Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dear readers, we have a confirmation! This is going to make things very interesting, and pancreatic cancer, if true, is much more serious business than prostate cancer. The odds are not good: "4% of white people survive 5 years for pancreatic cancer in the US 1992-99 (Cancer Facts and Figures, American Cancer Society, 2004)." Granted, he is not Caucasian, but the odds are likely not much better for Asians.

I don't think they will split his portfolio up as the article suggests since they are major portfolios that demand a lot of attention (finance and state assets). The NPC Standing Committee might elect a stand-in Vice-Premier, who will be elevated to the Standing Committee or just the Politburo in the 17th PC. I still stick to my original predictions about who these people might be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cancer diagnosis may force leader off Politburo


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Huang Ju
Executive Vice-Premier Huang Ju , the sixth-highest-ranking Chinese leader, is expected soon to quit politics after being diagnosed with cancer, sources said.

Mr Huang, 68, has remained absent from important public functions since late last month, triggering intense speculation about his health.

Sources said he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during a routine medical check-up before the Lunar New Year and has been in hospital since.

Although not immediately life-threatening, his medical condition is believed to be serious, making it almost impossible for him to resume his hectic work schedule in the near future.

His illness could add uncertainty to the party congress in autumn next year, at which President Hu Jintao is expected to reshuffle the leadership and promote his supporters to the highest echelons of power when current standing committee members retire. Mr Huang's admission to hospital means that supporters of former president Jiang Zemin could lose a powerful voice in the intense jockeying ahead of the congress.

Mr Huang, who was the party secretary of Shanghai from 1995 to 2002, has long been considered as one of the political leaders closest to Mr Jiang and as his strongest ally on the Standing Committee of the Politburo - the country's highest decision-making body.

The disease, though very common, is very difficult to detect and also extremely difficult to treat - meaning Mr Huang is very likely to be forced out of politics.

It remains unclear whether Mr Huang, who ranks sixth on the nine-member standing committee, will be replaced. According to the party constitution, election of a standing committee member would have to be decided by a full plenary session of the party's Central Committee.

As the executive vice-premier, Mr Huang is in charge of financial and economic policymaking. In the near future, his portfolio is expected to be shared among the other three vice-premiers, Wu Yi , Zeng Peiyan and Hui Liangyu .

Analysts said Mr Huang's admission to hospital was unlikely to have any immediate impact on the direction and thrust of China's economic development because the standing committee's major decisions were reached through consensus.

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