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China's Guangdong gets new party boss, former leader likely to be promoted

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China's Guangdong gets new party boss, former leader likely to be promoted

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Saturday appointed a new top official for the southern export powerhouse province of Guangdong, whose former leader sources say is likely to be promoted to a vice premier, part of a reshuffle after the end of a Communist Party Congress. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday unveiled a new senior leadership at the end of the twice-a-decade congress, with new members appointed to the three elite party bodies that run China. Over the next few weeks and months, a series of other reshuffles will take place as the party moves people into new party and government positions and as others retire. In a brief statement, the official Xinhua news agency said that Li Xi had been moved from his post as party boss in the northeastern province of Liaoning to run Guangdong province as its party chief, replacing the incumbent, Hu Chunhua. Guangdong, which borders the former British colony of Hong Kong, is one of China’s most economically important provinces. Xinhua did not say what position Hu would assume, but sources with ties to the leadership said he is likely to be promoted to become one of China’s vice premiers. Hu, who spent a large part of his career working in restive Tibet, had been considered a candidate for the Standing Committee, the seven-man party body that is China’s elite ruling body headed by Xi, but failed to make it on. Three sources with leadership ties told Reuters that Jiangsu party boss Li Qiang is tipped to replace Han Zheng as Shanghai party secretary. “Li is (one of) Xi Jinping’s men,” one source said. Li, 58, a native of the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, was secretary general of the provincial party committee under Xi when the latter was Zhejiang party boss from 2002 to 2007. Li will be a strong contender to be further promoted to the Standing Committee at the next congress in 2022, another source said.  He was appointed to the 25-member Politburo, which is under the Standing Committee, on Wednesday. Former Shanghai leader Han, 63, is likely to become executive or first ranked vice premier next March at the annual meeting of parliament, the sources said.  The State Council Information Office, which doubles as the party’s spokesman’s office, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim; Additional reporting by Dominique Patton; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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