Xi Associate Chen Appointed to Lead Major Chinese Metropolis

  • Change comes before Communist Party reshuffle later this year
  • Chen Miner becomes party chief of Chongqing province

A Chinese provincial party chief with ties to President Xi Jinping has been appointed to lead a major metropolis in the country’s southwest ahead of a Communist Party leadership reshuffle later this year.

Chen Miner, 56, was on Saturday named party chief of Chongqing, one of four centrally-administered municipalities alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

Chen Miner

Photographer: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Xi will preside over a once-every-five years power transfer later this year in which the majority of the ruling Politburo’s 25 members are expected to be reshuffled. Having his status announced as “core leader” at a party conclave last October could give Xi greater sway in deciding the next crop of leaders, particularly the smaller Politburo Standing Committee.

Chongqing’s party chiefs have been represented on the Politburo since 2007.

Chen’s career has dovetailed with Xi. He advanced to governor of the southwestern province of Guizhou -- his first provincial-level promotion -- in December 2012, shortly after Xi became overall party chief. In July 2015, Chen was promoted to provincial party chief, only the third regional party boss born in the 1960s.

As propaganda chief previously in Zhejiang, which Xi led from 2002 to 2007, Chen shepherded Xi’s regular column in the provincial newspaper. More than 200 of those columns were compiled into a book touted as the origins of Xi’s political philosophies.

Big Data

His major policy initiative in Guizhou was to promote the province as China’s big data hub. Guiyang, its capital city, hosted the China International Big Data Industry Expo in May, and Apple Inc. announced this week it would establish its first Chinese data center in Guizhou.

The statement carried by the official Xinhua News Agency did not mention the status of departing Chongqing party chief Sun Zhengcai, one of the two youngest current Politburo members.

Chonqqing was at the epicenter of China’s elite politics five years ago in the lead-up to the 18th Party Congress. Bo Xilai, the then-party chief and a Politburo member, was convicted for corruption and his wife was also sentenced to life in jail over a murder case.

In February the party’s top anti-graft agency, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, issued a statement after its inspection trip to Chongqing that the municipality fell short of “clearing toxic residue” from Bo’s governance. In June, state media said the Chongqing’s top police officer, He Ting, had been relieved of his post.

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