HONG KONG - Wang Yang, 52, the Chinese
Communist Party (CCP) secretary of Chongqing
municipality, is known to be a favorite protege of
Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
He worked as a
deputy secretary of the Chinese Communist Youth
League's Anhui provincial committee in the early
1980s. Under the current leadership, key
government positions at both central and
provincial levels are more likely to be filled by people
associated with the league.
Wang is now widely tipped to
be elected into the new Politburo at the 17th
Party Congress in autumn, and possibly even into
standing committee of the Politburo.
of the congress, Wang is winning credit as an
In China, urban
redevelopment is a sensitive issue, often
involving forced demolition of old housing and
removal of residents. In many cities, such urban
renovation projects lead to confrontation.
Chongqing faced such a case, in which a
house owner held out against a redevelopment
project for three years by refusing to move.
However, the Chongqing government succeeded in
resolving the so-called "coolest nail house" in
history by striking an agreement that satisfied
both the owner and the project
The incident is said to have set
a significant precedent for the enlightened
enforcement of property laws. Apparently, the
owner agreed to take a similar-sized home in
another part of Chongqing. Although it had the
option, the local government resisted the
heavy-handed solution of simply bulldozing the
Chongqing's open mind in
dealing with the media over the long-running saga
has also won approval. Unlike many other cities
that would have imposed a media blackout,
Chongqing allowed unrestricted coverage of the
incident. No doubt, credit must be given to Wang,
the top leader in the Chongqing municipality.
And recently, the Chongqing government
issued a circular calling for reform of the news
media, which was subsequently hailed by the
Studies Times (Xuexi Shibao), an official
publication of the CCP's Central Party School. It
commented that the move had aroused "great
attention from all sectors of society".
Significantly, the president of the
Central Party School is Vice President Zeng
Qinghong, who will oversee the reshuffle for the
17th Party Congress. Clearly, this is another
feather in Wang's cap.
The circular urges
local official media organs to expand their
coverage of the grassroots populace, and to
prioritize reports according to the importance of
news events rather than to the ranking of the
practice in the official Chinese media, as
demanded by the party's propaganda authorities, is
to prioritize the activities of leaders. The
higher-ranking a leader, the higher priority and
bigger coverage he or she receives in news
For instance, the 7pm nationwide
news broadcast by China Central Television starts
with the public activities of the nine members of
the Standing Committee of the Politburo, starting
with President Hu Jintao, followed by other news
stories. Likewise, a regional news organ will
prioritize reports about the activities of
In an effort to change
this practice, the Chongqing circular outlines 40
detailed measures, 26 of which deal with watering
down reports of political leaders' activities. It
calls for more focus on news coverage of
grassroots issues and in improving reportage of
official meetings and official documents.
Since the circular took effect on January
1, an increasing number of news stories about
agriculture, rural life and rural migrant workers
have appeared on the front pages of newspapers in
The idea of such media reform
was initiated by the central government in 2003,
when Wang was a deputy secretary general of the
State Council. On March 28, 2003, Hu convened a
Politburo meeting that resulted in the release of
a circular titled "Opinions about Improving
Reportage of Official Meetings and Political
Leaders' Activities (Opinions)".
stated that it was not essential to cover every
move of central leaders when they attended
ministerial-level meetings, and that the presence
of such leaders should not be used as the only
yardstick for the coverage of political meetings
of lesser significance.
circular is, therefore, the implementation of the
"Opinions", and "it is our hope to find more and
more regional governments jumping on the
bandwagon", the Studies Times noted.
Chongqing's circular did not attract
national attention until last month when it was
lauded by the Studies Times. This could be linked
to Beijing's consideration of candidates for the
new Politburo, and a way of floating Wang's name.
Paving the way for the Politburo
Unconfirmed reports have it that the
number of members of the Politburo will be
slightly more than the current 24, in preparation
for a new central leadership at the 18th Party
Congress in 2010.
Politburo Standing Committee members, Luo Gan, in
his late 60s, is believed to be considered too old
to stay, while Huang Ju suffers from poor health.
Luo oversees law and order, while Huang is an
executive vice premier. Former CCP Shanghai party
chief Chen Liangyu has already been ousted from
the Politburo for suspected corruption.
This means there are at least three or
four vacancies and Wang, currently an alternative
member of the CCP Central Committee, is tipped as
most likely to fill one of them.
his recent visit to Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region
in western China, Hu set three new criteria for
promoting officials at the Congress. He said
priority should be given to "those who have spent
a long time working under harsh conditions in
underdeveloped areas. Those who have been
steadfast in their works instead of in pursuit of
false reputation and those who have immersed
themselves in hard work to lay a foundation for
Hu and Wen come
from Gansu province, one of China's most
underdeveloped areas, and Hu's remarks could
indicate that leaders in remote regions meeting
the new criteria could be promoted at the
Fong Tak-ho is
managing editor of the Chinese edition of Asia