Student crisis set high-flier soaring

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 May, 1996, 12:00am

Vice-Premier Li Lanqing owes his meteoric rise in politics to an opportunity to display his crisis management skills during a small-scale student incident in 1987, a political analyst said.

He was then vice-minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation.

A student at the Foreign Economics and Trade University, administered by the ministry, was beaten to death by gangsters in the university's canteen, sparking a demonstration by students.

Officials at the higher ranks of the party were impressed by Mr Li, who calmed the furious students and prevented the incident from escalating.

'It was a decisive turning point in Mr Li's political career,' the analyst said.

He was then promoted to head the ministry in 1991.

Having since become Vice-Premier and a Politburo member, Mr Li has earned worldwide respect with his innovative approach.

His portfolio includes education, foreign trade and fighting smuggling.

More national resources are being given to education after his continuous effort to lobby on behalf of the sector.

One of his widely acclaimed policies was the promotion of 'foundation education' which was aimed at the overall development of students, rather than the 'examination-oriented' education policy of the past.

'This is how he has gained the intellectuals' support,' the analyst said.