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Question mark hangs over future of high-profile former Xinjiang Communist Party boss

A question mark hangs over the future of a former Communist Party boss of Xinjiang with his appointment to a low-key group overseeing party development.

Zhang Chunxian has been appointed deputy chief of the Central Leading Group for Party Building, ending nearly two months of guessing over the high-profile politician’s next move.

Xinhua reported yesterday on a trip to Shaanxi that Zhang made, and for the first time mentioned his new role in the group.

The report also revealed that Zhang, one of the 25 members of the party’s leading Politburo, had retained his role as deputy chief in another steering group on Xinjiang affairs.

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But in a rare departure, the report did not say if any top regional party or government officials accompanied Zhang on the trip – often a sign of a politician’s prospects in protocol-conscious but opaque mainland politics.

“We must unswervingly uphold the party’s leadership in state-owned enterprises,” Zhang was quoted as saying, underscoring party leader Xi Jinping’s recent speech to bosses of state-owned enterprises.

The party-building group is chaired by Liu Yunshan, the ideology tsar and a member of the Politburo Standing Committee. Another committee member, anti-corruption chief Wang Qishan, and Politburo member Zhao Leji are the other two deputy chiefs.

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The high-ranking but low-key leading group is said to be responsible for making key decisions on party development.

Zhang’s appointment appeared to make his prospects for advancement to the Standing Committee at a major reshuffle late next year even more uncertain, although he boasted strong regional experience when compared with other potential contenders.