Publication: China Brief Volume: 3 Issue: 2

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Personnel issues are set to dominate the First Session of the Tenth National People’s Congress (NPC), due to convene on March 5. After having nailed down a sizeable number of senior Communist Party slots at the 16th CCP Congress last November, the Jiang Zemin (Shanghai) Faction is also expected to hit it big with positions in the State Council (central government). These developments will have a significant impact on factional dynamics, particularly whether new party chief Hu Jintao can consolidate his position as the “core” of the Fourth Generation of cadres.

Since he became premier in 1998, Zhu Rongji, aged 74, has to a large extent been able to resist Jiang’s attempts to install his protégés in the State Council. Since 2000, for example, Zhu has vetoed the effort to elevate Li Changchun, then party boss of Guangdong Province, to the post of vice premier. Li was so angry that he complained to his Guangdong associates about how Zhu “almost wrecked” his career. At this NPC, Zhu will be able to ensure cabinet appointments for a number of trusted aides and underlings. Thus his right-hand-man Wen Jiabao, 60, is set to be endorsed as premier. Another key associate, Wu Yi, 64, is due to be made vice premier in charge of foreign affairs and foreign trade.

For the first time since Jiang became party chief in 1989, however, the wily party elder has been able to promote a sizeable number of Shanghai Faction associates to key cabinet slots. They include Huang Ju, Zeng Peiyan, and Hui Liangyu, who are slated to become respectively executive vice premier, vice premier in charge of industry, and vice premier in charge of agriculture. Hua Jianmin, another rising star with a long association with Shanghai, is tipped to become State Council secretary general.