Long Yongtu graduated from the English Department of Guizhou University in 1965. He studied at the Graduate School of the London School of Economics from 1973 to 1974 and received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in economics. From 1978 to 1986, he served as a diplomat in China’s mission to the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme.
Mr. Long was instructed to return to China in 1986. Between 1986 to 2003, he was appointed deputy director of the China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchange, Director-General of the International Department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation, and Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. During the period from January 1995 to September 2001, being the Chief Negotiator leading in the front line, he successfully ended the fifteen-year negotiation of China's accession to the World Trade Organization.
He was the Secretary-General of the Boao Forum for Asia from January 2003 to July 2010, also a member of the Boao Forum for Asia International Advisory Board from July 2010 to April 2018. He had been invited often to attend seminars organized by world-renowned research and academic institutions so as very famous universities, including Harvard University, University of Washington, World Forum, Awashima Forum, Pacific Economic Forum, Royal Society, Asia Society, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and Asian Development Bank.
He was awarded the "CCTV 2003 Economic Person of the Year". He got the United Nations Special Award from United Nations Secretary-General Annan in October 2004, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to promoting cooperation between China and the United Nations. On 8 August 2005, King Albert II of Belgium decreed the Insignia of Officer in the Order of Leopold to Long Yongtu, the Secretary-General of Boao Forum for Asia, in recognition of his efforts in facilitating regional cooperation in Asia and promoting Sino-European and Sino-Belgian economic and trade relations. On 9 April 2018, Long was awarded the title of Honorary Member from the new council of Boao Forum.