Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Well, according to the Western press, VP Huang Ju just passed away. Nothing from the official press yet, but if true, it should be forthcoming soon. Politically, I don't think it is so important since he had been sick for a long time. It would have been nice for Zeng if he had been able to participate in the discussion for the next Standing Committee, but he had been ill since February anyway.

From Times Online

May 9, 2007
China's vice premier, Huang Ju, dies
Death of vice premier in charge of the economy opens way for President Hu Jintao to appoint ally on powerful committee
Jane Macartney of The Times, in Beijing

China¡¯s vice premier in charge of the economy, Huang Ju, has died in a Beijing hospital, opening the way for President Hu Jintao to appoint an ally to fill his seat on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee.

Mr Huang, 69, who had been ill with pancreatic cancer for many months, died this morning at the 301 military hospital in western Beijing, The Times learnt from Chinese sources. This is the hospital where most of Chinese leaders undergo treatment and where paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, died in February 1997.

There had been rumours that Mr Huang was seriously ill for several months.His failure to appear at the funeral in January of Bo Yibo, the last surviving leader of the Mao Tse-tung generation of leaders, was the clearest sign that Mr Huang was no longer able to carry out his official functions.

Mr Huang, an engineering graduate of Beijing¡¯s Tsinghua University, had spent most of his career in Shanghai, where he was a prot¨¦g¨¦ and close ally Jiang Zemin, a former president and Communist Party leader. His close ties to Mr Jiang had given him a reputation as a member of Mr Jiang¡¯s ¡°Shanghai clique¡± in the top echelons of the party. President Hu has been gradually trying to build his own powerbase since he came to power in 2002 by replacing Mr Jiang¡¯s men.

The death of Mr Huang provides the President with an important opportunity to move one of his own loyalists onto the Politburo Standing Committee ¨C a group of nine men who wield ultimate power in China. Mr Huang, who became a standing committee member in 2002, had held the portfolio in charge of the economy ¨C one of the most powerful jobs in China.

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