CCTV Tower Beijing

Gu Mu: Revolutionary Thinker, Organiser and Technocrat

Retail Price: £15.00/$25

Gu Mu was a major figure in the transformation of China’s economy following the death of Mao Zedong, making a huge contribution in implementing Deng Xiaoping’s policies of reform and opening up in the 1980s.

Born into a common peasant family in Shandong province, Gu Mu excelled at school and joined the Communist Party in 1932 aged 17. He would remain loyal to the party for the remainder of his long life. He moved to Beijing and soon immersed himself in revolutionary activities, changing his name to protect family members. In keeping with his scholarly excellence, one of his first jobs with the party was to restore the league of left-wing writers in Beijing and to co-found the party-affiliated magazine Foam.

After the founding of the PRC in 1949, he took on a number of important positions in developing China’s economy, before being persecuted during the Cultural Revolution. Even while being ‘struggled against’ by day, he worked through the night to try to minimise the damage inflicted on the economy by ‘leftist’ excesses at that time.

Rehabilitated in 1973, he rapidly made up for lost time, initially working closely under Liu Shaoqi’s supervision to manage port construction work, which was vital for the country’s future economic success. In erecting and administering the special economic zones (SEZs) and other economic and investment areas, and in attracting foreign capital and reforming China’s entire system of foreign trade, Gu Mu did enormous work.

In the mid-1970s, Gu Mu was tasked by Deng Xiaoping with the job of strengthening China’s railway network, another weak link in the nation’s infrastructure.

Around that time, he also identified problems with steel production and documented them in a report to the state council. Never one to identify a problem without looking for a solution, he then immersed himself in the measures needed to sort out the steel industry. His recommendations were fully endorsed by the central authorities.

He was instrumental in turning Shenzhen from a fishing village into China’s first SEZ and led the first formal delegation to Western Europe after the Cultural Revolution. He served as vice-premier of the country between 1975 and 1982. His contribution to developing the logistical and industrial infrastructure underpinning China’s reform and opening up cannot be overstated. A pragmatic, methodical technocrat par excellence, he always kept his mind focused on the job in hand regardless of the political twists and turns going on around him.

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