping (second from left) with Enrique Peña Nieto (second from right), the former President of Mexico and a leading member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party
Badge given to party members

Because of these posts, the party leader is seen as the country's paramount leader.

Deng, alongside Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, spearheaded the "reform and opening-up" policies, and introduced the ideological concept of socialism with Chinese characteristics, opening China to the world's markets.

Cultural Revolution propaganda poster. It depicts Mao Zedong, above a group of soldiers from the People's Liberation Army. The caption reads, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought."

Cultural Revolution

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Sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until his death in 1976.

Sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China launched by Mao Zedong in 1966, and lasting until his death in 1976.

Cultural Revolution propaganda poster. It depicts Mao Zedong, above a group of soldiers from the People's Liberation Army. The caption reads, "The Chinese People's Liberation Army is the great school of Mao Zedong Thought."
People in the countryside working at night to produce steel during the Great Leap Forward
The purge of General Luo Ruiqing solidified the Army's loyalty to Mao.
Mao waved to the "revolutionary masses" on the riverside before his "swim across the Yangtze"
A struggle session of Wang Guangmei, the wife of Liu Shaoqi.
Mao Zedong and Lin Biao surrounded by rallying Red Guards in Beijing. Source: China Pictorial
Tiananmen Square on September 15, 1966, the occasion of Chairman Mao's third of eight mass rallies with Red Guards in 1966. Source: China Pictorial
The remains of Ming Dynasty Wanli Emperor at the Ming tombs. Red Guards dragged the remains of the Wanli Emperor and Empresses to the front of the tomb, where they were posthumously "denounced" and burned.
The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked by Red Guards in November 1966.
Anti-Liu Shaoqi rally
Propaganda oil painting of Mao during the Cultural Revolution (1967)
Marshal Lin Biao was constitutionally confirmed as Mao's successor in 1969.
Graffiti with Lin Biao's foreword to Mao's Little Red Book, Lin's name (lower right) was later scratched out, presumably after his death.
Jiang Qing (left), who was the wife of Mao Zedong and a member of the Gang of Four, received the Red Guards in Beijing with Premier Zhou Enlai (center) and Kang Sheng. They were all holding the Little Red Book (Quotations from Mao) in their hands.
Jiang Qing
Deng Xiaoping became the paramount leader of China in 1978. He started "Boluan Fanzheng" that brought the country back to order, and initiated China's historic Reforms and Opening up.
A struggle session of Xi Zhongxun, the father of Xi Jinping (September 1967). Xi Zhongxun was labelled as an "anti-Party element". However, since late 2012, Xi Jinping and his allies have attempted to play down the disaster of the Cultural Revolution and reversed many reforms since the Boluan Fanzheng period, sparking concerns of a new Cultural Revolution.
Quotations of Mao Zedong on a street wall of Wuxuan County, one of the centers of Guangxi massacre and cannibalism during the Cultural Revolution.
The Cultural Revolution Cemetery in Chongqing, China. At least 1,700 people were killed during the violent faction clash, with 400 to 500 of them buried in this cemetery.
The Tibetan Panchen Lama during a struggle session.
Struggle session of Sampho Tsewang Rigzin and his wife during the Cultural Revolution.
A 1968 map of Beijing showing streets and landmarks renamed during the Cultural Revolution. Andingmen Inner Street became "Great Leap Forward Road", Taijichang Street became the "Road for Eternal Revolution", Dongjiaominxiang was renamed "Anti-Imperialist Road", Beihai Park was renamed "Worker-Peasant-Soldier Park" and Jingshan Park became "Red Guard Park." Most of the Cultural Revolution-era name changes were later reversed.
Yao Tongbin, one of China's foremost missile scientists, was beaten to death by a mob in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution (1968). This caused Zhou Enlai to order special protection for key technical experts.
Remnants of a banner containing slogans from the Cultural Revolution in Anhui.
The ballet The Red Detachment of Women, one of the Model Dramas promoted during the Cultural Revolution.
Posters from the Cultural Revolution period
Buddhist statues defaced during the Cultural Revolution.
The central section of this wall shows the faint remnant marks of a propaganda slogan that was added during the Cultural Revolution, but has since been removed. The slogan read "Boundless faith that in Chairman Mao."

In December 1978, Deng Xiaoping became the new paramount leader of China, replacing Chairman Hua Guofeng, and started the "Boluan Fanzheng" program which gradually dismantled the Maoist policies associated with the Cultural Revolution, and brought the country back to order.

In September, Hua Guofeng resigned and Zhao Ziyang, another Deng ally, was named Premier of China.

Jiang in December 2002

Jiang Zemin

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Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Chinese retired politician who served as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2002, as Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989 to 2004, and as President of the People's Republic of China from 1993 to 2003.

Jiang in December 2002
Graduation photo of Jiang, taken in 1947.
Jiang in 1962
Jiang Zemin with U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Jiang Zemin with his wife and George W. Bush with his wife in Crawford, Texas, 25 October 2002.
Jiang Zemin's inscription engraved on a stone in his hometown, Yangzhou

Jiang came to power unexpectedly as a compromise candidate following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, when he replaced Zhao Ziyang as CCP General Secretary after Zhao was ousted for his support for the student movement.

As the involvement of the "Eight Elders" in Chinese politics steadily declined, Jiang consolidated his hold on power to become the "paramount leader" in the country during the 1990s.

Hu Yaobang in 1986

Hu Yaobang

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High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

High-ranking official of the People's Republic of China.

Hu Yaobang in 1986
Hu Yaobang at Yan'an in the 1930s
Hu Yaobang and his wife Li Zhao
Hu Yaobang, Zhu De, and Liao Chengzhi at the National Youth Congress in 1953 (left to right)
(from left) Zhao Ziyang, Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng at Hu Yaobang's memorial service in the Great Hall of the People, on 22 April 1989
Hu Yaobang's Former Residence.
Hu's Statue in his hometown Liuyang

Hu's position as Party general secretary was taken by Zhao Ziyang, who continued many of Hu's economic and political reforms.

Hu Yaobang's rise to power was engineered by Deng Xiaoping, and Hu rose to the highest levels of the Party after Deng displaced Hua Guofeng as China's "paramount leader".

Li in 1954

Li Xiannian

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Chinese Communist military and political leader, President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state) from 1983 to 1988 under Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and then Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1988 until his death.

Chinese Communist military and political leader, President of the People's Republic of China (de jure head of state) from 1983 to 1988 under Paramount Leader Deng Xiaoping and then Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference from 1988 until his death.

Li in 1954
Li in 1985
Li in the People's Liberation Army during the Civil War (1946)
Li as Vice Premier in August 1974, visiting Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania
Li with his wife Lin Jiamei and Ronald Reagan (1985)

Li played a key role in blocking privatizations and maintaining state control in many sectors of the economy, promoted classical Communist political and cultural values through his patronage of theorists such as Hu Qiaomu and Deng Liqun, and was instrumental in purging liberals Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang.

If Hua had been successful in his efforts to achieve supreme power, Li would have become one of the most powerful officials in China, but Li's political career stalled when Deng Xiaoping eclipsed Hua as China's "Paramount leader".

Mao Zedong

History of the People's Republic of China

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The history of the People's Republic of China details the history of mainland China since 1 October 1949, when Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) from atop Tiananmen, after a near complete victory (1949) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War.

The history of the People's Republic of China details the history of mainland China since 1 October 1949, when Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China (PRC) from atop Tiananmen, after a near complete victory (1949) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War.

Mao Zedong
People were required to produce more steel during the Great Leap Forward.
Red Guards on Tiananmen Square during the Cultural Revolution (1967).
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Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter at the arrival ceremony for the Vice Premier of China.
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Xiamen, one of the first special economic zones of China.
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Zhao Ziyang, a leading reformist, was assigned by Deng to take charge of the political reforms since 1986. However, he was forced to leave his position as the General Secretary of CCP after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, while the majority of the planned political reforms (after 1986) ended drastically.
The 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, which was ended by a military-led massacre.
Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter in 1979.
Jiang Zemin
On 10 November 2001, the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Doha approved China's entry into the WTO.
Hu Jintao
The 2008 Beijing Olympics
Xi Jinping
The 2019 Hong Kong protests

The paramount leaders have been Mao Zedong (1949-1976); Hua Guofeng (1976-1978); Deng Xiaoping (1978-1989); Jiang Zemin (1989-2002); Hu Jintao (2002-2012); and Xi Jinping (2012 to present).

Deng's allies such as Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang also received promotions.