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New Chinese cabinet takes shape

By Willy Wo-Lap Lam
CNN Senior China Analyst

Wen will lead the push for China's ambitious economic development plans
Wen will lead the push for China's ambitious economic development plans

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(CNN) -- Chinese premier-designate Wen Jiabao is assembling a cabinet that will be weighted heavily with technocrats with ties to the Greater Shanghai Region.

While the final line-up of ministers will not be announced until the National People's Congress (NPC) in March, Wen and his Politburo colleagues have agreed on the candidates for the four vice-premierships.

While taking charge of the State Council, or central government apparatus, Wen, 60, will assume overall responsibility for economic development.

A long-time protégé of out-going Premier Zhu Rongji, Wen is widely regarded as one of the most able members of the Fourth Generation leadership.

Veteran former party secretary of Shanghai Huang Ju, 64, will become Executive Vice-Premier, the No. 2 position in the central government.

However, it is not certain whether Huang will be given an important economic portfolio, or, as in the case of the incumbent executive vice-premier Li Lanqing, he will be handling policies regarding education, sports and culture.

A Communist party source said Premier Zhu was against Huang being given major economic responsibilities.

"Zhu worked together with Huang in Shanghai in the mid-1980s when the former was mayor of the city," said the source.

"Zhu reportedly does not have a high opinion of the abilities of Huang, who is a protégé of [President] Jiang Zemin's."

And it was at the recommendation of President Jiang that Huang was elevated to the Politburo Standing Committee at the 16th party congress last November.

Influential

Political analysts in Beijing said Zeng Peiyang, another member of the so-called Jiang Zemin or Shanghai Faction, might become the most influential of the four vice-premiers.

A principal economic adviser of Jiang's, the 64-year-old Zeng also made it to the Politburo last month.

Zeng, a fluent English speaker, is tipped to be put in charge of finance and industry.

The party secretary of Jiangsu Province Hui Liangyu is expected to be promoted vice-premier in charge of agriculture.

Hui, 58, a rising star in party politics, is thought to be close to Politburo Standing Committee member Zeng Qinghong, President Jiang's alter ego.

China's most senior and best known woman cadre, Wu Yi, is also due to be made Vice-Premier.

Wu, 64, a Zhu protégé who played a key role in China's accession to the World Trade Organization, will be handling foreign affairs and foreign trade.

Diplomatic analysts said Wen and the Poltiburo were still making last-minute decisions on candidates for top positions at the 20-odd ministries and commissions.

They said a couple of successful state entrepreneurs would likely be made ministers.

For example, the State Commission on State Assets, a new central Government department to be set up in March, may be headed by a state entrepreneur and not a traditional bureaucrat or party functionary.

The induction of entrepreneurs into the government's top echelon is indicative of the leadership's determination to make decision-making more efficient and market-oriented.



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