Obituary: Ding Guangen, 1929 – 2012

Ding Guangen (丁关根) was born in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, in September 1929, according to Xinhua newsagency’s – more or less – standardized – obituary:

An outstanding member of the Communist Party, a soldier of communism of enduring loyalty, an outstanding leader at our party’s ideological and cultural battlefront, the CCP’s 13th alternate politbureau member, secretary of the CCP central committee’s secretariat, member of the 14th and 15th politbureau and central committees’ secretariat secretary, Comrade Ding Guangen, died in Beijing on July 22, 2012, at 6.20 a.m., aged 83, after medical treatment had been unsuccessful.

Ding’s death wasn’t in the headlines of CCTV‘s main evening news (Xinwen Lianbo, 19:00 local time) on Sunday, but probably will be on Monday or Tuesday. The obituary was read out during the broadcast’s second half.

新闻联播, July 22, 2012

新闻联播, July 22, 2012 – click picture for video.

Ding graduated from Jiaotong University, Shanghai (上海交通大学), in 1951, and worked for the ministry of railways for more than 30 years, as an engineer, from 1958 onwards.

He was demoted from the ministry of railways during the “Cultural Revolution”, according to the Xinhua obituary. From 1969 to 1972, when he was sent to a “May-7 Cadre School” (五七干校) – another link here. From 1972 to 1975, he worked at Beifang Jiaotong University’s (北方交通大学) overseas students office.

For the final three years at the ministry, Ding held the office of minister of railways, and resigned in 1988, after a series of train crashes that killed scores of people, writes the Washington Post. He held the post of CCP party group (or cell) secretary at the ministry, too – a task in China that frequently comes along with the leadership at an organization.

Ding’s resignation 24 years ago wasn’t the end of his career. Still in 1988,  he became head of the “Taiwan Affairs Office” at the State Council, and director of the central united-front work department from 1990 to 1992.

In December 1992, he became head of the CCP’s propaganda department, a post he kept until his retirement in 2002. His successor there, Liu Yunshan (刘云山), is still in office.

Anne-Marie Brady wrote in 2008 that Jiang Zemin, party and state chairman in 2002 1992,

[…] was a long time political cadre with a nose for ideological work and its importance. This meeting [Update (July 23, 2012): the first meeting of the politbureau’s standing committee / 4th plenum of the 13th CCP central committee on June 1989 – more info here] marked the beginning of a new era in propaganda and political thought work in China. As a direct result of the events of April – June 1989, the Central Propaganda Department was given more resources and power, including the power to go in to the propaganda-related work units and cleanse the ranks of those who had been supportive of the democracy movement.1)

The task for Jiang’s leadership – and therefore Ding’s task, too – was to

[…] both successfully revitalize the Chinese economy and [to] re-emphasize political thought work and control of China’s propaganda system. […] With the strong support of Jiang Zemin and Deng Xiaoping, from June 1989 onward the Central Propaganda Department and the propaganda system once again began to have a prominent, guiding role in Chinese society.



1) Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., pp 44 – 45.



» Open House, May 25, 2012
» The Weeks before June 4, April 17, 2012» June 9 speech to martial-law units, tsquare, accessed July 22, 2012
» The Weeks before June 4, April 17, 2012



» Bad Deal with Ding’s Son, SMH, Aug 30, 2005


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