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18th Party Congress

The Chinese Communist Party's 18th Congress, held in Beijing November 8-14, 2012, marked a key power transition in China. A new generation of leaders, headed by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, took over from the previous leadership headed by Hu Jintao. The Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee was reduced in number from nine to seven. Unlike his predecessor Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao handed over both the Party General Secretary and Chairman of the Central Military Commission positions to Xi.  

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Jiang Yikang, a future Chongqing party secretary?

Having built up political capital in his 17 years in Zhongnanhai, and with experience working at the local level, Jiang Yikang is tipped for promotion

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 October, 2012, 4:32am

Shandong party secretary Jiang Yikang , tipped by some to become Chongqing party boss after the Communist Party's national congress next month, built up political capital working in the general office of the party's Central Committee for 17 years.

The position in Zhongnanhai, the leadership compound in central Beijing, gave him access to senior state leaders and he worked under five chiefs: Qiao Shi , Wang Zhaoguo , Wen Jiabao , Zeng Qinghong and Wang Gang .

Jiang started his career in Jinan , Shandong's provincial capital, in 1975, working in the city's publicity department.

He spent three years working in various government departments in Jinan before being transferred to a junior post in the general office of the Central Committee in December 1985.

He joined the general office again in 1995 as deputy director after spending three years in a bureau overseeing agencies directly under the Central Committee. He left the general office and was appointed deputy Chongqing party boss in October 2002.

Johnny Lau Yui-siu, a Hong Kong-based political commentator, said Jiang's time in the general office would have helped him establish relationships but would not be a decisive factor in any future promotion.

It is believed Jiang is an ally of former vice-president Zeng, his boss from 1993-99. Zeng, now retired, is the leader of the so-called "princeling gang" - the descendents of former revolutionary leaders - who comprise a powerful faction in Chinese politics.

In May 2005 he was put in charge of relocating residents to make way for the Three Gorges Dam project along with Wang Yang , who became Chongqing party secretary in December 2005. More than 1.3 million people in parts of Chongqing, a municipality in the southwest, and in Hubei had to be moved to other areas along the Yangtze River to make way for the dam, in a process that began in the early 1990s.

In 2006, Jiang moved back to the central government to work at the Chinese Academy of Governance, a party think tank. He was appointed Shandong party chief in March 2008.

Analysts said Jiang's experience at the local level and in Beijing would help him get promoted faster.

"With local experience, leaders will be more practical, with a better understanding of people's livelihoods, and be more concerned about how policies will affect people," said Hu Xingdou , a Beijing-based political analyst.

Jiang's time in Chongqing has some seeing him a possible successor to Chongqing party secretary Zhang Dejiang after the party congress. Zhang, who replaced the disgraced Bo Xilai as Chongqing's party boss in March, is widely tipped for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee.

If Jiang became party chief of Chongqing, one of the mainland's four municipalities, he would probably also secure a spot in the party's Politburo, Hu said. "His experience in both Chongqing and the central government makes him a suitable candidate to fill the post of Chongqing party secretary."

Although Jiang, 59, remains a Politburo hopeful, he came under fire following the high-profile persecution of Chen Guangcheng by the authorities in Linyi , a city in Shandong.

Chen, a blind, self-taught legal advocate and human rights activist, exposed how the Linyi authorities forced thousands of women, sometimes in late stages of pregnancy, to undergo abortions and sterilisation to meet provincial targets under the one-child policy.

He helped victims sue officials but was jailed for four years and three months in 2006 for organising a crowd to disrupt traffic and damaging public property - charges that supporters said were trumped up.

After his release from jail, Chen was put under extra-legal house arrest and constant surveillance in the village of Dongshigu in Linyi.

He escaped house arrest and fled to the United States embassy in Beijing in April, exposing the security apparatus that tried to silence him. Chen left the embassy for medical treatment in May and went to New York with his family that month. The drama unfolded at a sensitive time in Sino-US relations, ahead of a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a meeting of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Although the incident created a diplomatic headache for Beijing, analysts said it would not damage Jiang's prospects of securing a Politburo seat.

"There is no accountability in Chinese politics," Lau said. "That's why no official needs to bear any responsibility after any major disasters or political mishaps."

For example, he said, Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan was not punished by the party when former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun was charged with attempted defection and other crimes after fleeing to the US consulate in Chengdu in February.

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