Mon, Sep 03, 2012 - Page 1 News List

China embarks on reshuffle ahead of leadership change

AFP, BEIJING

The Chinese Communist Party has announced a reshuffle to a key post, state press said yesterday, a move seen as ushering in a once-a-decade leadership transition later this year.

Li Zhanshu (栗戰書), 62, former head of Guizhou Province, on Saturday was named to head the party’s powerful Politburo general office, the People’s Daily reported, a job that puts Li in charge of the party’s day-to-day workings.

Li replaces Ling Jihua (令計劃), outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) top aide, who has been named to head the party’s United Front Work Department, the paper said.

As part of the leadership transition, Hu will step down as the party’s general-secretary — the top party post — at a party congress expected to take place in the coming weeks, and resign from the presidency at a parliamentary meeting in March next year, ending his 10 years as China’s top leader.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) is slated to replace Hu in both posts.

“The new guy has good relations with Hu Jintao and also has ties with the new incoming leader,” said Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based consultant and writer of the Sinocism China Newsletter.

“He will be an extremely influential person in Beijing, the party general-secretary needs someone like this who is competent and can be trusted,” Bishop said. “More importantly, this is really an indication that things are on track and that the next party congress is reasonably imminent.”

No dates for the congress have been announced, but it is widely expected to take place next month. China’s authoritarian politics take place largely in secret.

Analysts believe the transition has been hampered by the ouster of charismatic politician Bo Xilai (薄熙來), whose wife was given a suspended death sentence last month for the murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Before the murder scandal broke in February, Bo had been seen as a candidate for promotion to China’s top ruling body, the party’s Politburo Standing Committee.

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