Political experts predict provincial leadership reshuffle in next 3 years

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 February, 2009, 12:00am

Political experts on the mainland are predicting a new leadership reshuffle at the provincial government level in the next three years.

Wang Yukai, a professor at the National Administration College, said the recent leadership reshuffle was the Communist Party's preparation for officials' shifting before 2012, China News Service reported yesterday.

Renmin University professor Mao Shoulong said most governors and ministers would have to leave their positions in three years as, according to mainland government rules, all provincial-government-level officials must retire by 65, the report also mentioned.

The report said an increasing number of officials born after 1949 were set to lead the mainland's provinces and ministries by 2012.

Less than a month before the annual meeting of the National People's Congress starts on March 5, National Development and Reform Commission vice-minister Zhang Mao, 55, has been promoted to party secretary of the Ministry of Health, replacing the 64-year-old Gao Qiang.

Early this year, Hu Chunhua, 45, the Youth League's secretary between 1997 and 2001, became the governor of Hebei province. He is the youngest official of his level on the mainland. Beijing has also arranged for more high-ranking officials to be transferred between the central and local governments.

Former State Administration of Work Safety director Wang Jun was appointed Shanxi governor in mid January, while Zhejiang vice-governor Zhong Shan became a vice-minister at the Ministry of Commerce.

Professor Wang said such a transfer arrangement would help high-ranking officials, who are considered China's future leaders, understand the work involved at different positions and gain a richer experience.

'The party's organisation department has a long-term and general plan for its officials' training,' Kang Xilai, a Guangdong-based political analyst said. 'It must have detailed goals.'

Mr Kang said that if the organisation department wanted provincial-government-level officials to have a certain average level of age, gender, educational background, or nationality by 2012, it must make adjustments in advance.

Mr Kang said that by 2012, when most provincial-government-level officials would be in their forties or fifties, the mainland's reform would have to face another challenge.

Those born after 1949 were only the followers in various political movements, such as the Cultural Revolution, he said.

'So I believe they won't be political zealots, because some of them suffered in those movements,' Mr Kang said.

'But they will focus on their own personal interests, which might not be good for the mainland's continuing reform.'

Mainland political and economic analysts have criticised what they see as the hindering of the country's reform by groups seeking to protect vested interests rather than lowering market barriers that could break up their monopolies.

'If the reform might hurt their political or economic interests they will certainly try to stop it,' Mr Kang said.