Li Peng's son, Li Xiaopeng, appointed acting governor of Shanxi

Analysts say the former premier Li Peng played a key role in political lightweight Li Xiaopeng's rise to acting governor of Shanxi province

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2012, 4:12am

Li Xiaopeng, who only just scraped into alternate membership of the Communist Party's Central Committee last month, has been appointed acting governor of Shanxi province, a promotion widely seen as a result of the continued influence of his father, former premier Li Peng.

The appointment was decided upon by the standing committee of the provincial people's congress, state-run media reported yesterday.

Li is expected to be made governor at the annual meeting of the provincial party congress early next year. As governor of the northern, coal-producing province he would hold a rank equivalent to that of a minister.

Li Xiaopeng, 53, received the fewest votes among those elected alternate members of the party's Central Committee at the party's national congress last month. Unlike full members of the Central Committee, the alternates - numbering 171 - are traditionally ranked in accordance with the number of votes they manage to secure from the more than 2,200 party delegates.

His appointment triggered some satirical reaction online, with many saying his promotion was a result of the influece of his father, himself a princeling.

"It is definitely a result of his father's intervention," said Chen Ziming, a Beijing-based political affairs analyst.

Many bloggers said the promotion was symptomatic of the dynastic style of Chinese politics.

"Like father, like son. If your father is a politician, you must be the same when you grow up," one internet user said.

In his first interview with state-run media after his promotion, Li Xiaopeng pledged to be "a good friend, good colleague, good partner and good comrade. I will be forever a primary school student, to learn from the masses, from the grass-roots."

He worked in the power industry until 2008, rising to become chairman of Huaneng Power, one of the country's largest electricity producers. He then became a deputy governor of Shanxi. Li Peng declared martial law at the height of the 1989 student-led pro-democracy demonstration in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, which was crushed by the army days later.

Chen said Li Xiaopeng's promotion was a political victory for his father at the congress.

"Li Peng was active at congress, manoeuvring to promote his political allies, including his son, while stopping reformist officials from getting promoted," Chen said.

Li Peng, who became chairman of the National People's Congress before retiring, is the adopted son of late premier Zhou Enlai. Chen said that made father and son princelings.

However, having least votes for alternate membership of the Central Committee is not always a hindrance to political advancement. In 1997, Xi Jinping, then a deputy provincial party secretary in Fujian, also won the last available seat. He is now the party's general secretary.