A dozen provincial chiefs have been invited as observers to a key Communist Party meeting in Beijing this week, making them front runners for promotion to the inner circle next year, according to local media reports.
The provincial chiefs are not members of the elite Central Committee, which starts a four-day meeting in the capital on Monday, but could be promoted at the five-yearly party congress in 2017.
The meeting is also expected to result in the elevation of a number of alternate committee members to full membership to fill the void left by comrades felled by corruption.
The Beijing News reported that all provincial party secretaries and governors attending the meeting were usually either full or alternate members. But this year 12 of the provincial chiefs are neither full nor alternate members.
These include the party bosses of Anhui, Yunnan and Tibet, and nine government heads from Shanghai, Tianjin, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hainan, Guizhou and Xinjiang.
Chen Hao, Yunnan’s governor and party secretary, is one of the officials invited as an observer. He spent more than three decades as an official in Shanghai, working alongside President Xi Jinping for a few months when Xi was the city’s party chief.
The nine governors include Jiangxi’s Liu Qi, who worked in Zhejiang from 1974 before being transferred to Jiangxi in February. Xi was Zhejiang party secretary from 2002 to 2007.
Four full Central Committee members under internal investigation for alleged violations of discipline are expected to be formally expelled from the party in this week’s session, with the vacancies filled by four top-ranking alternate members.
The four are former Fujian governor Su Shulin; former Liaoning party boss Wang Min; General Tian Xiusi, former political commissar of the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force; and Huang Xingguo, former mayor of Tianjin.
They are expected to be succeeded by alternate members Zhao Xiancheng, deputy head of the Chinese Academy of Engineering; Ningxia chairwoman Xian Hui; the Finance Ministry’s top graft-buster, Mo Jiancheng; and Cui Bo, Ningxia’s deputy party chief.
In addition, Shu Xiaoqin, the top official overseeing the country’s petition work, will become advance to full Central Committee membership after the death of Chen Zhirong, Hainan’s former top law enforcer.
Additional reporting by Choi Chi-yuk