18th Party Congress

Front runners emerge for vice-premier vacancies

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2012, 5:13am

Guangdong party secretary Wang Yang, State Councillor Liu Yandong and State Council secretary general Ma Kai are front runners to fill the vice-premiership vacancies to be left by Zhang Dejiang, Hui Liangyu and Wang Qishan in March.

All three potential vice-premiers are among the 25 members of the Communist Party's new Politburo, unveiled yesterday.

Judging by her past experience, Liu, 67, could become the vice-premier responsible for culture, education, health care and technology.

If she does manage to land the position, she would become the first female vice-premier since the retirement of Wu Yi in 2008. Wu was a member of the 16th Politburo from 2002 to 2007.

Liu was re-elected to the Politburo and has been joined on the top decision-making body by another woman, Fujian party secretary Sun Chunlan . It is only the second time that two women have been members of the Politburo, following Jiang Qing , the wife of Mao Zedong , and Ye Qun , the wife of Lin Biao , on the ninth Politburo formed in 1969, during the Cultural Revolution.

The only other woman to serve on the Politburo was late party veteran Deng Yingchao , the wife of former premier Zhou Enlai , who was a member of the 11th and 12th Politburos between 1978 and 1987.

Wang Yang, 57, who failed to secure a place at the Politburo Standing Committee, is tipped to be given a portfolio overseeing industry, transport and energy after serving as deputy secretary general of the State Council and party secretary of Chongqing and then Guangdong over the past decade.

Ma, 66, is likely to take over responsibility for the finance sector. Sources close to the State Council said Ma and Commerce Minister Chen Deming , 63, had been competing for the job and that Ma had apparently won.

Meanwhile, more than a third of the 31 regional party chiefs have been named members of the Politburo.

Seven of them are newcomers: Liu Qibao of Sichuan , Sun Chunlan, Sun Zhengcai of Jilin , Zhang Chunxian of Xinjiang , Zhao Leji of Shaanxi , Hu Chunhua of Inner Mongolia and Guo Jinlong of Beijing.

Shanghai mayor Han Zheng , another newcomer to the Politburo, is tipped to be appointed party secretary of the municipality.

Sun Chunlan is tipped to become party chief of Tianjin , Sun Zhengcai party chief of Chongqing and Hu Chunhua party chief of Guangdong.

Hu and Sun Zhengcai, both 49, are the youngest members and tipped to be two rising stars of the party's next generation.

The average age is 61.16.

Additional reporting by Mimi Lau