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Zhao Ziyang Quotes


Zhao Ziyang
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Ziyang Zhao
  • Born: 17th October 1919, Hua County, Henan, China
  • Died: 17th January 2005, Beijing, China
  • Occupation: Politician, statesman and the third Premier of the People's Republic of China
  • Political party: Communist Party of China
  • Best known for: His failed attempt to prevent the Tiananmen Square massacre
  • Book: His memoirs 'Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang' were published in 2009 after they had been secretly smuggled out of the country by sympathisers to his cause
  • Trivia: After the Tiananmen Square massacre Zhao was arrested and placed under house arrest for fifteen years until his death in 2005
  • Scroll down for full bio and many great quotes

"Communists should be the first to be concerned about other people and country and the last to enjoy themselves"

Zhao Ziyang

"While going for economic construction, we must of course hold to the path of socialism. But we have had a lot of muddled ideas about socialism in the past"

Zhao Ziyang

"On the night of June 3, while sitting in the courtyard with my family, I heard intense gunfire. A tragedy to shock the world had not been averted, and was happening after all"

Zhao Ziyang

"In fact, it is the Western parliamentary democratic system that has demonstrated the most vitality. It seems that this system is currently the best one available"

Zhao Ziyang

"Deng had always stood out among the party elders as the one who emphasised the means of dictatorship. He often reminded people about its usefulness"

Zhao Ziyang

"You are still young, we are old, you must live healthy, and see the day when China accomplishes the Four Modernizations"

Zhao Ziyang

"Refusing to accept the decision to crack down with force, I knew what the consequences would be and what treatment I would receive"

Zhao Ziyang

"This is my belief and my last step: As party chief … I have this historical responsibility to persuade Deng Xiaoping, even if he doesn't listen"

Zhao Ziyang

"I knew that if I persistently upheld my view, I would ultimately be compelled to step down"

Zhao Ziyang

"I had no other choice but to express my views to Deng personally, in a face-to-face meeting"

Zhao Ziyang

"While I was expressing my view, Deng appeared very impatient and displeased"

Zhao Ziyang

"Cultural Revolution-style tactics that had been condemned and abandoned long ago were taken up to be used against me"

Zhao Ziyang

"I was determined to eradicate the malady of China’s economic system at its roots"

Zhao Ziyang

"We are already old, we do not matter anymore"

Zhao Ziyang

"I realized that things had already taken a bad turn"

Zhao Ziyang

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Zhao Ziyang Biography

As the curtain closed on the Mao Zedong inspired Cultural Revolution a new revolution was sweeping the country in the form of free market reforms and it was spearheaded by Zhao Ziyang who had many prominent supporters in the upper echelons of the Communist Party of China. Trading has always been part of the essence of China who lay claim to being the oldest living civilisation.



Culture and being civilised is steeped into the DNA of Chinese people who are instinctively drawn to improve themselves through hard work and education. Dignity and respect are two other Chinese traits that exemplify the spirit of a people so rooted in the past that it gives them a base for the future.

Zhao's free market reforms were something that the Chinese people took to in their stride and surprised the world with their explosive economic growth. With their cultural history and aptitude for trade the Chinese were always one or two generations from rising back to their status of a world leading economy, it just needed the right leaders in place to steer the people to do what they have always done innovate and compete.

Zhao Ziyang was that leader with the ideas to put China back on the economic map where it belonged but for all his successes he will always be remembered as the Chinese leader with a good soul who tried to prevent the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. His "we are old, you are young" quote to the students has embellished him into the hearts of the world even though his attempt ended in failure he still tried, full in the knowledge that his actions would be political suicide.

China is well on the way to becoming the worlds largest economy at some point in the 21st century, but I also think how high and how much faster would their growth have been if Zhao had succeeded that day back in Tiananen in 1989. World statesmen often make great one liners, so this is my compilation of 15 of the best Zhao Ziyang quotes.

Quotes About Zhao Ziyang

The journalist Zhang Baolin remembered the importance of his input: "Zhao Ziyang played such a significant role in opening up and reform. Huge progress was made within his time"

The BBC correspondent Kathy Long reported on his removal from Chinese history: "China's Communist Party has spent nearly 30 years trying to erase the events of 4 June 1989 from history and young people here have little knowledge or understanding of what happened that day. The story of Zhao Ziyang is proof those efforts still continue: the man who was the highest ranking Party official in the country at the time of those momentous events is now expunged from the record and, even in death, still regarded as a threat"

Zhao's former personal secretary Bao Tong was praiseful in his words: "Zhao was like a warm spring wind. He listened to the opinions of others and encouraged them to speak out"

The author Jasper Becker described him thus: "Zhao Ziyang was the Gorbachev that China never had, a symbol of the turn that China never took towards creating a democratic, pluralistic state"

His son Zhao Wujun spoke proudly of his father: "If this were to happen all over again, my father would still do the same without hesitation. You have to pay a price for standing by the truth ... and when you have your own moral pursuit, of course you have to pay a price … but he never regretted it"


Zhao Ziyang image quote