The leadership change in China’s cabinet signals a significant power shift in the regime’s top ranks. The new appointees are mostly allies of new Party chief Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao, while former Party head Jiang Zemin was not able to bring in any new allies.
China’s National People’s Congress, the Communist Party’s rubber-stamp legislature, inaugurated Party leader Xi Jinping as the new state leader on March 14, and Li Keqiang as premier the following day.
It also unveiled a new lineup of State Council officials, including nine new ministers and four new vice premiers, mostly allies of Xi and Hu, indicating that they are succeeding in minimizing the influence of Jiang and his loyalists.
Li Yuanchao was named vice president, after Xi Jinping fended off a bid by Jiang Zemin to install propaganda czar Liu Yuanshan.
Among the four new vice premiers, Ma Kai is the protégé of former premier Wen Jiabao, and was economic planning minister after Wen took the post as premier. Wang Yang is a key player in the Communist Youth League, which is also Hu Jintao’s power base. Liu Yandong, the CCP’s only female politburo member, is also considered a stalwart Hu ally.
The State Council launched an institutional restructuring plan on March 10, with the number of ministries reduced to 25, two fewer than previously.
Of the 25 members, nine are new appointees, including Finance Minister Lou Jiwei, Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, and Defense Minister Chang Wanquan.
Lou climbed the Party ladder under the patronage of former premier Zhu Rongji, Wang is a Wen Jiabao protégé, and Chang was promoted to general of the People’s Liberation Army and later a member of the Central Military Commission during Hu Jintao’s era.
Another protégé of Wen’s is Xu Shaoshi, the new Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission. Wen and Xu worked for the Ministry of Land and Resources in the 1980s and have since had a close relationship.
Gao Hucheng, the new Commerce Minister, was an assistant to Wu Yi, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation in 1997, and a vice premier from 2003 to 2008.
In the State Council’s institutional restructuring plan, the Health Ministry and the Railways Ministry were respectively merged and broken up.
The Health Ministry, and the Family Planning Commission have been merged into the new National Health and Family Planning Commission. Consequently, the job of deputy health Huang Jiefu, the vice minister of health, was eliminated.
The Ministry of Railways, notorious for massive corruption, was abolished. Administrative functions pertaining to railway development and policies will now be covered by the Ministry of Transportation. The proposed China Railway Corporation will carry out the commercial function of the dismantled railway ministry.
The Ministry of Railways has often been described by observers as “a state within a state,” and has long been under the control of the Jiang faction, according to Willy Lam, a longtime observer of Chinese politics.
Shi Zangshan, an independent commentator on Chinese political affairs, drew attention to the way that the two major restructuring revolved around Jiang Zemin, the former regime leader. “The Ministry of Railways was controlled by corrupt officials from Jiang’s faction,” Shi told The Epoch Times. “The reorganization of the Health Ministry and Huang Jiefu losing his job did not happen by accident.”
For years, Huang was the public face of the PRC’s organ transplant program. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of organs were harvested from prisoners of conscience, most of them Falun Gong practitioners. Jiang Zemin is closely associated with the persecution of Falun Gong, since it was his pet political campaign launched in 1999, and which continues to this day.
Shi said: “The fact that the two ministries with close ties to Jiang’s faction were targeted indicates that the restructuring plan is a purging of Jiang’s faction in the name of reform.”
Translation and research by Jane Lin. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.
Read the original Chinese article.
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