Defector's brother named head of China's top political advisory body

BEIJING (AFP) - A senior Chinese politician whose brother defected to the United States in a major spy scandal was on Monday elected as chairman of the country's highest-profile advisory organisation.

Mr Yu Zhengsheng, who ranks as No. 4 in the Communist Party's ruling seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, was made head of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). He is regarded as one of the party's "princelings" but has had to overcome major setbacks during his career.

As well as the 1985 defection of his brother Yu Qiangsheng, an intelligence official, his father Yu Qiwei was also once married to Mao Zedong's fourth wife Jiang Qing, who was blamed for many of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution.

A 700-word biography of Mr Yu put out by Xinhua mentioned neither his father nor his brother, but said he graduated from the Harbin Military Engineering Institute and specialised in ballistic missile control systems.

The CPPCC is currently holding its annual meeting in Beijing, in parallel with the National People's Congress, China's rubberstamp Parliament. It is a purely advisory body with little political clout and some non-communist members, but it is given a high profile as part of the ruling party's efforts to appear consultative and democratic rather than hierarchical.

Delegates include prominent citizens such as scientists, business owners and artists, with Nobel literature prize winner Mo Yan, basketball star Yao Ming and Hong Kong movie actor Jackie Chan among them this year.