Politburo men to boost NPC

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 March, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 March, 1998, 12:00am

THE influence of the National People's Congress is due to be strengthened during its annual two-week session, which starts on Thursday.

It is expected that four out of 20 chairmen's and vice-chairmen's positions in the new term will be held by Politburo members.

Beijing sources said 10 of the NPC vice-chairmen would retire with Chairman Qiao Shi, 73. They include Wang Hanbin, Ni Zhifu, Chen Muhua, Fei Xiaotong, Sun Qimeng, Wang Bingqian and Lei Jieqiong.

Vice-Premier Zou Jiahua, Jiang Chunyun, state councillor Peng Peiyun and Guangdong Party Secretary Xie Fei are expected to be nominated to fill some of the positions.

Tian Jiyun, NPC Executive Vice-Chairman since 1993, is expected to remain in his post.

Prime Minister Li Peng will step down after completing two five-year terms and is widely expected to succeed Mr Qiao in the lawmaking body.

This would see four Politburo members - Mr Li, Mr Tian, Mr Xie and Mr Jiang, in the Congress after the reshuffle.

The move is likely to heighten the influence of the NPC, which has been widely considered a rubber-stamp organisation.

Mr Qiao's name was missing from a list of the 2,979 delegates to the new session released yesterday.

Mr Qiao, a shadowy figure who once led the country's security apparatus, had stressed the rule of law as head of the NPC in what some analysts said was an attempt to challenge party dominance and political rival, party chief President Jiang Zemin.

The legislature under Mr Qiao has been trying to shed its rubber-stamp image, although delegates have never rejected any proposed legislation or government appointments.

The legislature has increased scrutiny of new laws, sending inspection teams to key provinces to check on legislation.

NPC members have also sought to extend the body's power in an effort to check corruption among cadres.

Last year, 40 per cent of them rejected the top prosecutor's annual report to signal anger against rising crime.

The NPC Standing Committee is to set up an agriculture committee as one of its new special committees.