Hu Jintao

Enviable achievements emboss calling card of high-flying cadre

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 12:00am

The favourite subject of Li Yuanchao at the NPC conference was not so much the riches of Jiangsu province but rather the need to share wealth.

But is Mr Li, Jiangsu party secretary, just an opportunist who mimics what leaders in Beijing have said about building a 'harmonious society'?

Not so, it seems. Party insiders said social harmony was Mr Li's pet subject two years ago - long before it became a party slogan.

The 55-year-old Jiangsu native is the envy of many mandarins as he is armed with the most important conditions for climbing the political ladder - relatively young age, a good education, experience and, most importantly, connections and achievement.

For Mr Li, hard work, talent and luck are behind his rise to senior positions. Although he started as a farmer in Dafeng county, Jiangsu province, Mr Li has attended university four times.

His big break came in 1983 when he became secretary of Communist Youth League in Shanghai and a Central Committee member of the league. The league was the power base of President Hu Jintao .

He swiftly became a member of the Communist Party Central Committee and was accepted for a doctorate by the Central Party School. Mr Li has worked with three influential organs - the youth league, Communist Party Central Committee and the State Council.

What Mr Li lacks now perhaps are 'achievements' - something easier said than done in a province that is already one of the nation's most affluent.

Jiangsu tops all but Guangdong in terms of economic growth, per capita income, foreign direct investment and trade. The province overtook Guangdong in foreign direct investment in 2002 and 2003.

Mr Li has set five policy goals for the province: to govern in accordance with the law, to build a 'harmonious society', to promote the development of cultural activities, to step up education on ethics and to strengthen environmental protection.

Yan Shaohua , president of the Jiangsu Academy of Agriculture Sciences, said Mr Li's priority would be balanced development.

Professor Yan said Mr Li had focused on attracting investment in the less developed central and northern parts, while encouraging southern manufacturers to go north.

'This is a smart strategy because it is a two-edged sword,' said Professor Yan, who is also an NPC representative.

'On the one hand, it helps alleviate the bottlenecks and environment damage in the south [of the province] and on the other hand it will bring help to the poor in mountainous areas in the north.'

Mr Li recently approved a 100 billion yuan fund to implement his green plan. A shift in emphasis to agriculture produced a rare bumper grain harvest last year.

'Jiangsu has recorded a net growth of 3.5 billion kilograms or contributed one tenth of the net growth of the nation's 35 billion kilograms in grain production last year,' said Professor Yan, an agriculture expert.

Mr Li has set in motion massive infrastructure projects in the less developed central and northern parts of the province to balance development among the regions.

If Mr Li achieves his goals, a bright political future is surely awaiting him.

Li Yuanchao

Jiangsu Communist Party Secretary