11/15/2012, 00.00
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The new members of the CPC politburo (An overview)

The Standing Committee of the Politburo includes the new General Secretary of the Communist Party Xi Jinping, Deputy Premier Li Keqiang; North Korea-educated Zhang Dejiang; Shanghai party chief Yu Zhengsheng; propaganda boss Liu Yunshan; party discipline chief Wang Qishan; and Tianjin City boss Zhang Gaoli.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Together with the new secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), six important officials will lead the new China. They are: Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan, and Zhang Gaoli. Some are reformers; others are conservative princelings, children or grandchildren of high ranking party officials. What follows is an overview of the members of the new politburo under the new CPC General Secretary Xi Xinping.

Xi Jinping - Considered a "cautious" reformer, the new general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a 59-year-old member of the princeling generation, i.e. the children of the revolutionaries who made modern China. His father Xi Zhongxun was a former vice premier, famous for fighting alongside Mao during China's civil war. Originally from a poor district in Shaanxi province (north-western China), the new party secretary was sent to work the land in north-western China where he became a rural official. After studying chemical engineering at Beijing's Tsinghua University, he followed with a doctorate in Marxist theory. In those years, he was an active member of the Communist Youth League. His rise to power began in 1999 when he was appointed head of Fujian province. In 2003, he became party chief in the neighbouring province of Zhejiang. This was followed in 2007 by his appointment as party boss in Shanghai after the then local party secretary Chen Liangyu had to quit over a scandal. In the same year, he was promoted to the politburo's standing committee. Divorced, he is currently married to Peng Liyuan, a famous singer. His daughter Xi Minge has been studying at Harvard University under an assumed name since 2010.

Li Keqiang - The new premier will replace Wen Jiabao next March. He too is considered a 'cautious" reformer in view of his university background. Son of a former rural official, Li, 57, is a native of Anhui province (eastern China). Like Xi Jinping, he was sent to rural provinces to work during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) where he became a member of the Communist Party and leader of his work brigade. After leaving his home town, he studied law at Peking University, the first university to teach law after Mao's Cultural Revolution. During that period, he also studied English and the Common Law tradition, translating Due Process by Lord Denning, a famous British legal scholar. His rise to prominence began in 1983 when he joined the Communist Party's Youth League, which Hu Jintao led at the time. In subsequent years, he was appointed party chief first in Liaoning, a cold province in north-eastern China, moving later to rural Henan to take up the post of party chief. In 2007, he joined the politburo's standing committee.

Zhang Dejiang - Educated at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang (North Korea), Zhang is considered a conservative. He replaced Bo Xilai as Chongqing party chief after the latter's ouster. He will serve as vice premier in charge of energy and telecommunications. Originally from northern China, he rose to the post of party secretary in northeast China's Jilin province in 1995. He entered the Politburo in 2002, moving to take over Guangdong, under the wing of Jiang Zemin and his Shanghai clique. Despite problems with corruption and bad management during the SARS epidemic in 2003, he rose through the echelons of power, and has been a vice premier since 2008.

Yu Zhengsheng - More of a backroom figure, Yu Zhengsheng, 67, trained as an engineer and is a former minister of construction. He replaced Xi Jinping as Communist Party secretary in the financial hub of Shanghai in 2007. Like Xi, he belongs to the princeling generation, and was a rising star in the party until the mid-1980s. His career halted abruptly in 1985 when his brother, a top official in China's Ministry of State Security, defected to the United States. Thanks to his close ties with Deng Pufang, son of the late Deng Xiaoping, Yu avoided expulsion from the party. Under Jiang Zemin, he served in top official posts across the country and entered the Politburo in 2002.

Liu Yunshan - A conservative who supervised media censorship, the 65-year-old Liu will be in charge of propaganda in the new standing committee. Working for years as a reporter in Inner Mongolia for China's foremost news agency Xinhua, he became the CPC's minister for the propaganda department in 2002. He is known for trying to control the country's television and radio stations, newspapers, book publishers and Internet companies. Although he has never worked in the Communist Youth League, he has always been close to Hu Jintao's positions.

Wang Qishan - A reformer and a financial expert, the 64-year-old is famous for his smart economic policies. He is also the only banker on the Politburo Standing Committee, having led the China Construction Bank Corp. Under Hu Jintao, he served as vice premier overseeing the financial sector and is the direct counterpart to US Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who described him in 2009 as China's "definitive preeminent trouble-shooter, fire-fighter, problem solver." His rise in the Communist Party is due in great part to his economic expertise and his handling of the tug-of-war with the US over the value of the Yuan.  In the late 1990s, he also dealt with the debt of Guangdong province, and the government's botched response to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in 2003. Later, as Beijing's mayor, he oversaw preparations for the 2008 Olympics. A princeling, he married the daughter of Yao Yilin, a former vice premier and member of the standing committee.

Zhang Gaoli - Like Wang Qishan, 66, Zhang is considered a reformer in the economic field. He is also close to former party secretary Jiang Zemin. After studying planning and statistics, he worked in the oil industry in the 1970s and 1980s in southern China. Originally from Fujian (south-eastern China), he took the top post in the industrial city of Shenzhen in 1997, becoming the party secretary in the coastal province of Shandong in 2002 before moving to Tianjin where he set the city straight after a major corruption scandal.  Here, he oversaw a surge in infrastructure spending in the port area centred on a new financial district, Yujiapu, modelled on Manhattan. He has been a politburo member since 2007.

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