Who’s going to be making the headlines in China this year and beyond? The Diplomat has asked around among its regular contributors and guest analysts for their opinions on who our readers should watch out for in 2011 in politics, sport, business and entertainment.
Li Yuanchao is currently the Head of China’s Communist Party (CPC) Central Organisation Department and an increasingly influential figure among China’s fifth generation of political leaders, expected to come to power in 2012.
Li was born in 1950 in Jiangsu Province to Li Gancheng, a veteran CPC official who would later become vice mayor of Shanghai. Growing up, Li saw for himself the political persecution of the Cultural Revolution as his parents were directly intimidated. He eventually enrolled at Shanghai Normal University to study mathematics.
As a prominent politician who advanced his career through the China Communist Youth League (CCYL), Li is a prominent member of China’s Tuanpai leaders. As party secretary of Jiangsu Province (2002-2007), Li developed a reputation for eradicating high-level official corruption and introducing greater government accountability. He also introduced measures that allowed 10,000 local citizens to evaluate publically the activities of local leaders. In addition, Li introduced the now nationwide popular practice of making leading politicians spend the Chinese Spring Festival Eve with the less privileged.
Often labeled as ‘independent minded’ and ‘unconventional’ by the Chinese media, Li’s liberal views were most widely associated with his ‘protection’ of CCYL officials who had expressed sympathy with the Tiananmen protests in 1989. It is thought that these non-Party line actions impeded his career progress through the 1990s.
However, as a key member of the CPC and of the 17th Party Politburo, Li’s proven ability and willingness to preside over progressive party rule and the introduction of enlightened political practices looks set to establish his position in the future of the Chinese political leadership.
Photo: Uniphoto Press