Li Peng was born on 20 October 1928 in Yibin in China, in the Sichuan province. His father was a martyred revolutionary writer of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) who was executed in 1993 by the Chiang Kai-shek’s Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD). In 1939, he was adopted by Zhou Enlai, emblematic figure of the Chinese Communist Revolution and future Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
In 1941, Li began his studies at an Institute for Natural Science in China, which he continued until 1946, notably studying in Moscow in 1948, before specialising in hydro-electricity. Li joined the ranks of the CCP in 1945. He reached different positions of leadership at the heart of energy businesses, all whilst pursuing his ascent in the CCP.
In 1982, during the 12th National Congress of the CCP, Li joined the central Committee. In 1985 he was appointed in the Politburo and became Secretary of the party, then as a member of the permanent committee of the Politburo in 1987, before he became Prime Minister of the PRC the same year.
On 21 April 1989, protestors gathered in Tiananmen Square to request a stronger struggle against corruption and for the protection of the rights and freedoms granted in the Chinese Constitution. Whilst the government of the former Chinese President, Zhao Ziyang, wanted to achieve a peaceful solution, Li called to return to order by using force. Zhao Ziyang, only had minor support. He was dismissed and placed under house arrest. A martial law was proclamed on 20 May 1989 and the Army invaded Pekin during the night of 3 and 4 June. The clashes between militaries and protestors resulted in several hundred deaths. Following the Tiananmen crise, Li was re-elected to the permanent Politburo committee during the first plenary session of the 15th Central committee of the CCP.
On 28 August 2000, an accusation was filed before Manhattan Federal Court against Li or his alleged participation in the repression of protestors in Tiananmen Square. This judicial action was introduced by four former academic leaders, including Wang Dan and Zhang Liming, the brother of a 21 year old student who was killed during the military assault.
A report from the International Commission of Jurists (1997) came to the conclusion that the repression of Tibet started in 1994, when the high-ranked Chinese officials, including Li, chose to adopt a new strategy for the country. This was followed by a greater influx of Chinese migrants to Tibet, tighter controls on religious activities, a strong smear campaign against the Dalaï Lama and his religious and political influence, increased surveillance, political and arbitrary arrests, and widespread suppression of protests.
The practice of torture was common among police stations and in Tibetan prisons. Methods included severe beatings with chains, sticks with protruding nails and iron bars, inflicting shocks using electric prods for cattle on some sensitive parts of the body, suspending them with their arms tied behind their backs and exposing them to frozen water or to freezing temperatures. Also these torture techniques were specifically directed at certain groups of people. Women, in particular the religious ones, were victims of rape with the help of electric prods used for cattle, their chests were also aimed.
Tibetan population growth was regulated and controlled mainly by limiting the number of children families could have, they did this by imposing fines, abortions and forced sterilisations.
On 28 June 2005, the Tibetan Support Committee (Comité de Apoyo al Tibet), the Foundation “House of Tibet” (Fundacion Casa del Tibet) and Thubten Wangchen, a Tibetan in exile, filed a criminal complaint against eight defendants (including Deng Delyun, Chen Kuyian; Hu Jintao; Jiang Zemin; Li Peng; Ren Rong; Yin Fatang; and Qiao Shi,) before the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) on the basis of the principle of universal jurisdiction for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and terrorism, committed against Tibetans in the late 1980s and 1990s.