Rui Xingwen, 78; Chinese Propaganda Chief and Party Official

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Rui Xingwen, 78, a former propaganda chief in the Chinese government, who was demoted after the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square, died June 5 of heart failure.

Rui was a reformer who briefly relaxed controls on the news media. He was closely associated with deposed Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang, who was placed under house arrest after sympathizing with students who had occupied the square. Zhao died in January.

Rui, born in the eastern province of Jiangsu in 1927, joined the party in 1945 and spent his early career managing chemical engineering factories. In 1984, he was appointed deputy minister of urban construction, as well as deputy director of the State Planning Commission.


He rose up the party ranks, becoming party secretary of Shanghai in 1985 and joining the Communist Party Central Committee Secretariat in 1987. The following year, he was named vice director of the leading group of the Communist Party Central Committee for Propaganda, and he used his influence to relax media controls.

After the 1989 crackdown, Rui disappeared from public life. In 1991, he briefly reemerged as deputy director of the State Planning Commission -- the same position he had held in 1984.