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Top legislature has younger leaders

Updated: 2013-03-19 07:43

Top legislature has younger leaders

The newly elected chairman and vice-chairpersons of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress hold their first meeting on Monday afternoon. Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the committee, presided over the meeting, at which it was decided that the first meeting of the 12th NPC Standing Committee would convene on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - A younger generation of elites from different political parties, ethnic groups and professional backgrounds are now taking to the center stage of the legislative leadership in China.

Nearly 3,000 lawmakers elected the new leadership of China's top legislature through secret ballots at a plenary meeting on Thursday.

Zhang Dejiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, was elected chairman of the Standing Committee of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), replacing Wu Bangguo.

After the announcement of his election, Zhang stood up and bowed to NPC deputies, and then shook hands with Wu. The election was held at the Great Hall of the People in downtown Beijing.

Born in Northeast China's Liaoning province in November 1946, Zhang studied economics at the Kim Il Sung University in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from 1978 to 1980.

He served as CPC secretary of Jilin, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces successively before he became vice-premier in 2008. From March to November 2012, he also served as secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee in the fallout of the investigation of an alleged corruption scandal against Bo Xilai.

Zhang was elected a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in November last year.

Assuming his new role as China's top legislator, Zhang will be assisted by 13 newly-elected vice-chairpersons, namely Li Jianguo, Wang Shengjun, Chen Changzhi, Yan Junqi, Wang Chen, Shen Yueyue, Ji Bingxuan, Zhang Ping, Qiangba Puncog, Arken Imirbaki, Wan Exiang, Zhang Baowen and Chen Zhu.

Wang Chen was also elected secretary-general of the NPC Standing Committee.

After the elections, a younger generation born after the founding of new China joined the top legislature leadership and take the center stage, including 56-year-old Shen Yueyue, the youngest vice-chairperson.

With an average age of 62.8 years, the new NPC leadership members are two years younger on average than their predecessors when they took office five years ago.

The new NPC leadership lineup is made up of experienced ministers, well-trained CPC officials, regional leaders and heads of non-Communist parties who have shown their leadership capabilities in their previous positions.

According to the election results, CPC members take up eight of the 13-seat vice-chairmanship of the top legislature, namely Li Jianguo, Wang Shengjun, Wang Chen, Shen Yueyue, Ji Bingxuan, Zhang Ping, Qiangba Puncog and Arken Imirbaki, while leaders of non-Communist parties take the remaining five seats.

The number of Communist vice-chairpersons of the top legislature remains the same as that of the 11th NPC Standing Committee.

Before their elections, most of the newly elected vice-chairpersons had assumed posts of regional leaders and ministers, where they showed their experience and leadership capabilities.

Li Jianguo was one of the three people re-elected as vice-chairpersons, along with Chen Changzhi, chairman of the Central Committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association, and Yan Junqi, chairwoman of the Central Committee of the China Association for Promoting Democracy.

Born into a farmer's family in April 1946, Li has assumed many community-level positions in Tianjin municipality and once served as CPC secretary in Shaanxi and Shandong provinces before he was elected vice-chairman of 11th NPC Standing Committee and secretary-general in 2008.

Also a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Li was elected chairman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions earlier this month, replacing Wang Zhaoguo.

One of the best known vice-chairpersons of the top legislature is 66-year-old Wang Shengjun, who served as chief justice of the Supreme People's Court over the past five years.

Wang Chen and Ji Bingxuan are two vice chairpersons quite familiar with the Chinese press due to their work experience in the media or publicity department.

Once a journalist for the Guangming Daily, Wang is head of the State Council Information Office before his election.

Ji stayed in the publicity department for quite a long time before he was appointed secretary of the CPC Heilongjiang Provincial Committee.

Yan Junqi and Shen Yueyue are the only two female vice-chairpersons.

As a participant in the country's multi-party cooperation system, Yan has full confidence in and expectation for the multi-party cooperation and political consultative system led by the CPC.

"Improving the consultative democracy system and working mechanism provides a broad stage for participating parties to play a role," she has said.

Yan's female colleague in the top legislature, Shen used to be a worker and teacher in communities in eastern Zhejiang province. She is executive deputy head of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee.

Another well known vice-chairman is Zhang Ping, who served as the country's top economic planner over the past five years. Zhang started his career as an accountant at a local bank in East China's Anhui province and stayed there for 28 years before transferring to the central government to head the National Development and Reform Commission.

Qiangba Puncog and Arken Imirbaki are vice-chairpersons from the country's ethnic minority groups, a tradition that has been followed since the very beginning of the top legislature over the past years.

A 65-year-old Tibetan, Qiangba Puncog has been working in Tibet since graduating from university, first as a technician, then as CPC secretary of Lhasa and chairman of the Tibet autonomous region.

Arken Imirbaki, 59, worked at a ceramic factory in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region when he was 19 years old. He was later elevated all the way up to the post of chairman of the Standing Committee of the Xinjiang Regional People's Congress.

The eldest vice-chairperson of the top legislature, 66-year-old Chen Changzhi urged leading officials of the CPC at all levels to have a broad mind to tolerate dissenting views, listen to the voice of criticism and correct mistakes. He encouraged the non-Communist parties to be courageous, dare to tell the truth regardless of the possibility of offending CPC officials.

He said with multiple ways of supervision from non-Communist parties, the ruling party can make their decisions more scientific and democratic.

A veteran legal expert and chairman of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, Wan Exiang has been working for the Supreme People's Court and said the existing political party system is suitable for the country.

"Only by trying the shoes oneself can one know whether they fit the feet or not," he once cited a Chinese saying to defend the country's existing multi-party cooperation system.

Zhang Baowen, 66, is chairman of the Central Committee of the China Democratic League. He returned to China in the mid-1980s after studying agriculture in the University of Minnesota in the United States.

He leads the country's largest non-Communist party, with about 230,000 members in the league that is made up of mainly intellectuals from the culture, education, science and technology sectors.

Chen Zhu has been chairman of the Central Committee of the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party for nearly six years. He is the second non-Communist minister of the central government since reform and opening up in the late 1970s, after Wan Gang, chairman of the Central Committee of the China Public Interest Party and Minister of science and technology. Wan was elected vice-chairman of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body.

A famous hematology expert, Chen Zhu was widely reported in the past. During his tenure as health Minister, China launched a new round of reform to provide health care to 1.3 billion Chinese people.

"It is my biggest dream to have all the sick treated," he once said.