Ye Xuanping, a Chinese economic reform warrior, dies, aged 94

Jun Mai

Ye Xuanping 1924-2019 Ye Xuanping, the eldest son of one of the founding marshals of the People’s Republic, died in his home province of Guangdong on Tuesday, state broadcaster China Central Television reported. He was 94.

A former governor of the province, Ye was an influential figure in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau affairs, especially from the 1980s to the mid-1990s, when he established extensive ties with officials and business leaders in the region.

Announcing his death, CCTV called Ye “an outstanding member of the Communist Party, a long-tested loyal communist fighter, a proletarian revolutionary and an outstanding leader of China’s economic construction”.

Ye was often credited with spearheading market reforms in Guangdong during his time at the helm of the southern province.

Ye Xuanping attends the funeral of industrialist Ann Tse-kai in Hong Kong in 2000. Photo: David Wong

After ruling the province for almost two decades, he was promoted to vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 1991 and spoke out often about the country’s reforms and policies on Hong Kong and Macau.

Ye’s father, Ye Jianying, one of the 10 founding marshals of the People’s Republic, played a key role in overthrowing the “Gang of Four” in 1976.

The coup effectively ended the Cultural Revolution, a decade of social and political turmoil, and paved the way for late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping’s lauded economic reforms.

Marshal Ye’s role in the political struggle earned him and his family great respect among the “princelings”, or sons and daughters of the first generation of party leaders.

Ye Xuanping was considered a pragmatic follower of Deng and was widely credited as one of the pioneers in Guangdong’s reforms in the 1980s, then on the front line of China’s opening to the outside world.

He built strong ties with tycoons in Hong Kong and Macau. He wrote a foreword to a 1999 biography of Macau gambling magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, and in 2000 took part in the funeral of Ann Tse-kai, a Hong Kong industrialist who played a key role in Hong Kong’s reunification with the mainland in 1997.

Some of the country’s leading political families offered their respects to Ye Xuanping in 2016 when his brother, Ye Xuanning, a former military spy chief, died.

Ye Xuanning: Chinese princeling, military spy wing chief and ‘warm-hearted’ friend

The attendants at Ye Xuanning’s funeral included Xi Yuanping, brother of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Liu Yuan, son of former president Liu Shaoqi, who died during the Cultural Revolution.

The Ye family’s political power has already passed on to the fourth generation. Ye Zhonghao, the 36-year-old grandson of Ye Xuanping, has headed the Yunfu Hi-Tech Industry Development Zone in Guangdong since 2017.

“The Ye family is unique in its influence, especially among overseas Chinese,” said Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political commentator.

“But with the passing of Ye Xuanping, it’s not clear if anyone with political influence will rise in the family.”

This article Ye Xuanping, a Chinese economic reform warrior, dies, aged 94 first appeared on South China Morning Post

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