China’s ‘moderate’ Wang Yang is seen as a potential chief as the reshuffle looms

When Wang Yang was the boss of the Chinese Communist Party of economic powerhouse Guangdong province, the man now considered a top contender for China’s successive premiership showed a moderate streak that has been less visible since Xi Jinping came to power.

During his time in Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong, Wang made a mark by pursuing upgrading rusting industries and citing socially inclusive policies.

In a standoff over land-grabbing in Wukan village in late 2011, Wang sacked corrupt officials and allowed protesting leaders to contest grassroots elections the following spring, leading to an international victory.

While some liberal-minded moves in Guangdong were later withdrawn or abolished under Wang’s watch, more restrictions were imposed on the media and civil society after Xi became leader a decade earlier. China was set on an increasingly authoritarian path.

Wang, 67, is considered among the top candidates nominated to succeed Li Keqiang when Li steps down as supervisor of the world’s second-largest economy in March.

While the premiership is No. 2 in the leadership hierarchy, it has become less influential as Xi has consolidated his power and imposed a tighter state hold on economic management. Xi is expected to break with precedent by securing a third five-year leadership term at the Communist Party Congress, which begins on October 16.

A self-made man who worked in a food factory in his teens to support his single mother and family, Wang later reportedly caught the eye of former Paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and had a close relationship with former President Hu Jintao.

Personally, according to some of the people she meets, Wang is self-confident and charismatic. He has chosen to leave his hair white instead of dyeing it black like other leaders.

At an informal gathering with reporters in Guangzhou more than a decade ago, Wang made unscripted, sometimes humorous remarks on various topics. This style contrasted with the tough public persona usually adopted by top party leaders, who nowadays rarely interact with foreign media.

During a meeting with then-US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in 2013, Wang took a jibe at gay marriage, saying that China and the United States would not divorce like media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his then-wife, the Chinese-born Wendy. Can. Dang, because the price will be “too high”.

“He is undoubtedly the most liberal of the entire Politburo,” Willie Lam, a China expert and assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Reuters.

Wang was passed on for promotion to the Politburo Standing Committee in 2012, but as deputy prime minister, he helped oversee China’s external economic relations, including those of the United States.

In 2017, he was promoted to the party’s highest ruling body, ranking fourth among seven members. He is also the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body.

Youth League

Like Li Keqiang and Vice Premier Hu Chunhua – another premier contender – Wang has ties to the Communist Youth League, a faction seen as Xi’s rival.

However, some party watchers argue that Wang may have gained Xi’s trust after keeping a low profile and serving loyally with him on the standing committee over the past five years.

In recent years under Xi’s leadership, Wang has tempered his reformist tendencies, echoing the party’s tough line on sensitive political issues, including Taiwan, Xinjiang and Tibet, while expressing support for Xi.

As head of the CPPCC, Wang led a policy group in China’s western region of Xinjiang, where a million ethnic Muslims were detained in mass camps.

Ahead of a visit to Xinjiang in May by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which rights groups and Western governments widely criticized, Wang said the Muslim ethnic group can now live with “joy and security”, according to official Xinhua news.


Hi, my name is Nisha and I'm an educational journalist based in India. I've always been passionate about the power of education to transform lives, and that's what led me to pursue a career in journalism focused on this area. I completed my Bachelor's degree in English from Hindu College in Delhi in 2013 and then went on to earn my Master's in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in 2017. During my studies, I also completed several short-term courses on Education in India, Sociology, and other related subjects to deepen my knowledge in this field. I'm particularly interested in improving access to quality education in rural areas, where students often face significant challenges. I've worked on a number of initiatives to address this issue, including advocating for better policies, resources, and practices that can make a difference. As an educational journalist, I'm passionate about using my platform to highlight important issues in the education space. I've covered a wide range of topics, including the impact of technology in the classroom, innovative approaches to teaching and learning, and the challenges facing students from marginalized communities. One of the things I love most about my work is the opportunity to constantly learn and grow. I'm an avid reader and believe that reading is key to expanding one's knowledge and perspective. I'm always seeking out new ideas and insights to help me better understand the world around me. In summary, as an educational journalist, I'm dedicated to using my skills and expertise to make a positive impact in the field of education. I'm committed to improving access to quality education for all students and to using my platform to raise awareness about important issues in this area.

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