Wednesday, April 04, 2007

First of all, my new website is up (thanks Clara), and it has my updated CV and some recent papers: http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/~vsh853/

This just in--Wang Qishan may be the next party secretary of Guangdong Province, which means a likely entrance into the Politburo. And this means that....he could be China's next Premier!! What is happening now is decidedly weird and unexpected. First of all, we have seen no movement for Hu Jintao's key lieutenants, the two Li's (Li Keqiang, Li Yuanchao). What is in store for them? One can presume two central positions, but there is a limited supply of those. The other two positions that come with more or less automatic seats in the Politburo are now filled by people who are not members of the Hu faction: Xi Jinping to Shanghai and now Wang Qishan to Guangdong.

The recent appointments of Zhang Gaoli to Tianjin and Zhao Hongzhu to Zhejiang also make little sense for Hu. While Zhang is a long-time Jiang crony, Zhao worked closely with Zeng Qinghong in the Central Organization Department between 2000-2002. In Shandong, another important province, we see Li Jianguo, a long-time Li Ruihuan follower, taking the top position. Tianjin, Zhejiang, and Shandong are all economic powerhouses. Yet, the Youth League faction is not taking the top jobs.

I am afraid that Hu is not as powerful as we had thought him to be in the aftermath of the Shanghai corruption case. The recent appointment pattern lends credence to the hypothesis that Zeng Qinghong played a crucial role in the removal of Chen Liangyu from Shanghai. The main thing to watch for during the 17th PC is whether these Zeng Qinghong appointments are a price for his retirement or whether he will stay on despite these appointments. If it is the latter case, Hu Jintao will confront coordinated resistance from powerful local leaders in the next five years.

Troubleshooter to become Guangdong party boss-sources

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, April 3 (Reuters) - Beijing's no-nonsense mayor, who
steered the city through the 2003 SARS crisis, is likely to be
named Communist Party boss of the booming southern province of
Guangdong, a hotbed of civil unrest, two sources said on Tuesday.

The appointment is part of a reshuffle of provincial leaders
ahead of the 17th Party Congress this autumn when President Hu
Jintao will further consolidate power and tap a next generation
of leaders.

The party is expected to name Wang Qishan, 58, a "princeling"
son-in-law of late vice premier Yao Yilin, as provincial party
boss of Guangdong soon to replace Zhang Dejiang, the sources with
ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

Zhang, who sits on the party's 24-member decision-making
Politburo, is a candidate for promotion to vice premier.

"Wang Qishan will go to Guangdong and is a Politburo
candidate," one source said.

It was not immediately known who would replace him as mayor
of the capital little more than a year before it hosts the Summer
Olympics. Candidates include Wang Anshun, named last month as one
of the city's deputy party bosses, and Vice Mayor Ji Lin.

Wang Qishan, a former economist, is no newcomer to Guangdong.
As provincial vice-governor from 1998 to 2000, he oversaw a
clean-up of the troubled trust sector following the 1998 collapse
of Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corp.

A few years later, stung by global criticism that Beijing had
covered up the SARS outbreak and helped its spread around the
world, Chinese leaders turned to Wang to repair the city's image.

From serving as party boss of China's tiniest province, the
southern island of Hainan, Wang was parachuted into Beijing.

The previous mayor had been sacked for bungling the crisis --
the city's worst setback since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Now
Wang closed schools, gyms and theatres and urged people to stay
home as the health emergency raged.

Guangdong, neighbouring Hong Kong, has been plagued with
crises since Zhang, 60, took the helm there in 2002. The
province, with its 92 million population, accounted for about
one-eighth of China's economy last year and attracted some $10
billion in foreign direct investment.

In 2005, thugs terrorised the Guangdong village of Taishi,
where residents were petitioning to sack their elected village
chief, who they say is corrupt.

Then came violence in Dongzhou, where villagers say up to 20
may have died when police opened fire on protesters. The
government said three protesters were killed.

"Zhang Dejiang attended university in North Korea. This kind
of person is preposterous... Wang Qishan is much better. He is
experienced in dealing with the media and managing crises,"
political commentator and democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo said.

Wang is a princeling, a term which refers to the children of
China's incumbent, retired or late leaders.

Another princeling, Xi Jinping, was named party boss of
Shanghai last month, replacing Chen Lianyu who was ousted over a
social security fund scandal.

Wang was president of China Construction Bank, one of the
country's four big state banks, from 1996 to 1997 and minister of
economic restructuring from 2000 to 2002.

Seems as though Zhang Dejiang may finally get nailed for a pension fund scandal.
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