Wan Li, former chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, died at the age of 99 in Beijing at 12:55 p.m. on July 15, according to a statement from the central authorities.
In an obituary jointly issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, NPC Standing Committee, State Council and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Wan was praised as an “excellent Party member, a time-tested and loyal communist soldier, and an outstanding proletarian revolutionist, statesman and leader of the Party and the state.”
He also served as secretary of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and vice premier.
Born in 1916 in Shandong, Wan joined the CPC in 1936. He made important contribution for the victory against Japanese aggressors in Hebei, Shandong and Henan provinces, and his work contributed in the War of Liberation, the obituary said.
After the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, Wan assumed a number of positions, including head of the urban construction ministry and deputy mayor of Beijing.
During his work as a Beijing municipal official, Wan assisted then Premier Zhou Enlai in preparing for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of New China and completed the construction of the Great Hall of the People within one year.
Wan suffered serious persecution during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), but resumed work in 1973 and became a senior Party official of Beijing municipal CPC committee. He urged proper planning, construction and management of the city with insightful ideas on environmental protection and pollution control.
After he became railways minister in 1975, Wan resolutely supported and implemented the ideas of Deng Xiaoping regarding an overhaul of the railway system and greatly improved the chaotic situation within the system.
In 1977, he became the local Party Chief in east China’s Anhui province, where he used his “extraordinary political courage” and gave huge support to the contractual household responsibility system -- a practice once regarded to be illegal but secretly done by local farmers to resist the egalitarian agricultural system and raise grain production.
These efforts greatly contributed to paving a new path for rural reform, said the obituary, hailing the rural reform Wan led in Anhui as a major breakthrough in the rural economic system, and an arduous and successful trial for the socialist economic system.
Wan took the position of chairman of the NPC Standing Committee in 1988.
He stressed improving socialist democracy as the legislature’s core mission and urged institutionalization and legalization of socialist democratic politics through step-by-step reform.
Wan paid great attention to the legislation work to back up the reform and opening up drive and safeguard a socialist market economy.
He stood firm in maintaining unity of the Party and the country and in safeguarding social order and tranquility.
According to the decisions of the 14th CPC National Congress and the needs of the reform and opening up, Wan in 1992 proposed amendments to the country’s Constitution. He led the drafting of the amendment which was eventually passed at the top legislature in March 1993. In the same month, Wan retired from his top legislature post.
The obituary said that Wan has been faithful to the CPC, the people and the communist cause throughout his life and has always been confident in the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
“His death is a great loss for our Party and our country,” read the obituary.
The document further urged people to learn from Wan’s spirit and called for more unity in carrying out the strategic layout of the “Four Comprehensives” to strive for national rejuvenation.