Zhao proteges selected

A LARGE number of liberal economists and proteges of former Communist Party boss Mr Zhao Ziyang were appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) yesterday.

According to the official New China News Agency (NCNA), in addition to the dozens of liberal scholars appointed, including Mr Gao Shangquan, Mr Liu Hongru, Mr Wu Jinglian and Mr Luo Yuanzheng who used to advise the former party boss, Mr Rui Xingwen, a close aide of Mr Zhao, was also chosen to join the consultative body.

Their influence is expected to be further strengthened by the inclusion of a number of senior Communist Party leaders in the CPPCC.

Although their appointments have yet to be confirmed, they are expected to include the Communist Party politburo Standing Committee member Mr Li Ruihuan and Sichuan Party Secretary Mr Yang Ruidao.

A Chinese source said the strong showing of the so-called ''Zhao camp'' within the CPPCC might have paved the way for their ''comeback to political power'' after three years in political exile since Mr Zhao's downfall in 1989.

Moreover, a number of liberal intellectuals, including former cultural minister Mr Wang Meng and dissident playwright Wu Zuguang, have also been either appointed or re-appointed to the organisation.