Guangdong congress meets to pick leaders

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 January, 2003, 12:00am

The 10th Guangdong People's Congress will convene today in Guangzhou with the important task of electing a new government to lead the province for the next five years.

The nine-day session is expected to focus on how to maintain Guangdong's economic strength and look for new areas of growth, including expanding co-operation with Hong Kong. It will also elect delegates to represent the province at the National People's Congress.

Vice-Governor Huang Huahua, a 56-year-old Guangdong native, is widely expected to be elected governor to replace the retiring Lu Ruihua, another Guangdong native.

Although the province is still recording impressive double-digit growth, the economy is being dragged down by numerous factors, including the backwardness of areas in the northeast and southwest, insufficient guidance for private enterprises, and a small talent pool.

Despite being the vanguard of the nation's economic reforms for 20 years, the benefits of Guangdong's export-driven growth has not spread across the province. And where foreign investors and university graduates once preferred Guangzhou, they now favour Shanghai.

Analysts say the central government's concern that its star performer is faltering figured in the election of Zhang Dejiang as party secretary in November to replace Li Changchun, who was named one of the nine Politburo Standing Committee members. Mr Zhang was previously party boss in Zhejiang, where private investment is booming.

A total of 780 delegates will attend the congress, of which 603, or 77.3 per cent, have at least a college education, an increase of 17 percentage points from the previous session. In terms of age, 576, or 73.8 per cent, are between 36 and 55. The private business sector is represented by 93 delegates.