Tuesday, September 25, 2007

As expected, the previous article about the possibility of Xi Jinping being promoted into the Standing Committee triggered a storm of discussion among us China scholars. A reporter asked me the following questions about this issue, and I also append my response.

is it unprecedented for someone to do just a short stint in the provinces and then be elevated to the standing committee; and once in the SC, that person can't be concurrently party secretary?

I am searching my brain for an example of a PSC member who is also provincial party secretary. There has not been a case after the liberation where a PSC member served also as a regional leader. The closest example of that after the liberation was Peng Zhen, who was a secretary in the party secretariat and vice chairman of the NPC while serving as PS of Beijing, but he was only a politburo member.

To have Xi serve as a regional leader and PSC member would be unprecedented, but then we never had so many PSC members before, and frankly a couple of them have nothing much to do. An argument can be made that Shanghai is that important, but then Hu would not want to make that argument. So, if Xi is elevated, he would be given a higher job in the government as well. There have been many cases of rapid helicoptering in the past: Zhao Ziyang was vice premier for a few months before
becoming premier; Zhu Rongji; Zeng Qinghong; Remember, Xi is a CC member, just like Li Keqiang, and Xi has been serving as provincial party secretary for a long time before Shanghai, and that experience counts too.

Surely if Xi does make the PBSC it is likely, as the Reuters article suggests, that he would get a job such as first vice premier (i.e. replace Huang Ju) in Beijing? And that opens the next can of worms, who takes over Shanghai?
According to the Hong Kong Ming Pao, Han Zheng is now enough trusted by Hu for Han to formally get the party secretary job in Shanghai.
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