Wen Jiabao () (born September 1942) is the Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China. He serves as a member of its Leading Party Members' Group and Secretary of the Financial Work Committee of the CPC Central Committee. Since taking office in 2003, Wen, ranked third in the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China hierarchy, has been a key part of the fourth generation of leadership in the Communist Party of China.
A native of Tianjin, Wen Jiabao was born in September 1942, joined in the famous Nankai High School from where the ex-premier Zhou Enlai graduated. He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in April 1965 and began working in September 1967.
A postgraduate and engineer, Wen graduated from the specialty of geological structure of Beijing Institute of Geology . Having studied geomechanics in Beijing, he began his career in the Gansu geology bureau; from 1968-1978, he presided over the Geomechanics Survey Team under the Gansu Provincial Geological Bureau and head of its political section. Rising as chief of the Gansu Provincial Geological Bureau and later as minister for the natural resources sector of the economy, Wen would rise through the ranks of the Politburo Central Committee in the 1980s and 1990s. Wen's move from Gansu to Beijing occurred while the party, then under the leadership of General Secretary Hu Yaobang, was conducting a talent search; Wen was quickly promoted to serve as the deputy in the Party's Central Office. He remained in the post for eight years.
Wen Jiabao is the only Standing Committee member to have served under three party secretaries: Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang, and Jiang Zemin. A political survivor, his most significant recovery was after 1989, when Wen
was the head assistant to General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. He accompanied then-Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang to Tiananmen Square. Zhao was purged from the party days later for "grave insubordination" and lived under house arrest in Beijing until his death in January 2005. Unlike his mentor, Wen was able to politically survive the aftermath of the demonstrations.
During a political career dating back to 1965, Wen has built a network of patrons. During that time Wen, a strong administrator and technocrat, has earned a reputation for meticulousness, competence, and a focus on tangible results. Outgoing Premier Zhu Rongji showed his esteem for Wen by entrusting him, from 1998, with the task of overseeing agricultural, financial and environmental policies, considered crucial as China prepared to enter the World Trade Organization.
Wen Jiabao meeting with Chinese farmers in the rural interior
As premier, Wen has overseen China's economic reforms and has been involved in shifting national goals from economic growth at all costs to growth which also emphasizes more egalitarian distribution of wealth, along with other social goals, such as public health and education. In addition, the Chinese government under Wen has begun to focus on the social costs of economic development, which includes damage to the environment and to worker's health. This more comprehensive definition of development has been encapsulated into the idea of a xiaokang society.
Wen's broad range of experience and expertise, especially cultivated while presiding over agricultural policies under Zhu Rongji has been important as the "fourth generation" seeks to revitalize the rural economy in regions left out by the past two decades of reform.
Regarded as being quiet and unassuming, he is said to be a good communicator and is known as a "man of the people". Wen has appeared to make great efforts to reach out those who seem left out by two decades of stunning economic growth in rural and especially Western China. Unlike Jiang Zemin and his protégés on the Politburo Standing Committee, who form the so-called "Shanghai clique", both Wen and Hu hail from, and have cultivated their political bases in, the vast Chinese interior. Many have noted the contrasts between Wen and Hu, "men of the people" and Jiang Zemin, the flamboyant, multilingual, and urbane former mayor of the country's most cosmopolitan city. Jiang, unlike the more reserved Hu and Wen, is known to quote maxims from Chinese and Western philosophy and recite poetry in many languages.
Like President Hu Jintao, whose purported brilliance and photographic memory have facilitated his meteoric rise to power, Wen is regarded as being well-equipped to preside over a vast bureaucracy in the world's most populated and perhaps rapidly changing nation. In March 2003, the usually self-effacing Wen was quoted as saying, "The former Swiss ambassador to China once said that my brain is like a computer," he said. "Indeed, many statistics are stored in my brain."
Mild-tempered and conciliatory, especially compared to his predecessor, the tough, straight-talking Zhu Rongji, his consensual management style has enabled him to generate a great deal of good will and little hostility in Beijing.
Wen has been involved in a two major episodes involving public health. In early 2003, he was involved in ending official inaction over SARS. In November 2003, he became the first major Chinese official to publicly address the problem of AIDS, which has devastated parts of the provinces of Yunnan and Henan and threatens to be a major burden on Chinese development. Since May 2004, Wen made various visits to communities devastated by AIDS. By showing these actions, Wen appeared to be attempting to reverse years of actions which many activists have seen as a policies of denial and inaction. Furthermore, Wen is concerned about the health and safety of previous drug addicts; since March 2004, Wen had visited several drug addicts treatment facitilies in southern China and addressed the issue to the patients in person.
Wen's many visits to relatively poor areas of China's countryside was done randomly -- to avoid elaborate preparations to appease officials and hide the real situation, which is done often in China. At committee meetings of the State Council, Wen made it clear that the rural wealth problem must be addressed. Along with President Hu Jintao, a plan of Three Nong's was made. Like his predecessor, Zhu Rongji, Wen is generally seen as a popular communist official with China's public.
Wen is also seen by many as an able diplomat. In December 2003, Wen visited the United States of America for the first time. During the trip, Wen was able to get President George W. Bush to issue what many saw as a mild rebuke to the President of the Republic of China, Chen Shui-bian.
On 15th March 2005, after the anti-secession law was passed, by a majority of 2,896 to nil, with two abstentions by the National People's Congress, Wen famously said: "We don't hope for foreign intervention, but we are not afraid of it." That earned him a long round of applause that was rare even by Chinese standards.