Author and editor Adi Ignatius got his hands on some very private papers a few years ago, those of Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang. Never heard of him? Ignatius tells you why.

In a conversation with Big Think today, Ignatius introduced the uber-forward-thinking Zhoa Ziyang who was General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1987 to 1989.

Though a card-carrying party leader, Ziyang called for long-range political reforms to the socialist system. These included market liberalization, self-management of independent industries and an more open stance toward the West.

After the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Ziyang reacted sympathetically. Party hardliners did not and put Ziyang under house arrest for the next fifteen years until his death. Though many of Ziyang's liberalization proposals have been implemented in China's current dynamo of an economy, his name is still taboo in political society.

Ignatius, who has published Ziyang's papers in his book, Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang, was bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal in China in the late 80s and went on to become managing editor at Time. Since January, he has served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Business Review.