Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Economic Post to Be Filled by Ally of Zhao Ziyang

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Economic Post to Be Filled by Ally of Zhao Ziyang

Article excerpt

IN a new sign of the power struggle in China's leadership, hard-line Premier Li Peng has been replaced in a key ministerial post by a man who Chinese sources say has links to Zhao Ziyang, the ousted moderate Communist Party leader.

Mr. Li's withdrawal from the Cabinet post follows months of speculation by Chinese and foreign observers that the Soviet-trained technocrat is slotted for replacement as premier, possibly within a year.

A staunch conservative, Li is highly unpopular for his role in supporting the June 4, 1989, massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing. Nevertheless, he retains considerable power as the protege of veteran party conservatives like Marxist economist Chen Yun, say Western diplomats and Chinese sources.

Li was "relieved from his duties" as concurrent minister of the influential State Economic Restructuring Commission Friday by the executive body of China's parliament, the official People's Daily reported.

The commission formulated many of China's critical market-oriented economic reforms under Mr. Zhao's guidance in the 1980s, and remains active in drafting new reforms.

The parliament appointed Chen Jinhua, president of the China National Petrochemical Corporation (CNPC), to head the commission, upon Li's nomination. The Constitution stipulates that the premier nominate ministers of the State Council, China's Cabinet.

Little detail is known about the political affiliations of Mr. Chen. But Chinese sources within the CNPC say Chen enjoyed close ties to Zhao, the moderate party leader ousted in June 1989 for allegedly supporting the democracy movement.

When the CNPC was established upon Zhao's request in 1983, Chen was named as its head, the sources say. Zhao, then premier, later defended the corporation against attacks by provincial leaders angered by CNPC's monopoly over China's petrochemical industry revenues.

In 1988, after Zhao became party general secretary, Chen was considered as a candidate for the powerful post of party chief of Shanghai, the sources say. …

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