David continues to introduce us to the real-life Seven. Full text after the break.
Two More Towards Making The Seven
Number two in the Standing Committee, and its youngest member, is Li Keqiang, who was born in Anhui Province, in central China, on 1st July 1955. As chief lieutenant to Premier Wen Jiabao, Li Keqiang has a lot of experience of working at the highest level of government and will be the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic.
Li Keqiang is probably the most intelligent member of the new Seven, with a degree in Law from Beijing University and a PhD in Economics. Rather handy in today’s China. At the same time as following his studies, Li Keqiang was busy working for the Communist Youth League, being a close associate of current Premier Hu Jintao, who also rose through the ranks of the CYL. Li was appointed to be Governor of Henan in 1998, aged 43 – the youngest appointment of its kind in China’s modern history. He was a busy governor and his hard work brought- economic prosperity to the region, but he has also been seen as a ‘bad luck’ governor, after three major fires in his province and a widespread epidemic of AIDS.
Since 2001, Li Keqiang has been being groomed for his possible premiership, being given some of the most important economic portfolios to deal with. If Xi Jinping is the stabilizing force at the centre of the Politburo, Le Keqiang is the economic theoretician. His chief policy is to boost China’s domestic consumption and thus share the country’s wealth more evenly.
Does he like the West? It’s hard to say. But he is committed to international trade, so hopefully, with him at the rudder, we’ll see slow progression towards making China much more like the model of the West. It’s also to be noted that Li Keqiang is for the development of affordable housing, basic health care for all China’s citizens and clean energy.
In no particular order (though when it comes to it, the order in which these seven are announced is crucially important in marking out their relative status) next on my list is Zhang Dejiang, who was born in Northern China in November 1946. He owes a great deal of his rise in the Party to the sponsorship of Jiang Zemin, in the 1990s. But Guangdong was where Zhang made his name, helping to integrate the economies of the Pearl River Delta. But his critics accuse Zhang of being a hardliner, whose instinct is to clamp down on any protest. In that sense he is very much an old school communist.
At present Zhang Dejiang oversees China’s energy, telecommunications and transportation industries – three of the biggest departments of government (I mean… imagine how big each of those three is individually!). He’s also been appointed to run the Party in Chongqing, after Bo Xilai’s arrest on corruption and now murder charges. Criticised last year for his handling of the Wenzhou fast speed rail collision, he’s one I really can’t call. He clearly doesn’t like criticism and there are a lot of rumours surrounding the man. Oh, and he speaks Korean, too.
Okay. More later. Oh, and I was going to say… among the two tipped for the top who have subsequently been dropped from the Standing Committee, was the one and only woman in this whole process, Liu Yandong, a staunch ally of President Hu Jintao. What a surprise, eh?
David Wingrove 24th October 2012