Xi Jinping's close ally tipped for next mayor of Beijing

HONG KONG • A close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping is tipped to be the new mayor of Beijing, reported the Sunday Morning Post, citing several sources.

Mr Cai Qi has been deputy director of the Central National Security Commission (CNSC) since 2014. Set up in late 2013 to coordinate and oversee national security issues, the commission is chaired by Mr Xi.

Mr Cai would replace Mayor Wang Anshun, who is rumoured to be moving to the Development Research Centre of the State Council, said the Hong Kong newspaper.

If confirmed, the appointment of the 61-year-old Mr Cai could be the start of a new round of personnel changes after the recently concluded sixth plenum of the Communist Party.

He previously worked in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang, which are Mr Xi's power bases.

"He (Cai) will be appointed as Beijing mayor later this year, and possibly become party chief of the capital next year," another source told the Post.

The current Beijing party chief is Mr Guo Jinlong, who is widely seen as a loyal henchman of former president Hu Jintao.

According to the Post, Mr Cai is widely viewed as an open-minded official. He regularly made his views known to the public on his Tencent Weibo microblog. He had 10 million followers before the account was frozen.

Dubbed "Uncle Qi" on social media, he was lauded online in 2013 after a mother in Zhejiang sought his help. At the time, he was overseeing organisation and personnel in the province.

The woman's 27-year-old son complained that he was forced to drink with his supervisors at work. Mr Cai replied: "Tell me which department your son works in and he won't need to drink anymore."

In another new appointment, Mr Jiang Chaoliang, 59, a former governor of Jilin province, was promoted to party chief of Hubei province, Xinhua news agency reported.

Mr Jiang was a top aide to Mr Wang Qishan, the party's top graft-buster and one of Mr Xi's closest allies in the party.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2016, with the headline 'Xi Jinping's close ally tipped for next mayor of Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe