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Jiang's 'rising stars' get a boost

By CNN Senior China Analyst Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Jiang is expected to retire after the next party congress
Jiang is expected to retire after the next party congress

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HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin has maneuvered to promote a few more proteges to the Politburo just prior to his departure for his last official U.S. tour.

Beijing papers on Wednesday carried a terse Xinhua news agency dispatch saying that the Communist party secretaries of Beijing and Shanghai, respectively Jia Qinglin and Huang Ju, had been "reassigned jobs in the party center."

The current Beijing mayor, Liu Qi, 59, has replaced Jia as Beijing party boss; while Shanghai mayor Chen Liangyu, 56, has become Huang's successor as Shanghai party chief.

According to party sources in Beijing, Jia, 62, and Huang, 64 -- or at least one of the two -- are now well positioned to be inducted into the elite Politburo Standing Committee at the upcoming 16th party congress.

Already long-standing Politburo members, Jia and Huang are Jiang cronies whose relationship to the president goes back many years.

The sources said jobs available for Jia and Huang could include head of the party's Propaganda Department, head of the Organization Department, and secretary of the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection, the top anti-graft agency.

Shanghai supremo

Before the surprise announcement, it was expected that Jia and Huang would become vice-chairmen of the National People's Congress, or parliament, next March.

Shanghai's Chen, who has won three promotions within a year, is seen as a rising star in party politics.

The new Shanghai supremo, who studied briefly at Birmingham University in Britain in the early 1990s, will also earn a seat on the Politburo at the party congress.

Politburo status will also be accorded the new Beijing party secretary Liu, who has won the respect of foreign businessmen and diplomats for his handling of his city's bid for the Olympics.

While he has less definite factional affiliations, Liu is deemed a cadre that Jiang can trust.

Diplomatic analysts said the outcome of these and other recent personnel movements is that the percentage of post-16th Congress Politburo members who belong to the Jiang or Shanghai Faction is tipped to increase.

"Jiang can now afford to leave his post of general secretary with a light heart," said an Asian diplomat.

"Despite his distrust of his successor as party chief, Hu Jintao, Jiang will be assured that his cronies on the new Politburo will continue to push his policies and preserve his legacy."

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