Li Yuanchao

Li Yuanchao 李源潮

China’s Vice President


As Vice President has a role in Foreign Affairs.

Li Yuanchao


Pronunciation: Lee Yoo-ahn-chow (as in how) soundbite
Born: 1950. A princeling, both parents revolutionary veterans, father was vice-mayor of Shanghai.
Education: Long periods of study. Doctorate in law from the Central Party School. Attended a leadership course at Harvard University in 2002.
Career: Politburo Member. Previously Head of the hugely powerful Organization Department, which controls 70+ million appointments to Party positions until 2012.
Prospects: Vice-President (a largely symbolic post). May lose this position to Wang Qishan in 2017/18.
Relevance to Tibet: In 2012 addressed a UFWD conference on Tibet. Will meet many foreign leaders.

Standing in the Party and Career Highlights:

A “sent-down” youth in Jiangsu Province, Li joined the CCP in 1978. Li studied on and off – full and part-time – (mathematics and later law) from at least 1972 to 1998, culminating in a doctoral degree in law from the Central Party School. He pursued mid-career training at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University (2002).

His political career, which progressed despite part-time study included periods as Deputy Secretary and Secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth League in Shanghai before becoming Secretary of the Secretariat of the CCYL Central Committee from 1983 to 1993.

After stints in the Information Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Culture, Li transferred to Jiangsu Province in 2000, becoming Party Secretary in 2003 until 2007. He joined the Politburo in 2007 when he took up position as Head of the enormously powerful Organization Department.

Cheng Li writes that Li is widely considered to be a protégé of Hu Jintao, whom he met at the Chinese Communist Youth League Central Committee in the early 1980s. Li was head of the Communist Youth League during the Tiananmen protests, and the central committee apparently sent food and water to the students in the square. According to the Daily Telegraph an unnamed source said “this episode caused him (Li Yuanchao) some problems, especially when Li Peng (a former premier) criticised him”.

Li’s son attended Yale University, though press reports in 2013 suggested that many offspring of the new generation of senior Chinese leaders had been called home.

Li’s prospects for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee had seemed very strong – his princeling connections and links to both Shanghai and Hu Jintao meant he was thought to have broad-based support. In September 2012 the South China Morning Post predicted that Li would be Vice-President, in charge of Hong Kong and Macau affairs, beating competition from Liu Yunshan. In early 2013 he appeared to be spending a lot of time greeting visiting leaders and delegations, hinting at his role as Vice-President.

Cheng Li writes that Li Yuanchao is “one of the few fifth-generation leaders who have called for serious political reforms, inner-party democracy, and tougher measures to deal with official corruption.”

Liu Yuanchao’s Contact Information:

  • Address: Zhongnanhai, Xi Chang’an Jie, Beijing 100017.
  • Website:
  • Phone: + 86 10 63070913
  • Fax: + 86 10 63070900

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