Hu Jintao protégé Zhou Qiang tipped as the mainland's top prosecutor

Hunan party boss Zhou Qiang is being tippedto be named as the mainland's top prosecutor

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 March, 2013, 6:56am

Hunan party boss Zhou Qiang, a protégé of President Hu Jintao, looks set to be appointed top prosecutor in a week's time.

Rumours have circulated over the past few days over Zhou's career path, suggesting he would be appointed either the president of the Supreme People's Procuratorate or president of the Supreme People's Court.

A protégé of Zhou in the judiciary said he would be appointed the country's top prosecutor while incumbent Cao Jianming would be appointed the SPC president. The latter rumour was supported by another source close to Cao.

The Post was the first to report in November, days before the ending of the party's 18th national congress, that Zhou was a favourite to be named top judge. But things have changed in horse trading and bargaining over the past three months.

Chen Jiping, secretary of the government-sanctioned China Law Society and a secretary to former National People's Congress chairman Qiao Shi, also told the Post earlier at the NPC that: "From what I've learned, Zhou will work for the top procuratorate, rather than the SPC. For the top court, Cao Jianming now appears to have a better chance."

Chen added that he and Zhou were close friends. Chen recalled the time he told Zhou over the phone that he would be visiting a Law Society branch in Hunan. Zhou suggested that he accompany him. Chen commended Zhou's commitment to legal affairs over the years.

Zhou received a masters degree at the prestigious Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing . He worked in the Ministry of Justice for 10 years after graduating in 1985 before being named to a senior job in the Communist Youth League, Hu's power base.

Another source close to the SPP said that Cao, the 57-year-old current procurator-general, would vacate his office while his deputy Hu Zejun would be made minister of justice, succeeding Wu Aiying , who was retiring.

Cao's appointment as top judge would cause a few ripples because he was SPC vice-president for a decade before being surprisingly moved to head the prosecutor's department in 2008.

Intriguingly, most Hunan delegates, including a senior subordinate of Zhou in Hunan, tend to believe in another version.

When asked whether Zhou would be promoted to head the SPP, He Binsheng , another legislator who was president of Changsha Medical University, said Zhou would likely be named president of the highest court.

Two other sources - one who worked directly under Zhou in Hunan and another who was a prefectural-level legal official in Beijing and considered to be a close ally - said last week that Zhou would be named top judge in the annual legislative meeting.

Zhou, meanwhile, was tight-lipped. When approached by the Post on March 7, he smiled but declined to drop any hints.

Either option means Zhou - once seen as being groomed to be among the sixth generation leaders that will succeed Xi Jinping - has little chance of entering the Politburo Standing Committee a decade from now.