Former Fujian party secretary Chen Mingyi was yesterday named chairman of the Fujian People's Political Consultative Conference, in a move which further puts him in the political wilderness following the mainland's biggest smuggling scandal.
Mr Chen stepped down in December apparently to take leadership responsibility for the multi-billion-yuan Yuan Hua smuggling scandal. Although Mr Chen was not known to be involved, several key suspects were promoted during his tenure as party secretary of the province.
His appointment to the consultative conference is a backward step as it is an advisory body with no real political power.
Mr Chen has been succeeded by Song Defu, former minister of personnel and a close ally of Vice-President Hu Jintao.
Joining Mr Chen in the latest reshuffle was He Shaochuan, former Fujian deputy secretary, and Fuzhou mayor Weng Fulin. Mr He becomes a vice-chairman of the conference and Mr Weng a standing committee member.
The changes were announced yesterday when the consultative conference held its annual session. Analysts say the changes are a clear indication that Beijing is moving to clean up the province's tarnished reputation by sidelining even those officials not directly implicated in the scandal.
Sources said new appointments would soon be announced and several senior cadres would take up posts in the consultative conference and the lawmaking body, the Fujian People's Congress. They include Huang Songlu, who is the party secretary in charge of law and order in Fujian. Sources said Mr Huang would soon be named a vice-chairman of the people's congress.
He was said to have been sidelined because he helped promote former Xiamen deputy police chief Zhuang Rushun, a key figure in the scandal.
But there were also promotions. Lu Zhangong, a former vice-chairman of the official trade union, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, and Liang Qiping, currently the secretary in charge of party discipline in Fujian, will be named deputy party secretaries of the province.