Former surbordinates of China President Xi Jinping elevated to head Beijing, Shanghai

Beijing mayor Cai Qi speaks at the opening of the Beijing People's Congress on Jan 14, 2017.
Beijing mayor Cai Qi speaks at the opening of the Beijing People's Congress on Jan 14, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Two former subordinates of Chinese President Xi Jinping were named the mayors of Beijing and Shanghai on Friday (Jan 20), appointments that help set the stage for a party leadership reshuffle later this year.  

Cai Qi, 61, who has been acting mayor of Beijing since October, crossed paths with Xi over two decades in two provinces, including various senior positions.

Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong, 59, who had been deputy mayor since September, rose steadily under Xi when he led the eastern province of Zhejiang between 2003 and 2007.  

Friday’s appointments came on the closing day of annual parliamentary sessions in both municipalities, and are part of a sweep of local government changes in preparation for the 19th Party Congress.

Xi was designated the party’s “core” leader three months ago, enhancing his ability to push his agenda and promote favored officials during the twice-a-decade reshuffle.  

A string of former Xi associates have been promoted over the past few months. More changes at the top of local governments and party’s ranks are expected before the congress, scheduled for the fourth quarter of the year.  

Cai served under Xi in the southeastern province of Fujian and later in the eastern province of Zhejiang. He was appointed deputy chief of the National Security Commission in 2014, a national-level agency created by Xi, who heads the commission.

Ying also served under Xi in Zhejiang, rising from a position at the public security bureau to deputy head of the anti-corruption watchdog, becoming provincial chief justice in 2006.

Ying was transferred to head the top municipal court in Shanghai in 2007 after Xi’s brief stint there as party chief.  

Friday’s appointments complete a changing of the mayoral guard at China’s four centrally administered municipalities.  

Zhang Guoqing, 52, a former executive from military contractor China North Industries Group Corp., or Norinco, was recently named mayor of the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing.

Wang Dongfeng, 58, who is from Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, became the top government official in the northern port of Tianjin in November.