Zhu Rongji
--Premier of the State Council

Zhu Rongji has been elected as the fifth premier of the People's Republic of China.

Zhu is well-versed in management of the economy. He is acknowledged as an able economic administrator and is renowned for his pragmatic work style.

Zhu was nominated as premier of the State Council by President Jiang Zemin. The nomination was confirmed on March 17 by the Ninth National People's Congress (NPC) at its first session in Beijing.

Four years of successful macroeconomic controls, with the curbing of inflation as their primary task, have cooled down the overheated Chinese economy enabling it to achieve a "soft landing". The country's healthy economic situation is a rarity in the world at present. With these achievements to his credit, Zhu has now become premier of the State Council, the Chinese cabinet.

Zhu, 69, was born in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. He joined the Communist Party of China in October 1949. After graduation from the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing, where he majored in electrical engineering, he worked for the Northeast China Ministry of Industries as deputy head of its production planning office.

From 1952 to 1958, he worked in the State Planning Commission as group head, deputy director of the minister's office, and deputy section chief.

From 1958 to 1969, Zhu continued to work in the State Planning Commission, as a teacher at a cadre school and an engineer. From 1970 to 1975, he was transferred to work at a "May Seventh Cadre School", a kind of farm for reeducation during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976).

From 1975 to 1979, he served as deputy chief engineer of a company run by the Pipeline Bureau of the Ministry of the Petroleum Industry and director of the Industrial Economics Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. From 1979 to 1982, he worked for the State Economic Commission as division chief and bureau deputy director. He was appointed member of the State Economic Commission in 1982 and vice-minister in charge of the commission in 1983, a post he held until 1987, when he was appointed mayor of Shanghai.

His three years in Shanghai saw tremendous changes in the development and opening-up of Pudong, a Singapore-size area wedged between Shanghai proper and the East China Sea, and the city's telecom, urban construction and transport sectors. He won popular respect and acclaim for these achievements.

In 1991, Zhu became vice-premier of the State Council and director of the State Council Production Office. He focused his attention on tackling tough economic problems in industry, agriculture and finance.

Soon after he came to Beijing from Shanghai, Zhu launched a drive to disentangle the "debt chains" of state enterprises; he took the lead in eliminating IOUs in state grain purchasing, thus benefiting farmers. He served concurrently as governor of the central bank to put the financial system back on its feet. Deng Xiaoping once said that Zhu "has his own views, dares to make decisions and knows economics."

The year 1992 saw runaway investment in fixed assets, an excessive money supply, soaring prices and chaotic financial market. With support from Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, Zhu, as vice-premier and head of the State Council Economic and Trade Office, instituted a series of tough macroeconomic control measures. He began by bringing the runaway money supply under control, laying the foundation for holding down prices. However, Zhu did not advocate overall entrenchment.

While he axed low-tech duplicate projects and sectors that would result in ?a bubble economy? Zhu backed projects in transport, energy, agriculture and sectors that had promising prospects as new areas of economic growth. Thanks to these measures, the Chinese economy has not only avoided violent fluctuations but has also maintained healthy development.

Zhu Rongji has now turned his attention to reforming state enterprises. His concern is also focused on strengthening agriculture as the country's economic base and continuing a moderately tight monetary policy. He faces both opportunities and challenges, observers note. and he has ample room to display his talents.

He upholds the principle of "strict administration". He deports himself in a calm and unhurried manner, but he acts quickly and is decisive in handling affairs. He cannot tolerate a dilatory style of work.

"My criticism is sometimes too severe and that is not good," he once said. "But why do you have to wait until your leader flies into a rage before starting to do your work? It's not that you can't do it, rather that you won't do it."

Zhu also shows his emotional side sometimes. On the 80th anniversary of the founding of Tsinghua University, his Alma Mater, Zhu defied fatigue from a long European visit and rushed to the school to offer his greetings.

Between 1993 and 1995, Zhu served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, vice-premier of the State Council and concurrently governor of the People's Bank of china. Since 1995, he has kept the positions of Standing Committee member and vice-premier. In September 1997, he was re-elected member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Zhu has a good command of English. He is rarely seen speaking from a script. His eloquent speech has always retained the attention of his listeners. Zhu is also a Peking Opera fan.

His wife, Lao An, was once vice-chairman of the board of directors of China International Engineering and Consulting Corp. She and Zhu attended the same school twice, the Hunan First Provincial Middle School and Tsinghua University. They have a son and a daughter.