Xi's ally Li Qiang named Shanghai party boss

Mr Li Qiang (left), the former Jiangsu party boss, replaces Mr Han Zheng, who joined the elite PSC last week.
Mr Li Qiang (above), the former Jiangsu party boss, replaces Mr Han Zheng, who joined the elite PSC last week.

BEIJING • Mr Li Qiang, an ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been named the top Communist Party official in Shanghai, replacing Mr Han Zheng who last week joined the elite Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday.

Mr Xi unveiled a new senior leadership team last Wednesday at the end of the twice-a-decade congress, with new members appointed to the three elite party bodies that run China.

Over the next few weeks and months, a series of other reshuffles will take place.

Xinhua said in a brief notice that Mr Li, 58, would take up the party secretary post in Shanghai and no longer serve in the top spot in Jiangsu province, according to a "decision of the Central Committee", which at 204 members is the largest of the party's ruling bodies.

The move places Mr Xi's allies in China's four major municipalities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing - power centres on a par administratively with provinces.

On Saturday, Mr Li Xi, 61, who is also an ally of Mr Xi, was appointed party secretary of Guangdong province, replacing Mr Hu Chunhua, 54.

Also close to Mr Xi are Beijing party secretary Cai Qi, 61, Chongqing party chief Chen Min'er, 56, and Tianjin party boss Li Hongzhong, 61.

The incoming Shanghai party boss, Mr Li Qiang, is a native of the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang. He was secretary-general of the provincial party committee under Mr Xi when the latter was Zhejiang party boss from 2002 to 2007.

Born in Wenzhou - a city known for entrepreneurship and a vibrant private economy - in 1959, Mr Li studied agricultural mechanisation at the Zhejiang Institute of Agriculture. His first job was at an electromechanical irrigation and drainage station in Rui'an in Wenzhou city.

He was appointed party boss of Wenzhou in 2002 at 43, making him the youngest person to take up that position in more than three decades, according to South China Morning Post.

Mr Li was appointed to the 25-member Politburo, which is under the PSC, last Wednesday, and Reuters' sources had tipped him to take on the Shanghai job. He is seen as a strong contender to be further promoted to the PSC at the next congress in 2022.

All Shanghai party secretaries since 1989 save one have ended up with a seat on the top body, which calls the shots in governance of the world's second-largest economy.

The current Shanghai party chief, Mr Han, is tipped to be the first vice-premier in the State Council, or Cabinet. Mr Xi was Shanghai party boss for seven months in 2007.

Xinhua said another known Xi ally, Mr Lou Qinjian, replaced Mr Li as Jiangsu party secretary, stepping down as party boss in Mr Xi's home province of Shaanxi, a post in turn filled by Mr Hu Heping.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SEE WORLD: Xi allies at the helm in Shanghai and Guangdong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 30, 2017, with the headline 'Xi's ally Li Qiang named Shanghai party boss'. Print Edition | Subscribe