Wei Liucheng's appointment is a sign of the corporate elite's rising influence Wei Liucheng, a leading businessman, has been appointed governor of Hainan, in a break with the tradition of Communist Party bureaucrats landing such prominent positions. Mr Wei is chairman and chief executive officer of Hong Kong-listed CNOOC, the mainland's largest offshore oil conglomerate. He is expected to be appointed acting governor, replacing Wang Xiaofeng who remains as party boss of the province, sources close to the company said yesterday. Mr Wei, 55, is expected to be confirmed as governor after the local provincial People's Congress convenes to endorse the appointment, which is a formality. One source said Mr Wei had already reported for duty and news of his appointment should be made over the next few days. Considered one of the mainland's most astute business managers, he looks destined to move on to higher things following the landmark 16th Congress of the Communist Party, which agreed to tap the country's business elite from both the state and private sectors to shake up the bureaucracy. At the congress held last November, Mr Wei was inducted as an alternate member of the party's powerful Central Committee, along with several industrial bosses from the big state companies. Born to a poor peasant family in Henan province, Mr Wei is well respected by the international business community as being open-minded and having a western outlook on corporate management. Although he was not known to harbour any political ambitions, he has apparently been groomed as a rising political star. Other private sector businessmen loyal to the party have been promoted to roles in prestigious but less important organisations such as the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It remains unclear how Mr Wei's departure will affect operations of CNOOC. He played a vital role in restructuring the state-controlled offshore oil assets for a dual listing in Hong Kong and New York in February 2001. Fu Chengyu, vice-president of the parent company, will replace Mr Wei on an interim basis. Officials from CNOOC and Hainan province declined to comment yesterday.