China's former vice president, Rong Yiren, a textile magnate who joined with the country's communists and helped launch Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms, earning the nickname "red capitalist," has died, the government said Thursday. He was 89.
Rong died Wednesday in Beijing of illness, the official Xinhua News Agency said. It did not give any other details.
Rong, whose family textile and flour businesses employed 80,000 people, stayed in China after the 1949 revolution and handed over his fortune to the communists.
He was persecuted during the ultra-leftist 1966-76 Cultural Revolution but was rehabilitated in 1978 when Deng invited him to help launch reforms. Deng called Rong his "red capitalist."
Rong created CITIC, the government's China International Trust and Investment Corp., which became China's most respected international business organization, with holdings abroad in companies that included Hong Kong banks and Australian aluminum smelters.