Zhang Gaoli

Zhang Gaoli 张高丽



One of China’s most senior leaders

Zhang Gaoli


Pronunciation: Jahng Gow-lee (‘Gow’ as in how) soundbite
Born: 1946, Fujian
Education: Xiamen University
Career: Politburo Standing Committee Member. Until November 2012 Party head, Tianjin (one of the four municipalities governed directly by central government, so has the same status as a Provincial Chief). An economist, obviously capable, but no real information available.
Prospects: Promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012 – but retired in 2017. Named 1st (Executive) Vice Premier of the State Council in 2013, a position he held until March 2018.
Relevance to Tibet: Formerly one of China’s most senior leaders.

Standing in the Party and Career Highlights:

Zhang Gaoli joined the Communist Party in 1973. He spent at least 15 years in the oil industry, simultaneously holding party positions within his company, before being appointed to a position in Guangdong Province in 1985. He then rose rapidly, becoming vice governor of Guangdong Province in 1988, and holding that position until being appointed Party Secretary of Shenzhen in 1997 – where, according to Cheng Li, Zhang turned the city into a showcase for Jiang Zemin’s new phase of China’s development, known as the “three represents.” Through his work in Shenzhen, Zhang is associated with pro-market economic policies.

In 2001, he was appointed governor of Shandong Province, then Party Secretary from 2002– 2007). Zhang was first elected to the Central Committee as an alternate member at the 15th Party Congress in 1997.

Zhang became Party Secretary of Tianjin in 2007 and was replaced by Politburo Member Sun Chunlan (one of China’s most senior women) in November 2012.

Zhang is considered to be a protégé of Jiang Zemin and Zeng Qinghong, with whom he shares a background in the oil industry. Cheng Li says some analysts believe that Zhang’s posts in Shandong can be attributed to Zeng’s favouritism (Zeng was in charge of the Organization Department at the time).

In September 2012, the South China Morning Post reported that “contrary to some overseas media speculation, Zhang was most likely to emerge as the winner”, in competition with rivals for a Politburo Standing Committee seat. Cheng Li correctly considered Zhang a candidate for executive Vice Premier (or Chair of the CPPCC).

In November 2013 Zhang Gaoli became part of a major new leading group on “Overall Reform” led by Xi Jinping. Two other Politburo Standing Committee members are part of this Group in addition to Xi and Zhang; Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan. The South China Morning Post reported that Xi had named subgroups to focus on six reform categories: economics and ecology; culture; democracy and law; social systems; party building; and party discipline.

* In April 2016 Zhang Gaoli was named as one of three top Chinese leaders who were revealed in the Panama Papers as having links to offshore companies, with relatives are listed as directors or shareholders in firms located in known tax havens.

Zhang Gaoli’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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