Li Rui ( , born 1917) is a retired politician of the People's Republic of China from the ruling Communist Party and latterly a writer and vocal advocate of democratic reform in China.
Li was an early and enthusiastic member of the Party, having trekked to the Communist base at Yan'an in the late 1930s. Within a few years he first suffered revolutionary persecution there.
In the mid-1950s, Li was briefly one of Mao Zedong's secretaries, giving him access to the inner circle of China s ruling elite, but his criticisms of the Great Leap Forward led to his denunciation and exile. He later declared that Mao was dismissive of the suffering and death caused by his policies: "Mao's way of thinking and governing was terrifying. He put no value on human life. The deaths of others meant nothing to him."
Li helped to negotiate the establishment of Joint Factory 718, set up in Dashanzi in cooperation with East Germany as an extension of the "Socialist Unification Plan" of military-industrial cooperation between the Soviet Union and the young Chinese communist state. From 1957 he was its inaugural director.
Li was later deputy head of the Organisation Department of the Communist Party.
He was a vice minister of the Ministry of Water Conservation, and later that, at the time of its planning, he was opposed to the Yangtze Three Gorges Project.
At the 16th Party Congress in 2002, Li caused a stir by calling for political reform. He began writing widely.
In November 2004, the CCP's Propaganda Department banned Li from being published in the media.
In 2005, on hearing of the death of Zhao Ziyang, Li returned to Beijing from overseas and immediately went to the former general secretary s home to pay his last respects.
In 2006, he was a lead signatory to an open letter condemning the state's closure of the investigative newspaper Bingdian.
In 2007, ahead of the 17th Party Congress, together with retired academic Xie Tao, he published articles calling for the CPC to become a European-style socialist party, remarks were that were condemned by the Party propaganda apparatus.
In October 2010, Li was the lead signatory to an open letter to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, calling for much greater press freedom (see English text http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/10/13/8035/).
Li has a daughter, Li Nanyang, from whom he was long estranged after she rejected him as an enemy of the Party during his fall from power in the 1950s. Through her efforts in the late 1970s, he was returned from exile and restored to his former rank. The two are now reconciled.
de:Li Rui (Politiker) no:Li Rui (politiker) zh: (1917 )