Baidu chairman Robin Li (李彥宏), China’s third-richest man, and Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), No. 4 in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hierarchy, were named to the country’s top political advisory body as a new generation of leaders prepares for power.
Yu is the only member of the Politburo Standing Committee to be appointed as one of the 2,237 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), indicating he will replace Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) as chairman of the body next month. Delegates are usually appointed for a five-year term.
The new list of members was published on Saturday by Xinhua news agency as the nation prepares to hold its annual session of parliament next month that will complete a once-a-decade leadership transfer. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who took over from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) as general secretary of the CCP in November last year, is set to consolidate his power by taking over as president, while Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang (李克強), No. 2 in the party hierarchy, will replace Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) as premier.
“The CPPCC has been quite disappointing,” said Willy Lam (林和立), an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who specializes in Chinese politics. “There were hopes that it would evolve into a kind of upper house legislature like the House of Lords in the UK, but basically it’s still a talking shop and a means for the CCP to dole out rewards.”
Membership is a badge of honor and status, offering networking opportunities for those who join, while also sending a “subtle message” that people must behave and not embarrass the party, Lam said.
The CPPCC advises the National People’s Congress, and has committees that include economic affairs, population and ethnic and religious affairs.
It is made up of delegates from political parties, quasi-government organizations such as the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, businesspeople and independent members with no political affiliation.
Robin Li, 44, is also co-founder and chief executive of Baidu, the nation’s biggest search engine.
People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川) and Minister of Commerce Chen Deming (陳德銘) become new members of the national committee, a further indication that they will leave their current posts.
Their appointments are a traditional “career” move for retired ministers, Lam said.
Yu, former CCP secretary of Shanghai, is certain to take over from Jia as chairman of the CPPCC, Lam said.
He is unlikely to “rock the boat,” Lam said.
“He is not a particularly proactive politician, but he’s a middle-of-the-roader who is acceptable to most factions,” Lam said.
Li Shufu (李書福), the founder of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group; Yang Yuanqing (楊元慶), Lenovo Group’s chairman and chief executive officer; and Li Xiaolin (李小琳), chairman and chief executive officer of China Power International Development and the daughter of former premier Li Peng (李鵬), are among those reappointed to the committee.
Liu Yonghao (劉永好), chairman of New Hope Liuhe, China’s biggest poultry supplier, was among the names omitted from the list.
Hu Deping (胡德平), the son of late CCP general secretary Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦), was also dropped, a move Lam said was expected due to his age.
In November last year, Hu Deping called on leaders to pursue political and economic changes, writing in the Economic Observer newspaper that China’s problems threatened the nation’s healthy development, violated people’s rights and undermined the party’s ability to govern.