Reformer handed anti-corruption role

CHINA’S top economic reformer, Wang Qishan, has been charged with tackling corruption within the ruling Communist Party, with the lesser-known party chief of Tianjin, Zhang Gaoli, set to take over day-to-day management of the world’s second-largest economy.

In a once-in-a-decade leadership reshuffle in Beijing on Thursday, China’s new president, Xi Jinping, announced the composition of the party’s seven-member ruling elite, the Politburo Standing Committee.

Along with the majority of his new standing committee colleagues, Mr Zhang, the party secretary of port city Tianjin, has been labelled by some analysts as conservative, favouring continuity and status quo in the ruling party’s ideology rather than bold reform.

Analysts have expressed concern over the political will of the party to push through urgent reforms needed in the country’s dominant state-owned sector after the country’s outgoing president, Hu Jintao, stressed last week the importance of the state-owned sector remaining strong.

”Normal service is resumed,” a Beijing-based analyst with research firm China Policy, David Kelly, said. ”This is an administration which will not introduce deep reforms immediately. We need to see how much political capital they can accumulate, how they can settle some of the embarrassing situations in the elite – but in general it’s going to be normal service.”

But a University of Sydney professor, Hans Hendrischke, pointed out that Mr Zhang was heavily involved in extensive economic reforms in the thriving technology hub of Shenzhen.

”And he has been posted to Tianjin, where he had to make a transition from state-owned enterprises as a basis of the economy, to a slow move towards private enterprise, foreign joint ventures and special economic zones,” Professor Hendrischke said.

The governor of the People’s Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, was left out of the party’s 200-strong central committee. The respected central banker is expected to retire. Guo Shuqing, the reform-minded head of China’s securities regulatory commission, is touted as a probable successor.

A record number of Chinese bankers and regulators – five – have been appointed to the central committee, on top of six alternate members, ensuring that the interest of China’s largest banks and financial regulators will be voiced at the highest level.

In his speech at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Mr Xi repeated warnings by the outgoing Mr Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao that corruption among Chinese leaders posed the greatest threat to the survival of the ruling Communist Party, and even of the state.

The other members of the Politburo Standing Committee will be Li Keqiang, who replaces Mr Wen as Premier, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Liu Yunshan.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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