01/20/2023, 12.38
CHINA
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Three hi-tech bosses out of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

by Li Qiang

They are the founders of the giants Baidu, NetEase and Sogou. The body is called upon to formalise decisions already made by the Chinese Communist Party. Two anti-Covid-19 experts targeted by online criticism. Hu Chunhua, previously in the running for the premiership, could become one of the deputy heads of the conference.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Three heavyweights of the Chinese hi-tech industry are no longer in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a body that together with the much more important National People's Congress is called upon to formalise decisions already made by President Xi Jinping and the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

In the new list of members, released on 18 January, the names of Robin Li Yanhong, William Ding Lei and Wang Xiaochuan are missing. The former is founder and CEO of Baidu (the Chinese Google), a company that also deals with artificial intelligence. Ding, on the other hand, is the founder and head of NetEase, China's second largest video game industry, while Wang is the creator of the internet search engine Sogou, the most important after Baidu.

Made up of 2,172 delegates, the new CPPCC will meet for the first time in March at the same time as the NPC at the "two sessions" (Lianghui), when the appointments to lead the country for Xi's third term in power will be made official.

In practice, the members of the Conference are chosen by the Party from various spheres, including the religious one. The basic selection criterion is loyalty and competence. The exit of the three leading technology entrepreneurs could be explained by Xi's lack of confidence in them.

For more than two years, the Chinese leader has been campaigning to contain the monopoly power of large hi-tech groups, which on paper could represent a countervailing power to the Party.

Instead, two experts in the fight against Covid-19 have found a place in the revamped Cpcpc: infectivologist Zhang Wenhong and epidemiologist Wu Zunyou. The appointment is striking because the two scientists are often the target of online criticism for their handling of the pandemic emergency, but it also explains how much loyalty and political reliability count in Chinese power dynamics.

In all likelihood, the new head of the CPPCC will be Wang Huning, Xi's ally and number four on the Politburo Standing Committee, the Party's decision-making body. One of Wang's deputies is expected to be outgoing Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, a member of the Communist Youth, a faction opposed to Xi.

A contender for the premiership on the eve of the 20th Party Congress in October, Hu was not even included among the 24 members of the Politburo, the second most important organ of the CCP.   

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