Top cadres face off for Guangdong post
WILLY WO-LAP LAM
Guangdong cadres are doing their best to ensure that a native son succeeds Communist Party Secretary Xie Fei , who is expected to step down soon after the 15th Party Congress this year.
Mr Xie, 64, is being offered a 'second-line' position of either National People's Congress vice-chairman or a vice-chief of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Chinese sources said that given the prosperity of the coastal province, a number of senior cadres in the capital were vying for the post.
They said the front-runner among the Beijing-based candidates was State Council Secretary-General Luo Gan , 61.
A trouble-shooter for premier Li Peng , Mr Luo is also eyeing the position of the party secretary of Chongqing, which will be upgraded to being a directly administered city next March.
The party bosses of Guangdong and Chongqing are expected to be entitled to Politburo membership.
But as Mr Luo has led a number of investigation teams to check on the integrity of Guangdong cadres, he is considered an unpopular figure in Guangzhou.
A Guangzhou source said Guangdong cadres had been lobbying the party's Organisation Department to follow tradition and pick a Cantonese-speaking 'local'.
It is understood, however, that there is a dearth of heavyweight Guangdong candidates.
Lu Ruihua , who became Governor last year, is deemed too junior for the position.
This is despite the fact that the 58-year-old physicist-turned-administrator is a popular politician.
The source said Justice Minister Xiao Yang , 58, had emerged as a dark horse candidate.
A native of Heyuan county, Guangdong, Mr Xiao has had an impressive record as a law-enforcement official, rising to become vice-chief of the Supreme People's Procuratorate in the early 1990s.
A Guangzhou-based Western diplomat said while Mr Xiao lacked top-notch connections with the major factions in the party, his legal background and good image should help him in the race.
'Since the 1970s, the party secretaries and governors of Guangdong have either been reformers or native sons,' the diplomat said.
'Resistance to Luo Gan is mounting given his close affinity with premier Li and the so-called Beijing Faction.' Leadership changes in major Guangdong cities, including Shenzhen, are also expected later this year.