Tag Archives: Wang Yang

A Big Test For Little Hu

Hu ChunhuaHu Chunhua (right) has already been pencilled in by China long-term watchers as a likely successor to President Xi Jinping in 2022. So Hu’s appointment as Party boss in Guangdong is particularly noteworthy. It not only takes him from one end of the country to the other–his most recent post was as Party chief in Inner Mongolia–but it also sets him atop one of the highest profile provinces. This will let him broaden his experience and prove his abilities in a big province. Guangdong is China’s largest provincial economy, about the same size as Holland’s and four times the size of Inner Mongolia’s.

It will also test Hu on a bigger stage and under a harsher spotlight. Hu, who as a protege of outgoing President Hu Jintao is known as little Hu, earned his stripes running under-developed inland places with ethnic minorities considered tough to govern. Rich, coastal and relatively liberal Guangdong, with its large migrant population and manufacturing rather than resource-based economy (Hu has long connections with the coal industry), will present a new set of administrative challenges. Public expectations of his performance, set by his predecessor Wang Yang, who is moving on to an as yet unnamed job following his unsuccessful bid for a place in the Politburo, will also be very different. Hu will have to demonstrate not only his competence but also his ability to manage how that competence is perceived. He is not only being groomed. He is also being tested.

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Chongqing, Corruption And The Next Generation of National Leaders

This Bystander will leave to others the more lurid details of the trial and conviction of the Chongqing “Godmother”, Xie Caiping. The 46-year old has been sentenced to 18 years in gaol for running  illegal gambling dens in nightclubs and casinos, harboring drug users, running protection rackets and bribing police. The court also fined her 1 million yuan, though she is said to have made twice that from her illegal activities. Twenty one other people were sentenced with her, to between one and 13 years in prison.

Her trial was the most spectacular turn in a crackdown on crime and corruption in Chongqing that has been underway since the middle of the year. Hundreds of people have been arrested, including Xie’s brother-in-law and former head of the judiciary in the city, among several high level officials.

In the past decade, as Beijing has sought to open up the West, Chongqing has changed from being a provincial backwater to a free wheeling place dominated by the black societies living off the new money that has flowed in. It became known as the place to gamble and party, with all the dark side — the corruption and the protection rackets — those vices attract. That sits uneasily with the vision of the city having the national standing of a Shanghai or Nanjing that its party boss, Bo Xilai, has been pushing.

Bo is a rising star in national politics, having joined the Politburo in 2007, the same year he was appointed head of the party in the city. It is he who has been behind the crackdown, even though it is revealing a deep connection between mobsters and city officials. Chongqing has also bread another rising star, Wang Yang, who moved up from being city party secretary to party boss in Guangdong. With the 2012 succession to Hu and Wen fast approaching, it is not too much of a stretch to see Chongqing as being used as a proving ground for national leaders, much as Shanghai was a generation ago for Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji, who would go on to be president and prime minister respectively.


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