Du Runsheng, former director of the Administration of the Rural Development Research Center of the State Council, died on Friday in Beijing at the age of 102, sources from Xinhua News Agency said.
Du was honored as China's "father of rural reform". As China's most influential expert on rural problems and a well-known economist, Du was one of the key members in the 1980s involved in China's major policies and decision-making on rural reform.
Du had been in the hospital due to illness, but he was in stable condition. His condition suddenly worsened on Thursday afternoon and he passed away at 6:20 this morning in the hospital, Xinhua said.
Du Runsheng whose former name was Du De, was born on July 18, 1913 in a village in Taigu county of Shanxi province. He was a military officer and revolutionary leader in the 1930s and 1940s and fought in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. He joined the Communist Party in 1936.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Du's work from 1949 to 1956 mainly concerned rural policy making. In 1956 he shifted to work as leader of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Du was persecuted during the cultural revolution (1966-76) for his ideas and fell out of political favor. But he survived, was restored in 1978 and returned to rural issues' research over the next three decades.
Since 1979, Du had served as the heart and soul of China's agriculture reform circle. He held positions as deputy director of the National Committee on Agriculture, director of the Rural Policy Research Office of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and director of the Administration of the Rural Development Research Center of the State Council.
Du dedicated his life to research on rural problems. One of his best-known quotes is, "China's biggest problem is the problems of farmers. And the biggest problem for farmers is the issue of land."
He suggested many times to the central government that a rural household contract responsibility system be implemented.
For five consecutive years, from 1982 to 1986, he participated as the main member in drafting China's five annual white papers on rural development, each called Document No 1, which carried the hope of millions of farmers in China and focused on farmers'livelihoods and rural areas'development. Du played an important role in promoting the rural household contract responsibility system nationwide.
Du also cultivated many students who became major forces and continue to promote rural reform and development.
Among the prominent names on his list of former students are top discipline inspector Wang Qishan; Chen Xiwen, director of the Communist Party's Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group; Lin Yifu, World Bank chief economist and Peking University National Development Research Institute President Zhou Qiren.
When he was in the hospital, former Premier Wen Jiabao, Wang Qianshan, Chen Xiwen, deputy director of National Development and Reform Commission Du Ying, and many other high-ranking government officials went to visit him, Southern People Weekly reported.
In 2013, during the Phoenix Financial Summit, Du was honored with special awards for promoting reform. The awards noted he contributed his life to reform, sought welfare for China's 800 million farmers and cultivated a significant amount of talent for China.