Shanghai faction on rise again

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 January, 1998, 12:00am

THE latest controversy over personnel has focused on the possible promotion of Shanghai Mayor Xu Kuangdi to state councillor.

Diplomatic sources said a Politburo meeting held in Beijing last week failed to finalise new appointments to the State Council and the National People's Congress (NPC).

Extensive personnel changes will take place in early March, when the Ninth NPC is due to confirm a changing of the guard in the central Government and the legislature.

The sources said President Jiang Zemin was pushing for the concurrent appointment of Mr Xu, a respected technocrat, as a Shanghai-based state councillor.

'Jiang has manoeuvred for many months to transfer key protege - Shanghai party secretary Huang Ju - to Beijing,' said a Western diplomat.

'If this happens, Xu will take Huang's place as Shanghai party boss. But Xu needs a senior ranking such as state councillor before he can be promoted to that position.' However, the diplomat said politicians opposed to the rise of the Shanghai faction had voiced reservations about Mr Xu's elevation.

A Beijing source said that another Shanghai-affiliated official, People's Bank of China Governor Dai Xianglong, had a higher chance of being promoted to state councillor.

The candidacy of Mr Dai was backed by premier-designate, Zhu Rongji.

The source said the Communist Party leadership had not finalised its candidate for the successor to Qiao Shi as NPC chairman, despite the fact that premier Li Peng was considered the frontrunner.

The source added there were fears that Mr Qiao's opposition might affect the number of ballots for Mr Li when the NPC voted to confirm his appointment as chairman. Mr Jiang is understood to have privately sought Mr Qiao's co-operation on personnel matters.

During his recent tour of Shanghai, however, Mr Qiao raised eyebrows when he failed to salute Mr Jiang as the 'core' of the party leadership.