Proteges of CCP disciplinary chief scaling party ladder

Analysts say President Xi tapping Wang Qishan's allies for key jobs

China's new Civil Affairs Minister Huang Shuxian (left) and State Security Minister Chen Wenqing.
China's new Civil Affairs Minister Huang Shuxian (left) and State Security Minister Chen Wenqing.

The spotlight has been on President Xi Jinping's allies taking top posts ahead of the leadership reshuffle next year, but Chinese Communist Party (CCP) disciplinary chief Wang Qishan's subordinates and proteges are going places too.

Two of the three new appointments in Monday's Cabinet reshuffle - Civil Affairs Minister Huang Shuxian and State Security Minister Chen Wenqing - have worked in the party's Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI) as Mr Wang's deputies.

Mr Chen, 56, is still on the CCDI standing committee, after stepping down as its deputy last year when he was appointed party secretary of the State Security Ministry. Mr Huang, 62, who served as Supervision Minister from 2013, remains one of the CCDI's six deputies, a post he took up in 2007.

On the rise too are Mr Wang's former subordinates in his previous roles as Beijing mayor (2004- 2007), president of the state- owned China Construction Bank (1994-1997) and vice-governor of Guangdong province (1998-2000).

One of them is newly appointed party boss of Hubei province Jiang Chaoliang, 59. Mr Jiang, former chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China, worked with Mr Wang in tackling the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, when he headed the central bank's Shenzhen and Guangzhou offices.

Analysts say Mr Xi is likely tapping on Mr Wang's allies for key posts to counter criticism that he has been promoting his former colleagues from his days in Fujian and Zhejiang, such as Beijing's newly appointed acting mayor Cai Qi.

"But it is still not a big pool of people to choose from and Xi has promoted whomever he can in the past four years. It is helpful and necessary for him to tap on Wang's people," Hong Kong-based analyst Willy Lam told The Straits Times.

It helps that some of Mr Wang's proteges could be said to have secured promotions based on merit.

For instance, Ms Huang Xiaowei, 55, a member of the CCDI standing committee, was appointed in 2014 as Shanxi's disciplinary chief after several high-level sackings turned the northern province into a "disaster zone" in Mr Xi's anti-graft drive.

She was promoted to be Shanxi's deputy party chief in September, after probing more than 30 cadres.

Chinese politics expert Li Cheng of the Brookings Institution, in his book Chinese Politics In The Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership, published this year, also cited Gansu governor Lin Duo, 60, as a Wang ally.

Mr Lin had served under Mr Wang as party boss of Beijing's Xicheng district, and returned to work for his former boss after being appointed as Liaoning province's disciplinary chief in 2014.

A month before Mr Lin was posted to north-western Gansu, the CCP placed former Liaoning party chief Wang Min under investigations in March this year.

Professor Lam said Mr Xi may be viewing the CCDI cadres as becoming more crucial in his vision to enforce tighter discipline within the CCP and across the country, which was unveiled at a recent leadership meeting through the revision of two disciplinary regulations.

"Xi is trying to set new standards and the CCDI cadres are the most ideal in enforcing his policies and ensuring a high moral conduct among others," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 10, 2016, with the headline 'Proteges of CCP disciplinary chief scaling party ladder'. Subscribe