Li Xiannian (1909-1992), Chairman of the Seventh National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and secretary of the leading Party group of the Seventh CPPCC National Committee, a native of Hong'an, Hubei Province, was a carpenter in his early years.
In 1926 he joined the revolutionary ranks and was engaged in the work of the peasant association. In November 1927 he took part in the Huang'an (now Hong'an)-Macheng armed uprising and joined the Communist Party of China (CPC). He served as secretary of Huang'an County CPC committee and chairman of Huang'an County Workers' and Peasants' Democratic Government. After 1931, he served as political commissar of the 33rd Regiment of the 11th Division of the Fourth Front Army of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, the Division and the 30th Army. He participated in establishing the Hubei-Henan-Anhui and Sichuan-Shaanxi revolutionary base areas.
In May 1935 he took part in the Long March. In October 1936 he was instructed to lead the 30th Army of the Fourth Front Army to march westward to cross the Yellow River, participated in the western expedition of the West Column and served as member of the Military and Administrative Council of the West Column. After the West Column ended up in defeat in March 1937, he commanded the remaining forces of the West Column to fight in Xinjiang. At the end of the same year, he arrived at Yan'an. He studied in the Anti-Japanese Military and Political University and the Institute of Marxism-Leninism. In the winter of 1938, he served as deputy director of the military commission of the Henan-Hubei Border Area Provincial CPC Committee and head of the military affairs department.
In January 1939 he went to the Henan-Hubei border area, conducted guerrilla warfare, served as commander of the Henan-Hubei Independent Guerrilla Group, the Henan-Hubei Independent Guerrilla Detachment and the Henan-Hubei Forward Column of the New Fourth Army and established the Henan-Hubei Border Area Anti-Japanese Base Area. After the Southern Anhui Incident occurred in January 1941, he served as commander and political commissar of the 5th Division of the New Fourth Army. In January 1943 he served as secretary of the Henan-Hubei Border Area CPC Committee. In October 1944 he served as commander and political commissar of the Hubei-Henan-Anhui-Hunan-Jiangxi Military Area. At the Seventh National Congress of the CPC held in June 1945, he was elected member of the CPC Central Committee. After the victory in the anti-Japanese war, he served as deputy secretary of the Central Plains Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and commander of the Central Plains Military Area. In June 1946 he commanded troops to break out of the encirclement by KMT massive forces from several directions and smashed Chiang Kai-shek's scheme to wipe out the Central Plains Liberation Army. In September 1946 he was instructed to return to Yan'an. In 1947 he served as second deputy secretary of the Central Plains Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy commander of the Shanxi-Hebei-Shandong-Henan Field Army. In May 1948 he served as member of the newly organized Central Plains Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and deputy commander of the Central Plains Military Area and the Central Plains Field Army and assisted Liu Bocheng and Deng Xiaoping in their work. After May 1949, he served as secretary of Hubei provincial CPC committee, chairman of Hubei provincial people's government, commander and political commissar of Hubei provincial military area, secretary of Wuhan municipal CPC committee and mayor of Wuhan City, deputy secretary of the Central-South Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, vice-chairman of the Central-South Military and Administrative Commission and member of the Central People's Revolutionary Military Commission. From September 1954 to September 1980, he served as Vice-Premier of the State Council, Minister of Finance, director of the Financial and Trade Office of the State Council, deputy head of the Financial and Economic Group of the CPC Central Committee, Vice-Minister of the State Planning Commission. In May 1958 he served as member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee. During the "cultural revolution", he firmly resisted and combated the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counterrevolutionary clique and assisted Zhou Enlai in the economic work under the complex and difficult circumstances.
In October 1976 he played an important role in smashing the Jiang Qing counterrevolutionary clique. In August 1977 he served as Vice-Chairman of the CPC Central Committee and executive member of the Military Commission of the CPC Central Committee. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee was held in December 1978, he participated in formulating and organizing the implementation of the line, principles and policies during the new period. In March 1979 he served as vice-chairman of the Financial and Economic Committee of the State Council. After 1981, he took charge of the Foreign Affairs Work Leading Group of the CPC Central Committee. At the First Meeting of the Sixth NPC held in June 1983, he served as President of the People's Republic of China. From April 1988 to June 1992, he served as Chairman of the CPPCC National Committee. He was member of the Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth CPC Central Committees, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Eleventh and Twelfth CPC Central Committees. His major works are included in the Selected Works of Li Xiannian.