Yang Rudai
Communist Party Chief of Sichuan
In office
February 1983 – April 1993
Preceded byTan Qilong
Succeeded byXie Shijie
Member of the 13th Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party
In office
November 1987 – October 1992
General SecretaryZhao Ziyang
Jiang Zemin
Personal details
BornDecember 1926
Renshou County, Sichuan
DiedFebruary 24, 2018(2018-02-24) (aged 91)
Political partyChinese Communist Party
SpouseTan Xiaoying (谭小英)
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese楊汝岱
Simplified Chinese杨汝岱

Yang Rudai (Chinese: 杨汝岱; Wade–Giles: Yang Ju-tai; December 1926 – 24 February 2018) was a politician of the People's Republic of China (PRC). He served as the Communist Party Chief of Sichuan, then China's most populous province, and was the first native Sichuanese to become the top leader of the province since the founding of the PRC. He was a member of the 13th Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, the top governing body of China.[1] Yang was considered a protégé of the purged reformist leader Zhao Ziyang.

Early life and career

Yang Rudai was born in December 1926 in Renshou County, Sichuan province.[1][2] He received the equivalent of a high school-level education at Ren Shou No. 1 Middle School.[3]

In the early 1950s Yang actively participated in the land reform that was carried out by the newly established People's Republic of China and was rewarded for his performance. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1952, and was promoted just two years later to Deputy Party Chief of Renshou County. During the political radicalization of the 1960s, Yang's humble family background made him a model of the "class line" of the Sichuan provincial chief Li Jingquan, and he was promoted to First Party Secretary of Renshou. However, he subsequently was persecuted due to this tie to Li Jingquan when Li fell from power during the Cultural Revolution.[4]

Rise to prominence

Despite his suffering during the Cultural Revolution, Yang worked hard and took a leadership role in the building of a major reservoir which solved a key irrigation problem. Zhao Ziyang, the new reformist Party Chief of Sichuan, was impressed by his performance and promoted him first to Party Chief of Leshan prefecture in 1977, and only a year later, to Vice Governor of Sichuan province. Yang became a close assistant of Zhao Ziyang.[4]

When Zhao Ziyang left Sichuan to become the Premier of China in 1980, Yang was favoured to succeed him as the provincial chief. However, Tan Qilong, a senior revolutionary leader, was chosen instead to replace Zhao as a transitional leader to "assist" the relatively young Yang Rudai. Yang became one of the several party secretaries of Sichuan under Tan, but he took charge of the daily operation of the province.[4]

Two years later, Tan Qilong retired from politics along with most senior leaders of the revolutionary generation, and Yang Rudai succeeded him to become the first Sichuan native to serve as its top provincial leader.[4] He was also elected to the 12th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party in 1982.[3] In 1987 he rose further to become a member of the 13th Politburo, one of China's top decision-making bodies, which was headed by Yang's old boss Zhao Ziyang as General Secretary.[4]


A man from the countryside with limited education, Yang was a cautious leader who avoided making mistakes or forming political factions. His carefulness attracted criticism that Sichuan did not achieve any breakthrough in reform under his leadership. He clashed with Governor Jiang Minkuan, who made reform proposals that were deemed "unrealistic" by Zhao Ziyang. The tension resulted in Jiang's transfer away from Sichuan.[4]

Jiang was replaced as governor by Zhang Haoruo in 1988, who came from a "princeling" background and enjoyed a close relationship with Premier Li Peng. Yang and Zhang had serious conflicts during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Yang urged the central government to handle the protests peacefully, while Zhang supported the hardline advocated by Li Peng and others.[4] After the imposition of martial law by the central government, Yang changed his position and adopted a harsh policy toward student protesters in Sichuan. Severe conflicts broke out after the arrest of many demonstrators, and the largest shopping center in the provincial capital Chengdu was burned down.[4]

In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests, Zhao Ziyang was purged and placed under house arrest in 1989. Yang, considered a protégé of Zhao, kept his Politburo membership until his term ended. However, he was not reelected into the 14th Politburo in 1992 despite not having reached the retirement age.[5]

Three Gorges Dam

In early 1992, the National People's Congress passed a resolution to build the Three Gorges Dam, the world's biggest. It was projected that at the completion of the dam, Sichuan would lose 503 square kilometres (194 sq mi) of land, and nearly a million people would need to be relocated. Yang Rudai was opposed to the dam and supported Sichuanese deputies who strongly protested the decision at the National Congress.[4] In contrast, Governor Zhang Haoruo resolutely supported the national government's decision. Under strong pressure from Beijing, Yang changed his position and agreed to support the project. In compensation, he negotiated an increase of the central government's investment in Sichuan by 18.5 billion yuan. When the deal was reached, Governor Zhang expressed his support on behalf of Sichuan at a press conference, while Yang remained silent.[4]

After Sichuan

In 1993 Yang was replaced by Xie Shijie as Sichuan party chief, and was transferred to the national level to serve as a Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a largely ceremonial but prestigious post. He served two terms in that position until 2003.[1][3]

In July 2010 Yang published a memoir in the liberal Chinese magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu praising Zhao Ziyang. It marked a rare break of the long-standing taboo in China against mentioning the former leader since he was ousted after the Tiananmen protests.[6]

Personal life

Yang was said to lead a simple private life.[4] At least until 1988, after he became the Party Chief of Sichuan and a Politburo member, his wife Tan Xiaoying (谭小英)[1] was still a contract worker in a small street factory in Chengdu.[4][7]


On 24 February 2018, Yang died in Beijing at the age of 91 (92 in East Asian age reckoning). He was extolled by the Chinese government as "an excellent member of the Communist Party of China, a time-tested and loyal communist soldier, and an outstanding leader in agriculture and the economic development of the country".[8]

Career timeline

Date Position
1993—2003 Vice-Chairman of the 8th and 9th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
1993—1998 Member of the 8th National People's Congress
1987—1992 Member of the 13th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, elected to its politburo
1982—1987 Member of the 12th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party
1983—1993 Secretary of the CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee
1978—1982 Vice-governor of Sichuan province
1978—1982 Member of the CPC Sichuan Provincial and Standing Committees
1977—1978 Secretary of the CPC Leshan Prefectural Committee
1975—1978 Member of the 4th National People's Congress
1952—1968 Secretary of the CPC Renshou County Committee



  1. ^ a b c d 杨汝岱简历 [Biography of Yang Rudai] (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b "Yang Rudai 杨汝岱". China Vitae. Archived from the original on 15 July 2016. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "Yang Rudai, Vice-Chairman of Ninth CPPCC National Committee". People's Daily Online. Archived from the original on 24 November 2003. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Peter T. Y. Cheung; Jae Ho Chung; Chae-ho Chŏng; et al., eds. (1998). Provincial Strategies of Economic Reform in Post-Mao China: Leadership, Politics, and Implementation. M. E. Sharpe. pp. 387–392. ISBN 9780765621498. Archived from the original on 2013-12-31.
  5. ^ Hung-Mao Tien; Yunhan Zhu, eds. (2000). China Under Jiang Zemin. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 39. ISBN 9781555879273. Archived from the original on 2018-02-25.
  6. ^ "Chinese magazine breaks Zhao taboo". The Sydney Morning Herald. 8 July 2010. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  7. ^ Lawrence R. Sullivan (2011). Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Communist Party. Scarecrow Press. p. 294. ISBN 9780810872257. Archived from the original on 2018-02-25.
  8. ^ "Former senior political advisor dies at 92". Xinhua. 2018-02-25. Archived from the original on 2018-02-25.
Party political offices Preceded byTan Qilong Communist Party Chief of Sichuan 1983–1993 Succeeded byXie Shijie