Following an intensive changing of the guard among Communist Party of China (CPC) party secretaries in seven provinces in China, the appointment of senior local officials continues, with new governors for Hebei and Liaoning announced on 20 October.
Analysts note that there are many new faces in this round of personnel adjustments, showing that the top leadership is quickly promoting political newcomers in preparation for a new Central Committee to be formed at the CPC’s 20th Party Congress next year.
Stars-in-waiting take their positions
Wang Zhengpu, director of the recently formed National Administration for Rural Revitalization (NARR), was appointed the deputy party secretary for Hebei, and is expected to succeed Xu Qin as the next governor of Hebei. On 19 October, Xu was appointed Heilongjiang party secretary, in place of Zhang Qingwei, who will be heading to Hunan as party secretary.
Wang became head of the Organisation Department when China’s political arena was rocked by the vote-buying scandal in Liaoning, and the political situation there needed to be cleaned up.
Wang, 58, had worked in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) upon graduating from university. In 2010, the CPC’s Organisation Department started a round of exchanges and appointments of local CPC officials, selecting and deploying 66 young and middle-aged officials from the CPC Central Committee and state agencies to take on municipal positions. Wang was the head of the finance department of the MARA when he was posted to Liaoning.
While in Liaoning, Wang was mayor and then party secretary of Liaoyang and deputy head of the Organisation Department of the Liaoning Provincial Party Committee (a chief at the department and bureau level). In October 2016, Wang was promoted to the Standing Committee of the Liaoning Provincial Party Committee and head of the Organisation Department which is at deputy-provincial and ministerial level.
Wang became head of the Organisation Department when China’s political arena was rocked by the vote-buying scandal in Liaoning, and the political situation there needed to be cleaned up. During his term, Wang emphasised strict discipline and worked to improve Liaoning’s political environment.
In August 2018, Wang was appointed a member of the Standing Committee of the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee and head of the Organisation Department.
And in January 2021, he returned to Beijing as deputy director for the Central Leading Group for Rural Affairs. When the NARR was set up, he became its first director. Now, being parachuted into Hebei as governor means that he is set to be a major local official at the provincial level.
Liaoning Daily also reported that a meeting of the Liaoning Standing Committee on 20 October has appointed Li Lecheng as Liaoning’s acting governor.
Li, 56, hails from Jianli in Hubei. At 15, he entered the Huazhong Institute of Technology (now the Huazhong University of Science and Technology), and had spent many years in private enterprises upon graduating.
Now, taking on the post of governor in his first outing out of Hubei in a somewhat exceptional rise among Chinese officials, shows that he [Li Lecheng] is recognised by the top leadership.
Tested in meatier roles
From 2002 to 2008, Li held several positions in Jingmen city in Hubei, including member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Jingmen Municipal Committee, president of Jingmen Trade Union Federation, head of the Organisation Department, and deputy mayor. In 2008, he was appointed as deputy party secretary and mayor of Yichang city; in 2013, he moved from municipal posts to the Hubei provincial government as director of the Hubei Provincial Development and Reform Commission and head of an office for pairing-assistance to Xinjiang (援疆工作办). In February 2017, he returned to a municipal post as party secretary for Xiangyang city; in June, he was appointed a Standing Committee member for Hubei, which is at deputy-provincial and ministerial level.
In January 2021, Li became executive vice governor of Hubei; nine months later, on 20 October 2021, he was promoted again to become acting governor of Liaoning in place of Liu Ning, in turn taking over as Guangxi party secretary from Lu Xinshe, who turns 65 this year.
For years, Li has taken on positions in his hometown of Hubei. While he has reached the position of executive vice governor, he has not yet been appointed deputy party secretary in a provincial-level Standing Committee. Now, taking on the post of governor in his first outing out of Hubei in a somewhat exceptional rise among Chinese officials, shows that he is recognised by the top leadership.
One characteristic of this round of adjustments is a group of new faces among senior provincial officials, all of whom rose rapidly through the ranks.
On 19 October, the Chinese authorities changed the top officials in Hunan, Jiangsu, Tibet, Heilongjiang, Jiangxi, Guangxi and Yunnan, the most since the 19th National Congress in 2017. The changes in governors for Hebei and Liaoning were follow-ups from these adjustments; including Jiangsu provincial Standing Committee member and Suzhou party secretary Xu Kunlin moving to Jiangsu as acting governor, and Jiangxi deputy party secretary Ye Jianchun becoming party branch secretary, and expected to take over as Jiangxi governor.
Some of these officials have made public appearances in their new capacities. On his first day as Hunan party secretary, Zhang Qingwei went to Shaoshan, where he offered flowers at a statue of late CPC leader Mao Zedong, and visited Mao’s former residence and a memorial to him.
One characteristic of this round of adjustments is a group of new faces among senior provincial officials, all of whom rose rapidly through the ranks. For instance, Wang Zhengpu and Li Lecheng both received two new postings within a year, and neither had previously held the post of deputy party secretary at a provincial level. Furthermore, Yunnan party secretary Wang Ning was only promoted to a senior provincial level position last year, but was quickly promoted to the top position of party secretary in Yunnan at China’s southwest border after just over a year as Fujian governor.
Following this round of personnel adjustments, these top local officials are expected to join the next CPC Central Committee at the 20th National Congress in autumn next year.
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