Chongqing Party boss under investigation as President Xi’s allies rise


Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on July 17, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.


Chongqing Party boss under investigation

The Communist Party has placed “a senior official once seen as a possible successor to President Xi Jinping” under investigation, according to (paywall) the sources of Wall Street Journal reporters Chun Han Wong and Lingling Wei.

  • Sun Zhengcai 孙政才 was placed in charge of the megalopolis Chongqing and tasked with cleaning it up after the fall of Bo Xilai 薄熙来. The Journal says that “a hastily arranged meeting of Party officials on Saturday” announced that Sun would be “replaced and was being investigated.” In February, the Party’s “disciplinary agency…criticized Chongqing authorities for failing to eradicate Mr. Bo’s ‘lingering pernicious influence.’”
  • The Journal says that the move may be an attempt by Xi Jinping “to block promotion of anyone who could be seen as a potential successor—a move that would enhance his authority and boost his chances of remaining in office after his second term expires in 2022.”
  • State media briefly noted that Sun “will no longer hold the position of secretary of Chongqing Municipal Committee” of the Party. His replacement is Chen Min’er 陈敏尔, who is widely believed to be a close associate of Xi Jinping.
  • China’s top graft-buster and Xi Jinping ally Wang Qishan 王岐山 published an article (in Chinese) in the People’s Daily on July 17 saying that the “political life” of many Party members was “not serious and unhealthy” (政治生活不严肃不健康 zhèngzhì shēnghuó bù yánsù bùjiànkāng). (See Xinhua English summary for more.)

Women not welcome in corridors of power

In the New York Times, Didi Kirsten Tatlow looks at (paywall) the conspicuous absence of women from China’s most powerful jobs.

  • “Despite China’s constitutional commitments to gender equality,” she writes, “not once since the Communists came to power in 1949 has a woman sat on the party’s highest body, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee now led by President Xi Jinping.”
  • The mandatory retirement age for women is 10 years earlier than men, “on the assumption that they are the primary caregivers for grandchildren and elderly relatives. That removes them from contention just as their careers begin to peak.”
  • For more on this problem, see The dire state of female representation in the Chinese government on SupChina.

Chinese stocks plummet after financial planning meeting

On Saturday, July 15, China’s senior leaders concluded the National Financial Work Conference which takes place every five years, with what Keith Bradsher in the New York Times calls (paywall) “modest” results: “The biggest accomplishment of the conference appeared to be an announcement that a commission would be established under the auspices of the cabinet,” known in China as the State Council.

When trading in Chinese stocks resumed on Monday, the South China Morning Post reports that “more than 2,800 stocks fell across Chinese markets…with nearly 500 dropping by their daily limit of 10 per cent.” The SCMP attributes the sell-off to “fears that the financial sector will face a prolonged period of increased scrutiny” after the National Financial Work Conference.

Winnie the Pooh censored

Images of Winnie the Pooh have been censored on Chinese social media after a spike in the circulation of memes that compared Chinese President Xi Jinping to the bear. The meme first appeared in 2013 when Xi met with U.S. President Barack Obama at Sunnylands. The BBC has the story; you can also watch our SupChina video about Pooh Bear’s online demise.

Ted Cruz renews push to change Chinese embassy address

Writing from the Lone Star State, Neil Thomas reports in the Texas Tribune that U.S. senator and failed presidential candidate Ted Cruz is “re-upping his push” to rename the street where the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., is located to “Liu Xiaobo Plaza.” Liu died from liver cancer last week while under guard in a hospital.