Li Shenzhi

b. 1923, Wuxi, Jiangsu
Journalist, liberal intellectual
Li Shenzhi joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1942 and worked at the Xinhua Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, as a news reporter and editor. From 1949 until he was purged as a Rightist in 1958, he was the head of the International Department of the Xinhua News Agency and the chief editor of Cankao ziliao and Cankao xiaoxi—daily newspap ers pro ing foreign news and information for Party and government officials, the former being circulated only among the top Party leaders. During this period, he also served as Zhou Enlai’s secretary and advisor on foreign affairs. In 1956 he advocated ‘great democracy (da minzhu)’ that would expand people’s political rights and allow them a voice in important decisions that concerned the interests of the whole nation.
However, his views were criticized by Mao Zedong as heretical, and he himself was purged as a Rightist during the Anti-Rightist campaign. He was rehabilitated in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping wanted him to serve as his advisor on his trip to the United States. Between 1983 and 1993, Li was the Vice President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He encouraged intellectuals to study the new problems that had surfaced in the course of economic reform and also advocated immediate political reform to ensure the continuity and success of the economic and social transformations. He was sympathetic to the 1989 democratic movement and wrote articles and gave speeches criticizing the government crackdown. After his retirement in 1993, Li has continued to devote himself to political critique and theoretical reflection and has written several widely circulated articles discussing the urgency and necessity of political reform.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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