Who are China’s new regional party chiefs?
Beijing appointed eight new regional party chiefs in September and October, ahead of a key party meeting in early November. With indications that President Xi Jinping is planning to stay on after his second term, officials born in the 1960s – who would otherwise have made up the six-generation leadership – are likely to continue serving under him until their retirement. Officials from this generation, who have at least five years left in their political careers, look set to make up the majority of the key team supporting Xi’s goals for “common prosperity”. They currently lead 17 of the 31 of the provinces and regions in China.
Provinces/regions with newly appointed party chiefs
Newly appointed provincial and regional party chiefs
Wu Zhenlong, 56
One of the youngest in the cohort, Wu has been promoted from governor to the top role of party secretary in eastern economic powerhouse Jiangsu.
He rose to prominence after successfully executing a project to relocate hundreds of thousands of residents to make way for the Three Gorges Project when he worked at Chongqing’s Wanzhou district committee in 2002.
Li Ganjie, 56
Like Wu, Hunan native Li was born in November 1964. He was promoted to his current role as head of eastern Shandong province at the end of September, 2021.
Li is a trained engineer and nuclear safety expert. He was also previously China’s environment minister, and headed a three-year “green” plan in 2018 to improve air quality.
Wang Junzheng, 58
Before his latest promotion to head the Tibet autonomous region, rising political star Wang was security head for the neighbouring far-west Xinjiang Autonomous Region, and for state-owned paramilitary organisation Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
He has been on the fast track for promotion in the past decade, despite being listed on multiple sanction lists by Western countries.
“As the top man in Tibet, Wang now needs to make decisions not only on economic developments, but also, perhaps more importantly, to ensure the stability amid the China-India border tensions,” said Xie Maosong, a senior researcher with the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Zhang Qingwei, 59
Previously the party secretary of rust belt Heilongjiang province in northeast China, Zhang now oversees China’s more significant industrial power house of central Hunan province.
Like Jiangsu’s Wu, Zhang served for decades in China’s state-owned machinery and national defence sector.
“Coming from those sectors, they have a better sense of China’s overall development situation and are usually very committed to their deliverables,” said Chen Daoyin, a political commentator and former professor at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
“They won the trust from the top because they delivered results, as evidenced by China’s progress in its military and space developments,” Chen said.
Liu Ning, 59
Previously the governor of the northeast province of Liaoning, Liu was promoted to party secretary of Guangxi in the southwest.
A hydraulic and electric engineering graduate, Liu served nearly three decades in China’s water resource ministry and was appointed as deputy water resources minister in 2009.
Liu became the party’s security chief in northwest Qinghai province in 2017 and rose to become the province’s governor in 2018, but was transferred to Liaoning that same year.
Xu Qin, 60
Xu succeeds Zhang Qingwei as party secretary of Heilongjiang.
He was previously the provincial governor of Hebei and a main driver of its “city of the future” Xiongan New Area – President Xi’s pet project. He is also one of the key people involved in China’s 2022 Winter Olympic preparation works.
Xu spent two decades in China’s National Planning Commission – its top economy planning agency – and was groomed as an administrator with technical skills.
In 2008, he was transferred to Shenzhen, China’s silicon valley, and rose to become the city’s party chief in December 2016.
Wang Ning, 60
Southeastern Fujian governor Wang has also been promoted to party secretary of southwest Yunnan province.
As an architect, he spent most of his time in the Ministry of Construction and then the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, where he became a vice-minister in July 2013.
He was transferred to Fujian province in December 2015 and appointed as Fujian provincial governor in September 2020.
He is succeeded in Fujian by Zhao Long, the party chief of Fujian’s Xiamen city, who at 54 will become the country’s youngest provincial governor.
Yi Lianhong, 62
In Jiangxi province, Yi has been promoted from governor to party secretary. At 62, Yi is three years away from the ministerial-level retirement age. He was the only one above the age of sixty in this round of promotions.
Yi spent most of his career, which spans more than three decade, in his home province of Hunan, where he served for 10 years in the provincial party school until 2004.
He made the first foray into a regional leadership role in Yueyang and later was appointed to the top party job in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, in 2013.
He was transferred to Liaoning province in 2017 before he was transferred again a year later to become provincial governor in Jiangxi province.
Edited by Melissa Zhu
Additional web development by Dennis Wong
Creative Director Darren Long