Business / Economy

'Father of rural reform' dies aged 102

By He Na (China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-10 08:09

Du Runsheng, generally honored as China's "father of rural reform", passed away on Friday in Beijing at the age of 102, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Du was the former director of the Administration of the Rural Development Research Center of the State Council. As a well-known economist and the most influential expert on rural issues, Du was one of the key people involved in China's rural reforms in the 1980s.

Du had been in hospital, but he was in stable condition. His condition suddenly worsened on Thursday afternoon and he passed away at 6:20 am on Friday in hospital, Xinhua said.

Du Runsheng, whose former name was Du De, was born on July 18, 1913, in a village in Taigu county, Shanxi province.

He was a military officer and revolutionary leader in the 1930s and 40s, fighting against Japanese aggression.

He joined the Communist Party of China in 1936.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, from 1949 to 1956, Du's work was mainly concerned with rural policy-making.

In 1956 he was appointed deputy Party chief of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Du was persecuted during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), but he survived and, in 1978, returned to his research on rural issues for the next three decades.

Since 1979, Du had served as the heart and soul of China's agriculture reform circle.

He held positions such as deputy director of the National Committee on Agriculture, director of the rural policy research office of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, and director of the Administration of the Rural Development Research Center of the State Council.

Du spent his lifetime researching problems in rural areas.

One of his best-known quotes was: "China's biggest problem is the problems of farmers. And the biggest problem for farmers is the issue of land."

He had suggested many times to the central government that a rural household contract system should be introduced.

Four years after a pilot scheme started in 1978, many of China's farmers became leaseholders of State-owned land.

He participated as the lead member in drafting China's five annual white papers on rural development from 1982-86, each called Document No 1.

They carried the hopes of millions of farmers and focused on their livelihoods and rural development. Du played an important role in promoting the rural household contract system nationwide.

Du also cultivated many students who are now a major force in rural reform and development.

Some well-known names among them include top discipline inspector Wang Qishan; Chen Xiwen, director of the office of Central Rural Work Leading Group; Lin Yifu, former chief economist of the World Bank; and Peking University National Development Research Institute President, Zhou Qiren.

When he was in hospital, former premier Wen Jiabao, Wang Qishan, Chen Xiwen, Du Ying, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission, and many other high ranking officials went to visit him, Southern People Weekly reported.

In 2013, during the Phoenix Financial Summit, Du was given a special award for his work in promoting reform. The award stated that he had given his life to reform, sought welfare for China's 800 million farmers and encouraged many others to use their talents in China's development.

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