OPINION – Change of leadership in Guangzhou and Guangdong: political and personal implications
The recent reshuffle of the leadership of Guangzhou City and Guangdong Province has significant political implications for both places, indicating a tendency to transfer officials from Guangdong Province to assume leadership of Guangzhou and rotate executives. from Shenzhen and Zhuhai to hold the management position in Canton and Guangdong.
December 3e, 2021, Guangzhou City Party Secretary Zhang Shuofu, born in Hunan in 1965, was replaced by Guangdong Province Executive Vice Governor Lin Keqing. Lin Keqing was born in Hubei in 1966 and worked in the Daxing District of Beijing as party secretary from 2008 to 2013. He became deputy party secretary of Guangdong Province from 2019 to 2021.
On the same day, the mayor of Guangzhou city, Wen Guohui, was also replaced by Guo Yonghang, who was vice-governor of Guangdong province and who became deputy mayor and acting mayor of Guangzhou city. Guo’s appointment was formally approved by a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Guangzhou Municipal People’s Congress, which accepted the resignation of Wen Guohui, who had served as mayor of Guangzhou City from 2016 until the end of 2021.
Wen was born in Jiexi County, Guangdong, in 1963 and worked in Shanwei City as a party secretary in 2013 before being sent to the Guangdong Provincial Government in 2015.
As a vice-provincial city, Guangzhou saw two top leaders replaced on the same day – a phenomenon that sparked immediate concern and political sensitivity among mainland observers.
Guo Yonghang was born in Shandong in 1965 and worked in the Shenzhen Municipal Government from 1989 to 2018, when he was later appointed Party Secretary of Zhuhai City.
Lin Keping and Guo Yonghang were both northerners born outside of Guangdong. Their appointments as the new rulers of Guangzhou city can be interpreted as a sign that central authorities typically appoint northerners to rule Guangdong – a move that encourages lateral transfers from other provinces to accumulate more money. administrative experiences for provincial leaders while minimizing âlocal kingdomismâ by relying on executives born in Guangdong to rule Guangdong.
The regionalism of Guangdong-born officials became a concern of central authorities when Wan Qingliang was appointed mayor of Guangzhou in 2010 until 2014, when he was removed from office for corruption and abuse of power. Wan was kicked out of the party in October 2014. His corruption scandal has cast a shadow over Guangdong-born officials, who now arguably need to behave and perform much better to regain the political trust of central Beijing authorities.
December 9e, Hong Kong media reported that the sudden reshuffle of Zhang Shuofu and Wen Guohui in Guangzhou city was attributable not only to the policy of suppressing banyan trees (rongshu) in the city, but also perhaps the problematic way in which the financial management of the Evergrande group was handled by Guangzhou.
In May 2022, a former deputy mayor of Guangzhou City, Lin Daoping, oversaw urban construction and environmental protection, but he was later transferred to the post of Party Secretary of Yangjiang City and later. dismissed on the grounds that another arrangement had been made. It was reported that Lin was held responsible for cutting down a large number of Bayan trees in Guangzhou City – a move that angered many citizens of the city and led to complaints from a few. retired officials from Guangzhou to the central government in Beijing.
Alarmed by Guangzhou’s decision to cut Bayan trees, Beijing’s top leaders were unhappy with the way the city of Guangzhou was being governed. Rumors were rife that President Xi Jinping commented on the leaders of Guangzhou in 12 words in Chinese: “unscrupulous, reckless and extremely stupid”.
Eventually, ten Guangzhou City officials were disciplined, transferred, or demoted after thousands of banyan trees were shot. The media reported that the central management attached great importance to sustainable development and environmental protection. Yet the decision by the city of Guangzhou to cut down many banyan trees on the grounds that invasive tree roots could sabotage roads and underground pipelines was clearly negligent and inappropriate, especially at a politically sensitive time when China is positioning itself as a global protector of the environment.
Another possible reason for the dismissal of the main leaders in Guangzhou was the complexity of financial mismanagement on the part of Evergrande and possibly some leaders in Guangzhou. Evergrande was once one of the leading real estate developers in China with more than 1,300 real estate projects. He was embroiled in the financial crisis. November 19e, 2021, Hong Kong Hang Seng China Enterprises intended to delist the Group. Immediately, the Guangdong provincial government sent a task force to the group. The role of Guangzhou management in the Evergrande crisis was unknown, but the media speculated that the Guangzhou management reshuffle was due to the financial crisis of the Evergrande group, whose business expansion in the past. could be due to political support and patronage from Guangzhou. .
On December 25, 2021, the central government announced that Ma Xingrui, the governor of Guangdong province, would become the new party secretary of Xinjiang and replace Chen Quanguo, who was successfully dealing with social stability in Xinjiang. .
On December 27, 2021, the Standing Committee of the Guangdong National People’s Congress met and appointed Shenzhen City Party Secretary Wang Weizhong, 59, acting governor of Guangdong Province. Wang was appointed party secretary in Shenzhen in 2017. When President Xi Jinping visited Shenzhen in 2021 to mark the 40eanniversary of the development of Shenzhen as China’s first special economic zone, he praised Shenzhen’s achievements.
Wang’s appointment could be seen as an extent to which the central government has recognized his work and contribution to Shenzhen’s rapid and impressive economic development. In fact, since the publication of the Great Bay Area (GBA) plan by the central government, Shenzhen has positioned itself as the economic powerhouse of the GBA and has obviously overtaken the role of the city of Guangzhou in integrating rapid economic and technological development of southern China.
Wang is considered a rising star in Chinese politics. In 2014, he was sent by the central government to Shanxi amid corruption scandals in the province. Wang became a member of the Shanxi Provincial Party Committee in September 2014 and Party Secretary of Taiyuan City in 2016.
The recent appointment of Ma Xingrui as the new party secretary of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was politically significant. This meant that a top leader in Guangdong Province could be promoted to an even more politically important post. Shortly after his new appointment in Xinjiang, Ma, 62, said he would follow the central government’s policy to maintain long-term stability and high-quality economic development in Xinjiang.
Ma’s record was impressive. Born in Heilongjiang Province, Ma obtained a doctorate in mechanics from Harbin Institute of Technology. He joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1988 and became vice-dean of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology in 1996. In 2003, Ma was appointed chairman of the Sino Satellite Communications Company. Ten years later, he became the director of China’s National Space Administration. He worked in Shenzhen as party secretary from 2015 to 2016, and was promoted to governor of Guangdong in January 2017. His expertise and knowledge in space technologies, satellite communications, and economic development mean that the new Xinjiang post may have a new assignment. while maintaining socio-political and economic stability.
Historically speaking, Guangdong’s leadership positions could be politically important. President Xi Jinping’s father, Xi Zhongxun, was party secretary of Guangdong province from 1978 to 1980 before being appointed to the central secretariat in March 1981. After his retirement in 1993, Xi Zhongxun often resided in Shenzhen. Xi Zhongxun has contributed enormously to the economic development of Guangdong; in 1978, he lobbied the central government to grant greater economic authority to Guangdong to open up its economy. In support of Xu, the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 enabled Guangdong to establish special economic zones, opening the door for Guangdong and later Shenzhen to develop rapidly and successfully.
His father having developed a great interest in the economic development of the province of Guangdong, President Xi Jinping naturally pays particular attention to the development of the province, in particular the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen. President Xi’s visits to southern Guangdong in 2012 and 2020 proved that he remains deeply interested in the socio-economic development of the province.
In conclusion, the most recent leadership changes in Guangzhou and Guangdong illustrated not only the transfer of provincial officials from Guangdong to take leadership positions in Guangzhou, but also the change of officials from Shenzhen and Zhuhai to lead in the both Guangzhou and Guangdong. Guangdong-born officials appear to be under scrutiny, as central concern over regionalism may be one of the factors shaping the leadership reshuffle, especially after the Wan Qingliang corruption scandal in Guangzhou. Other factors shaped the recent leadership reshuffle in Guangzhou, including the mismanagement of Bayan trees by officials in Guangzhou and possibly the city’s financial oversight of the Evergrande group. On the other hand, Ma Xingrui’s promotion to the leadership of Guangdong in Xinjiang shows that the political leaders in Guangdong, if they behave well and impressively, can be one more step to hold politically important positions in d ‘other provinces and cities.