PetroChina chief tipped for role as Yunnan governor

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 April, 2011, 12:00am

A top state oil executive is tipped to become governor of the southwestern province of Yunnan as political jockeying continues in the run-up to next year's expected leadership transition in Beijing.

Jiang Jiemin, chairman of PetroChina and general manager of China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), is expected to be appointed deputy party chief and acting governor.

Jiang would be the second top executive from the state oil duopoly to blaze a political trail. Just a fortnight ago, Sinopec chairman Su Shulin was appointed acting governor of Fujian province. Su became chairman in 2007, replacing Chen Tonghai, who was sacked for allegedly accepting bribes of more than US$28 million.

Jiang, 57, has more than 30 years of experience in China's oil and gas industry. He served as vice-governor of Qinghai province between 2000 and 2003 and is also an alternate member of the Communist Party's Central Committee, a position usually seen as a qualification for the governorship of a smaller or less developed province or deputy governorship of a politically significant one.

It is not unusual in China for the chief of a state-owned company to join the political elite. The party's organisation department says it has a plan for exchanges of officials between business and the government, with more corporate leaders, most from state monopolies, moving into politics and vice-versa.

Political heavyweight and security chief Zhou Yongkang was once CNPC's general manager. Zhou is currently the secretary of the party's Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee and one of nine top party leaders on the Politburo Standing Committee.

Former Sinopec bosses Chen Jinhua and Sheng Huaren both went on to become top officials at economic planning bodies, and former head Li Yizhong became minister of industry and information technology.

CNOOC's previous chief Wei Liucheng is now party chief of Hainan province. The former CNOOC chairman and chief executive was made deputy party chief and acting governor of the island province in 2003.

Meanwhile, Li Xiaopeng, 52, son of ex-premier and National People's Congress chief Li Peng, transferred from his role as general manager of China Huaneng Group, a supplier of electric power, in June 2008 to become deputy governor of Shanxi province.