Weeks after the annual conclave of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) senior leaders at the Beidaihe seaside resort, China's official news agency Xinhua on August 28, 2016, announced the appointment of six new party secretaries.
Priority appears to have been given to the autonomous regions with four of them getting new leaders. Of interest to India are the appointments of Wu Yingjie as the new party secretary for the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Chen Quanguo as the party secretary of the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and 62-year-old Chen Hao as the party secretary of Yunnan.
Other appointments include those of 59-year-old Li Jiheng as party secretary of Inner Mongolia, 1955-born Du Jiahao as the party secretary of Hunan, 1958-born Li Jinbin as party secretary of Anhui, and Li Xiaopeng as China's new transport minister. Li, significantly, is the son of Li Peng, who was the Chinese premier from 1987 to 1998 and during the the army crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
There is speculation that Zhang Chunxian, who was born in 1953 and has been replaced after six years as Xinjiang party secretary by former TAR party secretary Chen Quanguo, is likely to move to Beijing as deputy chairman of the Central Leading Small Group on Party-building Work and later take over as its chairman from Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) member Liu Yunshun.
He is a Politburo member and in the running for promotion to the PBSC. Some reports, however, claim that his past association with former PBSC member Zhou Yongkang and the friendship between their wives, who work together at CCTV, will mar his future prospects.
|A Chinese national flag flies in front of the China Construction Bank (CCB) tower at Hong Kong's central business district (Reuters).|
The appointments reflect Chinese president Xi Jinping's preference for appointing cadres who have either worked with him or have a "Red" lineage, army background or professional expertise to sensitive positions. The new TAR party secretary and railway minister are "Red descendants" while Chen Quanguo's background includes service in the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The 61-year-old Chen Quanguo, incidentally, was learnt from reliable sources to have been appointed as the TAR party secretary at the express behest of Xi, who was the then vice-president.
Chen Hao and Du Jiahao have both worked under Xi in Shanghai. Chen Quanguo and the 59-year-old Li Jiheng have both been moved from one autonomous region to another indicating that their career graphs continue to rise. Both are presently members of the 18th CCP Central Committee (CC) and are likely to be elevated to the Politburo at the 19th party congress late next year. The norm for retirement for provincial level cadres is 65 years.
Of particular interest is the appointment of the new TAR party secretary Wu Yingjie. It would be difficult for the CCP to find another ethnic Han cadre who is as "Tibetan" as Wu Yingjie. Wu Yingjie's father, Wu Ziming was secretary of the Communist Youth League of Changyi county, Shandong province. He was transferred to Golmud in Tibet in 1956. After graduating from a high school in Shandong in 1974, Wu Yingjie came to Tibet as an "educated youth" under the Tibet Aid programme.
He joined the CCP in May 1978. Wu Yingjie attended the Central Party School in Beijing from March 2000 to January 2001 when he studied in the Central Party School's Research Institute. He was subsequently promoted in January 2003 and also served as director of the TAR propaganda department.
He received special credit for the propaganda work during the TAR's 40th anniversary celebrations in 2005. He would also have worked closely with Liu Yunshun, now PBSC member and then director of the CCP CC's propaganda department, in shaping a decisive role for the CCP's propaganda apparatus at the time of the 2008 riots in Lhasa. Official Chinese media reports state that "a resounding success of patriotism education was seen" during his tenure as director of the TAR's propaganda department.
The appointments indicate that decisions have been taken anticipating that there will be over 90 vacancies to be filled in the CCP Central Committee at the 19th party congress. There will also be five clear vacancies in the PBSC. Xi Jinping will try to fill as many of these with loyalists.