Scores of incumbent and recently retired ministers, provincial officials and senior military officers were elected members of the National People's Congress Standing Committee yesterday in the only competitive election during the annual sessions of China's top legislature and its top advisory body.
A total of 173 NPC deputies contested the 161 NPC Standing Committee seats. In the other so-called elections during the two weeks of sessions, the number of seats equalled the number of candidates.
Outgoing Finance Minister Xie Xuren and Sheng Guangzhu, the former railways minister who lost his job due to the recent axing of the ministry as a result of cabinet restructuring were both elected members of the NPC Standing Committee.
Former Guangdong governor Huang Huahua, former Sichuan governor Jiang Jufeng, former Fujian governor Huang Xiaojing, former Zhejiang governor Lu Zhushan, former Hebei Communist Party chief Zhang Yunchuan, former Guizhou party chief Shi Zongyuan, former Gansu party chief Lu Hao and former Hubei party chief Luo Qingquan also became standing members for the next five years.
General Zhang Qingsheng, an outgoing deputy chief of general staff of the People's Liberation Army, and General Li Shiming, commander of the Chengdu Military Command, both became new members of the NPC Standing Committee. They both failed to secure membership of the party's powerful Central Committee in November, and it is generally believed they will retire soon.
Apart from Zhang and Li, other NPC Standing Committee members with military backgrounds included General Chen Guoling, retired political commissar with the Nanjing Military Command, General Deng Changyou, former political commissar of the Air Force, General Wang Xibin, the president of the University of National Defence, and General Chi Wanchun , former political commissar of the General Armaments Department.
Notable names who lost in the competitive election included former Anhui party boss Wang Jinshan, former Chongqing mayor Wang Hongju, former deputy public security minister Bai Jinfu, and General Liu Dongdong, former political commissar with the Jinan Military Command.
Twenty-three of the deputies who cast opposing votes, and thus got the chance to nominate new candidates, nominated Li Jiang, the chairman of Hunan's people's congress, to be an NPC Standing Committee member, even though he was not on the shortlist recommended by the NPC presidium.
Zhong Faping, a businessman and NPC deputy from Changsha, Hunan's capital, said: "Li is a clean and honest official who is respected and enjoys a good reputation. He is very popular even in other provinces." Dr Zhong Nanshan, the mainland's leading expert on respiratory diseases, was also nominated for membership of the NPC Standing Committee by three deputies.