Zhang Xiaoyu, former vice president of China Machinery Industry Federation, director-general of Society of Automotive Engineers China, honorary director-general of China Auto Talents Society, and a consultant to the Global Automotive Executive Council, passed away at the age of 69 on November 12 after a three-year bout with cancer.
Hailed as an “ambassador of China’s auto industry,” Zhang in his capacity as former director of the automotive industry at the Ministry of Machinery Industry (MMI), director of planning at the former China Auto Industry Federation, and deputy director of the Nation Machinery Industry Bureau, played a key role in shaping China’s auto industry. He helped draft the auto industry’s “Sixth Five-Year Plan” (1981-1985), “Seventh Five-Year Plan” (1986-1990), “Eighth Five-Year Plan” (1991-1995) and “Ninth Five-Year Plan” (1996-2000).
Zhang has nearly devoted his entire life to the auto industry, having started his career in 1968 as a line worker at an automobile assembly plant in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region after graduating from the Tsinghua University. Under his aggressive push, the automobile assembly plant in Xinjiang was eventually merged by Dongfeng Motor Corp. and became Dongfeng Motor Corp. Xinjiang Automobile Works, which built trucks and components that were exported to neighboring countries.
Zhang’s last public appearance was at this year’s 2014 International Forum (TEDA) on China Automotive Industry Development in Tianjin in September, while still undergoing chemotherapy. Since this forum was first held in 2005, he has made an effort to attend almost every year, even in poor health.
Nearly 20 years ago in July 1995, when this newsletter just started publishing, Zhang in his capacity as the director of MMI’s department of auto industry gladly accepted an interview request by our honorary chief editor Dr. Wayne Xing. Zhang gave his views on the future prospects of China’s auto industry as well as the policy and regulatory environment.
In that interview, he said, “for the development of such a hot item as the automobile, the central government’s position is, on the one hand, to provide macro control and guidance with administrative measures and, on the other, to support key vehicle and component projects through the use of centrally controlled financial resources. As China continues with the policy of reform and the introduction of a socialist market economy, the auto industry will eventually be reorganized according to market needs.”
Such words still carry heavy weight to this day.
Zhang since then has accepted many more interviews from CBU and spoke at our past annual international conferences. In a way, without Zhang’s support of our publications and conferences, CBU would not have grown to where it is today.
Zhang was a kind, amiable, down to earth person who is easy to approach. He is broadly seen as a witness and change agent for the development and reform of China’s auto industry.
He will be sorely missed by the industry and the entire CBU editorial board.