Li Keqiang

Rising star to organise 30th anniversary gala

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 January, 2008, 12:00am


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The brightest rising star in mainland politics, Xi Jinping, has been put in charge of the highly symbolic preparations for the 30th anniversary of Beijing's reform and opening-up policies, a Hong Kong-based magazine reported yesterday.

The Communist Party would launch a series of events to celebrate mainland accomplishments during the past three decades, which would culminate in an end-of-year conclave attended by the party's elite, the Mirror reported.

Mr Xi, 54, who shot into the top leadership at the 17th National Congress last year when he joined the Politburo Standing Committee, would draft the keynote speech to be delivered by Communist Party chief Hu Jintao .

The former Shanghai party chief had also been entrusted with setting out reform strategies for the next five years, including a push for further economic restructuring, it added.

Alongside the Olympic Games, the anniversary celebration will be a big theme for the party this year. It views both as perfect opportunities to boost its legitimacy.

Mr Xi's new responsibilities were the latest sign that he would succeed Mr Hu as the country's top leader in five years, analysts said.

Ten days ago, he was shown on state television making an inspection tour of Xibaipo village in Hebei province - a key revolutionary base - which has been a rite of passage for all top Communist leaders.

Mr Xi now looks set to replace Zeng Qinghong as vice-president at the March annual meeting of the National People's Congress.

This year's NPC meeting will see a sweeping reshuffle of the State Council - the cabinet - which will thrust some of the so-called fifth-generation leaders onto centre stage.

Three of the four vice-premiers and all five state councillors would be replaced, the magazine said.

The cabinet would also possibly add one more vice-premier to take care of social development. Liu Yandong , formerly head of the United Front Department in charge of liaison with non-communist parties, would be given the job, the magazine said.

Li Keqiang , another newcomer to the Politburo Standing Committee, is most likely to become the executive vice-premier in charge of industry and finance.

Former Guangdong party chief Zhang Dejiang and former Beijing mayor Wang Qishan would be named vice-premiers, with portfolios covering trade and construction, respectively.