Gong Zheng, veteran ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, named acting governor of Shandong

Office had been left vacant since Guo Shuqing departed for Beijing to head the country’s top bank regulator in late February

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 April, 2017, 11:47pm

An official who has spent a long time working in President Xi Jinping’s power base was appointed acting governor of Shandong province on Tuesday, filling an office left vacant for more than a month.

Gong Zheng, 57, was appointed by the province’s rubber-stamp legislature as the province’s acting governor, according to the province’s official media.

The office has been left vacant since former governor Guo Shuqing departed for Beijing to head the country’s top bank regulator in late February. But Guo only resigned as governor a month later.

Gong worked in Zhejiang from 2008 to 2015. Xi ruled Zhejiang from 2003 to 2007, first as governor and later as party boss. Many of Xi’s former colleagues in Zhejiang have been given important jobs in higher offices in the past four years, including Cai Qi, mayor of Beijing, and Huang Kunming, deputy director of the central publicity department.

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Xi left the province in 2007 and has not worked with Gong directly. But Gong’s experience in Zhejiang, first as a deputy governor and later as Hangzhou’s party boss, had provided him access to Xi’s former subordinates who later rose to important offices.

Gong was appointed Shandong deputy party boss in 2015, a position equivalent to governor-in-waiting.

Meanwhile, a former aide to Xi at the party’s top financial leading group was appointed governor of Gansu on Tuesday. Tang Renjian, 55, was appointed to govern the northwest province, according to the Gansu Daily, the province’s official newspaper.

Tang worked at the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs for 17 years. Tang left the group briefly in 2014 and returned in 2016. He was the deputy director of the group’s general office. The group has been chaired by Xi since 2012, and is considered a central decision-making body for key economic policies.

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Tang started working as the province’s deputy party chief in March.

Tang is filling a vacancy left by Lin Duo, who was promoted as the province’s party chief. Lin, 61, was considered a protégé of the party’s anti-graft chief Wang Qishan. Lin worked under Wang in the early 2000s in Beijing, while Wang was mayor. In an abnormal move, Lin was assigned the provincial anti-graft chief of Liaoning in 2014, two years after Wang took on the new task if fighting corruption. Before that, Lin was a party boss of Harbin, Heilongjiang province.