Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Bo Yibo (1908–2007)

Minister of finance and vice premier of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Born in Dingxiang, Shanxi, on 17 February 1908, Bo Yibo was educated at various universities in Beijing and Hebei. In 1925 he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and became an active participant in the party's student organizations. During the Sino-Japanese War, he fought valiantly in his native province and was rewarded with the directorship of the administrative office of southeastern Shanxi in 1943. During the Chinese Civil War, Bo served as the political commissar of the North China Military Region.

After the establishment of the PRC in October 1949, Bo became responsible for financial and economic affairs. He was first appointed minister of finance and then in 1953 vice chairman of the State Planning Commission. In 1956 he became the PRC's vice premier. In 1959 he was also tasked with the deputy directorship of the State Office of Industry and Communications and assumed the full directorship in 1961, during which he was responsible for the Great Leap Forward program.

In mid-1966, as a result of the ultraleftist Cultural Revolution, Bo was branded as a counterrevolutionary revisionist and purged from office. He was thereafter kept sequestered until December 1978, when he was reappointed as vice premier. During his second vice premiership, he headed several delegations to Canada, the United States, and Japan, reinforcing the freshly hewn Sino-American rapprochement. He also served on the State Financial and Economic Commission, assisting China's new leader, Deng Xiaoping, in reforming the Chinese economy with an emphasis on the uniqueness of Chinese socialism. In mid-1982, Bo became vice minister of the State Commission for Restructuring Economic System and actively engaged in promoting Chinese trade. In early 1988, he retreated from the political front line but still held the vice chairmanship of the Central Advisory Committee, in which capacity he supported Deng's military crackdown on student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989. Bo died of old age in Beijing on 15 January 2007.

Law Yuk-fun


Further Reading
Riskin, Carl Alan. China's Political Economy: The Quest for Development since 1949. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
 

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