NPC chiefs to follow Qiao into retirement
VIVIEN PIK-KWAN CHAN
Six vice-chairmen of the National People's Congress will retire with its Chief Legislator Qiao Shi in March.
Beijing sources said current vice-chairmen Wang Hanbin , Ni Zhifu , Chen Muhua , Fei Xiaotong , Sun Qimeng and Lei Jieqiong would step down after their second five-year terms.
Vice-Premier Zou Jiahua and state councillors Li Tieying, Li Guixian and Peng Peiyun are expected to be nominated to fill the positions. Sources said Mr Li Tieying was expected to take up Mr Wang's role in charge of law-making, while Ms Peng was likely to assume Ms Chen's job in charge of women's affairs.
Tian Jiyun, NPC Executive Vice-Chairman since 1993, is expected to remain in his post.
The Ninth National People's Congress will open its first session on March 5.
More than 2,000 legislators will elect a new chairman, six vice-chairmen plus a premier and his deputies.
Premier Li Peng will step down after completing two five-year terms. Sources say he is keen to secure the NPC chairmanship.
Mr Qiao, 73, will retire. He and Mr Tian have pushed hard to strengthen legislature deputies' supervisory powers, including those over government and legislative leaders.
Mr Qiao has urged congresses at all levels to push for political reform of socialist democracy.
For the past 10 months, the national legislature has sent several major inspection teams to provinces to check on the implementation of laws in areas such as agriculture and labour.
It has the power to set up bodies to support its monitoring role. It has also sought to extend its power on checking corruption among cadres.
Mr Qiao has said he does not want to have retired state officials or party cadres filling the senior positions of the national legislature.
It has been a regular practice that senior cadres retire at the NPC.
During his office, Mr Qiao has tried to inspire the legislature's membership to introduce more original and critical ideas to the NPC.
Members believe the reform of the legal framework and the rule of law will not change much after Mr Qiao departs.
One source said: 'The guidelines for legal reform are set by the party at the 15th Party Congress and the legislature has followed the instructions from the party.'