Vice premier and foreign minister of the People's Republic of China (PRC). Born on 19 December 1921 in Shanghai, Jiangsu Province, Wu Xueqian enrolled at the Jinan University in 1939, where he joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Throughout the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, he lived in Shanghai, where he engaged in student underground work. He went on to serve the new PRC as deputy director of the International Liaison Department of the New Democratic Youth League of the CCP's Central Committee until 1953. Shortly thereafter, he became director of the International Liaison Department and simultaneously retained membership in both the New Democratic Youth League and the National Committee of the Federation of Democratic Youth. He held these posts until the mid-1960s, during which time he led a number of youth delegations abroad to foster closer ties among the PRC and other socialist nations as well Asian and African nations.
In 1967, as a result of the Cultural Revolution, Wu was relieved of all of his posts and was forced into private life. In early 1978 he reemerged publicly and resumed his former position in the International Liaison Department. From May 1982 to April 1988 he served as the PRC's foreign minister, during which time he accompanied PRC leaders on visits abroad, notably to Western Europe and North America. He also reinforced the Sino-American rapprochement begun by his predecessor. In April 1988 he became vice premier and continued his efforts to boost China's international standing. He relinquished the vice premiership in March 1993, although he retained his membership in the CCP Central Committee and Politburo, where he continues to serve.
Meisner, Maurice J. Mao's China and After: A History of the People's Republic. New York: Free Press, 1999.