Mr. Bao’s wife, Jiang Zongcao, died on Aug. 21 At 90. The deaths of their friends and family members in China were widely mourned by Chinese friends and supporters, even though official media did not mention the deaths and social media tried to suppress the news.

Bao Tong was the third of six children and was born in Haining Province, Zhejiang Province on Nov. 5, 1932. His father, Bao Peiren, a manager at an enamel products factory and Wu Heng, his mother, were both passionate about education.

The family fled the Japanese invasion of 1938 and settled in Shanghai, then French-controlled. Mr. Bao Recalled reading “The Observer,” An influential liberal magazine as well as Mencius the ancient Chinese Sage, who, he said: “made me understand that people should treat other people also as people.”

After Japan’s defeat, China’s ruling Nationalist Party vied for control of the country with the Communist Party, which Mr. Bao He saw the Communists as an idealistic alternative against the corruption and despotism that the Nationalists were promoting. He joined the Communists in April 1949, months before Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic.

“I was elated to join the Communist Party out of my striving for democracy,” Mr. Bao He said it in his memoirs, which are kept in private circulation. “Back then I didn’t have the slightest understanding that there was a conflict between seeking democracy and the supremacy of the Communist Party.”

He rose up in the party organization. In 1955, he married Jiang Zongcao, a fellow official who became an expert in Spanish and later co-translated Gabriel García Márquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Mr. Bao He was a faithful Communist but his educated background, and ties with banned liberal traditions made him trouble. During Mao’s tumultuous Cultural Revolution, Mr. Bao Indoctrination at a rural school lasted more than six decades.