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People's Daily review of Li Peng memoir hails his 'Yanan spirit'

Ex-premier's children inherited revolutionary virtues, says People's Daily survey of memoir

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 4:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 6:00am

The People's Daily rolled out a lengthy review of former premier Li Peng's autobiography yesterday, saying his children were taught to be self-disciplined and had inherited the virtues of "revolutionary" heroes.

The review comes at a time when the electricity sector, the power base of Li's family, is under intense scrutiny in President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. Several senior energy officials have been placed under investigation on suspicion of graft in the past three months.

Audit teams have also been sent to the nation's two largest electricity grid operators and the Three Gorges Corporation after irregularities were uncovered.

Representatives from most major state-owned power companies attended a promotional event for the book in Beijing on Thursday, the Oriental Morning Express reported.

With only people from the power sector ... it's more like a ... certain interest group
Zhang Ming

The People's Daily review said Li was a "practitioner of the Yanan spirit", referring to the Communist Party's revolutionary base in Shaanxi where he spent five years in the early 1940s. It said he had been very strict in the upbringing of his three children. They were told not to stay out all night, and were given 10 yuan a day to cover living expenses. They were not allowed to borrow money or to accept gifts.

Li had worked his way up to the top in the power sector, starting at a hydropower plant in Jilin province, and became minister of power before being promoted to vice-premier. He was instrumental in building the controversial Three Gorges Dam.

His daughter Li Xiaolin is chairman of China Power International Development International, and his elder son Li Xiaopeng, formerly the president of China Huaneng Group and Huaneng Power, is now the governor of coal-rich Shanxi province.

The review said Li had received support as a young adult from party elders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun, and Deng Xiaoping.

But it also included an anecdote about Li opposing former party secretary Hu Yaobang's policies on hydropower development.

Zhang Ming, a professor of political science at Renmin University, said the review did not necessarily mean Li's book had received support from the entire party leadership.

"With only people from the power sector showing up, it's more like a party of a certain interest group," he said.

Li, now 85, covers events up to 1983 without mentioning the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. Li was premier and declared martial law in Beijing before troops moved into the square.