Wang Qishan 王岐山
Xi Jinping’s Deputy and friend. Expected to play a role in US:China relations and continue anti-corruption work. No limit to how long he can serve.
Pronunciation: Wong Chee-shahn soundbite
Born: 1948, Shandong Province. Considered a “princeling” (son-in-law of former Vice Premier Yao Yilin). A sent-down youth during the Cultural Revolution.
Education: Graduate in history, Northwest University.
Career: Previously one of four Vice-Premiers of the State Council (until March 2013). Politburo Standing Committee and Chair of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection 2012 – 2017.
Prospects: Retired from the Politburo Standing Committee in 2017 but appointed Vice President in March 2018, a post which has no age limit.
Relevance to Tibet: One of China’s most influential leaders. A friend of Xi Jinping’s since their youth. Could remain in post for many years.
Standing in the Party and Career Highlights:
Wang Qishan has held many influential positions but rose to greatest prominence as Head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, with its high profile investigations into corruption by senior officials, including former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, Hu Jintao aide Ling Jihua and 6th generation leader Sun Zhengcai. Wang stepped down from the Politburo Standing Committee in October 2017 along with 4 other members who had reached retirement age, but on 17 March 2018 was appointed by the National People’s Congress as Xi Jinping’s Vice-President. The BBC reported that ‘China’s constitution allows the vice-president to “assist” in his superior’s work and to carry out presidential duties on his behalf – meaning Wang Qishan, possibly in his role for life, could be far more than the figurehead his predecessors were.
Media commentators expect Wang to be involved in foreign relations – especially US/China relations – working with Yang Jiechi, Wang Yi, and economist Liu He. It is also presumed that he would continue to play a part in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, with teh Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (now headed by Zhao Leji) and the newly created National Supervisory Commission (headed by Wang’s former deputy Yang Xiaodu).
His previous career includes many years at top level of major banks (and the Party committees of those banks) and various top level positions in Guangdong and Hainan Provinces. Mayor of Beijing.
Executive chairman of the Beijing Organizing Committee (2008 Olympics).
Was a member of the Politburo 2007 – 2012 (and member of 17th CPC Central Committee), a Vice Premier 2008 to 2013, responsible for economic, energy and financial affairs. Member of the Politburo Standing Committee 2012 – 2017 when age forced his retirement.
Known for bold handling of crises, e.g., SARS epidemic, liquidation of a scandal-ridden bank in Guangdong as a warning to financial community. In 2009, chaired the Chinese side of the economic track of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.
Quotations By/Comments About
- Willy Lam, Jamestown, Oct 2007 and Asia Sentinel, Jan 2008: [When Wang was being considered for Vice-Premier] Only Beijing Mayor Wang Qishan has a well earned national stature as well as an overall satisfactory track record as a reformer and administrator….Wang earned high marks from WHO, not only for full cooperation with the international agency [on the SARS crisis] but also subsequent attempts to modernize the Beijing health system. Wang has a “charismatic yet hard-driving personality.”
- Melinda Liu, Newsweek Oct 2007: Nobody can pinpoint just when conspicuous consumption took over Beijing. …everyone knows when the tide turned and elitism suddenly went out of official fashion. In May 2007, Beijing’s no-nonsense Mayor Wang Qishan publicly blasted the bling-bling billboards…. Wang complained that the gaudy signs “encourage luxury and self-indulgence which are beyond the reach of low-income groups, and [are] therefore not conducive to harmony in the capital.” Since then, hundreds of the offending advertisements have disappeared.
- Cheng Li, Brookings 2010: Cheng predicted that Wang was likely to become Executive Vice-Premier under Li Keqiang’s Premiership; however that position “may not do justice to Wang’s high caliber.” Some in China argued that Wang should, instead, become Premier, but since Xi Jinping is also a princeling, it would have been highly unpopular to have two princelings in the top two positions.
- Bloomberg News, May 2010: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner calls Wang China’s “definitive preeminent troubleshooter, firefighter, problem solver.” [NB Wang became close to Geithner’s father, when he gave him financial support as a student.]
- ChinaStakes, October 2009 quoted Wang as saying: “US Secretary Geithner and I have a personal relationship (“guanxi”) which distinguishes success from failure. Our relationship is not an ordinary relationship. We are family. We can build a successful US- China relationship because of our “guanxi.” An “uncle” relationship has greater advantages than a purely formal business relationship.
- A China Leadership Monitor Profile, April 2012 by Cheng Li, can be downloaded from http://www.hoover.org/publications/china-leadership-monitor/article/116046.
Wang Qishan’s Contact Information:
- Address: Zhongnanhai, Xi Chang’an Jie, Beijing 100017.
- Website: www.gov.cn
- Phone: + 86 10 6307 0913
- Fax: + 86 10 6307 0900
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