Beijing, Jul 23 : Former Chinese prime minister Li Peng -- who dealt with India on two crucial occasions in 1983 and 2003 -- has died. He was 91.
An official statement, quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency, said Li "died of illness in Beijing at the age of 91 at 11:11 pm" on Monday. The former premier's reign witnessed the 1988 landmark visit of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that marked the beginning of a Sino-Indian thaw after a prolonged chill and the 1993 trip of P V Narasimha Rao, also in his capacity as prime minister. during which saw the two countries signed an Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China Border. Li last visited India in 2001.
But li was seen worldwide as the "Butcher of Beijing" for his hardline role along with then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in cracking down the 1983 Tiananmen protests in the Chinese capital. Xinhua said that "under the strong support" of Deng, "Comrade Li Peng took a clear stand and together with most of the comrades of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, took decisive measures to stop the unrest and pacify the counter-revolutionary riots."
He "stabilized the domestic situation, and played an important role in this major struggle concerning the future of the party and the country."
Li kept a relatively low profile after retiring in 2003.(UNI)