Guo Jinlong

Hu protege to become provincial party boss

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 November, 2007, 12:00am

Woman's landmark posting in reshuffle

A protege of Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao will become the second female provincial party chief in the country's history, according to reliable sources.

Shen Yueyue, 50, executive vice-minister of the powerful Central Organisation Department, will soon become the party boss of Jiangxi province in a new round of reshuffles of senior central and regional officials after the new leadership lineup was unveiled at the end of the party's 17th National Congress last month.

Ms Shen, dubbed Mr Hu's commander in chief of personnel matters among Beijing party officials, has played a pivotal role in helping Mr Hu install his supporters in key positions.

During her term, many members of the so-called tuanpai - those with a background in the Communist Youth League (CYL), which is the president's power base - were promoted to senior positions.

She also played a significant role in the selection of delegates to the congress, party sources said.

If appointed, Ms Shen will become only the second female provincial party boss in history, following Wan Shaofen, who was appointed Jiangxi party secretary in 1985.

In the upcoming reshuffle, Anhui province party chief Guo Jinlong will head the western province of Sichuan. He will be replaced by Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng. Sichuan party chief Du Qinglin will become the minister in charge of the party's United Front Department.

A Zhejiang native, Ms Shen began her political career with the CYL. She was deputy secretary and later secretary of the Zhejiang provincial CYL committee from the mid-1980s to 1995, when Mr Hu was the organisation's general secretary. She was elected an alternate member of the decision-making Central Committee at the 15th party congress in 1997 at the age of 39, becoming the youngest member.

Ms Shen was appointed deputy party secretary of Zhejiang in 2001 and transferred to the same position in neighbouring Anhui in 2002.

Sources said Mr Hu called her to Beijing to become deputy head of the Organisation Department just three months after he took over from former president Jiang Zemin as party chief in late 2002.

Ms Shen's appointment was seen as a significant move by Mr Hu to consolidate his grip on power because it meant that for the first time, the leader would have a say in personnel issues. Until then the party's powerful Organisation Department, which handles personnel, had been under the exclusive purview of Mr Jiang.

Before the 16th party congress in 2002, Mr Jiang kept the key department, which exerts a strong influence on the political careers of party members, under the tight control of his protege, vice-president Zeng Qinghong .

For the past five years, the department was headed by He Guoqiang - a close associate of Mr Zeng. Mr He was elevated to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee last month.

Ms Shen is one of only 13 women on the party's 204-strong decision-making Central Committee.