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Penpics of China's new Communist Party leaders
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 15, 2012

China appoints respected economist to target graft
Beijing (AFP) Nov 14, 2012 - China appointed a respected economist to its anti-graft body as it sought to stress its resolve in fighting the rampant corruption identified as one of the biggest challenges for the Communist Party.

Wang Qishan, China's top finance official, will join the party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the state-run Xinhua news agency said Wednesday, as the party's five-yearly congress came to a close in Beijing.

Wang is best known for representing China in key economic talks with the United States and European Union.

The congress also approved an amendment to the party constitution to include a call for "attaching greater importance to conducting oversight of cadres", Xinhua said.

During the congress, delegates selected a 205-strong new party Central Committee and made other appointments to key party bodies such as the disciplinary commission, which is tasked with keeping officials in line.

Wang also has been tipped as a possible candidate for membership on China's top decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, which now has nine members and is set to be unveiled in Beijing on Thursday.

"Its an interesting decision, as Wang is best known for relations with America and being a well-thought-of economic specialist," Kerry Brown, Professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Sydney, told AFP.

"He's very capable, so his capacity being put to work in this area shows a slight readjustment to emphasise the corruption issue," he said.

The party has been stained by a series of high-profile corruption scandals in recent years, including the spectacular downfall of one-time political star Bo Xilai who faces trial on charges of corruption and abuse of power.

The party's revised constitution includes a call to "strengthen oversight of principal leading cadres," referring to high-ranked members of the party.

President Hu Jintao said at a keynote address to the congress last week that a failure to tackle corruption by party officials could cause "the collapse of the party and the fall of the state".

China's ruling party has made a number of high-profile anti-corruption drives in recent decades, but they have done little to offset increasing perceptions of graft.

"There are many cases involving high-level officials, and cases involving huge amounts of money," a senior researcher associated with the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection told Xinhua earlier this year.

Reports of the huge wealth amassed by the families of top officials have intensified pressure on the party to counteract allegations of cronyism and corruption.

The New York Times said last month that the family of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao owned assets worth $2.7 billion, a report which China called a smear.

The Bloomberg news agency previously estimated the family of Xi Jinping -- who is almost certain to be appointed head of the party on Thursday, and named president next year -- had assets worth $376 million.

Authorities have sought to suppress the reports in China.

Analysts doubt whether the party's discipline body, which is not an independent body, can be effective in reducing corruption.

"I think they will go through the motions of cracking down on corruption harder than before," Willy Lam, a Chinese political analyst at the Chinese University of Hong Kong told AFP.

"As long as the party is the only power centre, corruption will never be eradicated," he said. "anti corruption manoeuvres are just the party inspecting itself."

China ranked 75th of 182 countries on a corruption perceptions index published by advocacy group Transparency International in 2011.

Following are brief sketches of key contenders for the Chinese Communist Party's new Politburo Standing Committee, the country's most powerful body, to be revealed on Thursday.



The son of a revered communist revolutionary, Xi, 59, is expected to be named general secretary of the party Thursday and become national president in March 2013.

Xi is said to be backed by former president Jiang Zemin, who remains influential today, but is widely considered a consensus figure in China's factional politics.

He has served as top leader in Shanghai and the coastal provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, all of them economically successful. His wife Peng Liyuan is a famous singer who holds the rank of army general, while their daughter reportedly studies at Harvard University.


A bureaucrat with an unusually easy smile for China's colourless Communist officials, Li moves up in the party hierarchy and is due to be named prime minister in March, tasked with running the world's second-largest economy.

Vice Premier Li, 57, has held top posts in Henan and Liaoning provinces and was promoted to the Standing Committee in 2007. Long linked to outgoing President Hu Jintao, Li speaks English and has a law degree from Peking University.



Born November 1946, Zhang was installed as party secretary of the mega-city of Chongqing in February to replace disgraced Bo Xilai, whose fall amid scandal added to the usual factional uncertainty ahead of this year's reshuffle.

An economics graduate of Kim Il-Sung University in North Korea, Zhang has been vice premier in charge of energy, telecommunications and transportation since 2008.

Believed to be a protege of Jiang Zemin, he has been party boss of the economically booming provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong.


Yu, 67, has been party secretary of Shanghai since 2007, when he replaced the promoted Xi Jinping. A previous party secretary of Hubei province, Yu studied at the Harbin Military Engineering Institute.

The son of Yu Qiwei, a party elder better known as Huang Jing, Yu is considered a Communist "princeling" and reportedly enjoyed good ties with Deng Xiaoping -- respected late architect of China's economic resurrection three decades ago -- and is friends with Deng's son, Deng Pufang.


Liu, 65, has been the Party propaganda chief since 2002. A former reporter for the state news agency Xinhua in Inner Mongolia in the mid-1970s, Liu became vice party secretary for the region in 1992. Widely viewed as a conservative.


Born November 1946, Zhang has been party secretary of Tianjin municipality since 2007. Trained as an economist, he spent decades in the southern business hub of Guangdong, rising to provincial vice party secretary.

Ran the booming city of Shenzhen, next to Hong Kong, in the late 1990s and later served as party secretary of Shandong province in eastern China. Reportedly a protege of Jiang Zemin and close to Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing.


Wang, 64, is currently vice premier. He is a former Beijing mayor, Guangdong boss, and vice governor of the People's Bank of China.

An English speaker, he represents China in economic talks with the United States and European Union, whose leaders have praised him for his efforts to help advance economic ties.

He is reportedly married to the daughter of a standing committee member from the Deng Xiaoping era, and is often grouped with the princeling faction.



Born November 1950, he has since 2007 headed the party's powerful Organisation Department, which controls personnel appointments across the vast Communist system.

A member of the Communist Youth League central committee from 1983-1990, where he is believed to have established close ties with the league's former head, Hu Jintao.


Party secretary of Guangdong province since 2007, and previously party secretary of Chongqing.

Wang, 57, is considered a reformer, credited with promoting development in Guangdong by emphasising private enterprise, economic growth and a greater -- although very limited -- role for civil society.


Born in November 1945, she was named to the 25-member Politburo in 2007, the only woman on the committee and as such China's highest-ranking female politician.

Served in the China Youth League from 1982-1991 under Hu, with whom she is believed to have strong ties. Graduated from Tsinghua University in 1970. Currently a cabinet member responsible for education, health and civil affairs.



Born July 1947, Meng has been public security minister since 2007. He became deputy mayor of Shanghai in 1993 and rose to deputy party secretary there from 1996-2001.

His term as public security minister has been marked by a dramatic strengthening of China's police state, and fierce crackdowns on ethnic unrest in the restive minority regions of Tibet and Xinjiang.


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