Jiang Zemin

Jia Qinglin: Tainted survivor with a powerful patron

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 October, 2007, 12:00am

Jia Qinglin , an ally of former general secretary Jiang Zemin tainted by a corruption case, has served five years as a member of the powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo with little distinction.

Although technically No4 in the hierarchy, his post as chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference gives him little power.

Mr Jia, 67, and Mr Jiang are both engineers and the two worked at the Ministry of Machine-building Industry in the 1970s, believed to be the basis for their alliance.

Mr Jia, a native of Hebei , attended university in his home province. He did manual labour in Jiangxi province during the Cultural Revolution before holding jobs in government and state companies. He moved to Fujian province in 1985 as a deputy party secretary and eventually became governor and later party secretary in the 1990s.

His time in Fujian coincided with a major corruption scandal involving smuggling kingpin Lai Changxing , who is now in Canada fighting extradition. Through his Yuanhua Group, Lai bribed government officials to facilitate the illegal import of goods into Xiamen . Some officials involved were tried and executed.

However, Mr Jia was never publicly implicated and was plucked by Mr Jiang to become Beijing mayor not long after the city's former party chief Chen Xitong was ousted in a separate corruption case. Some attribute his survival not only to his powerful patron but also his ability to foster political cronies.

Mr Jia later took the job of Beijing party secretary and earned praise for organising a massive parade in 1999 to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Working his way up the party ranks with the help of his patron, he became a member of the Politburo's Standing Committee in 2002. His inclusion was a major victory for Mr Jiang, who was trying to maintain a grip on power despite his replacement that year by current president and party secretary Hu Jintao .

Mr Jia shares some responsibility for foreign affairs. A recent trip to Japan meant to mark improved relations was marred by Shinzo Abe's sudden resignation as Japanese prime minister.

Mr Jia has also played a role in Taiwan affairs, in keeping with his 'united front' portfolio. He met the previous head of Taiwan's main opposition Kuomintang, Lien Chan, and has given speeches supporting the Taiwan policies of his mentor, Mr Jiang.