The technocratic credentials of the Communist Party’s Central Committee were boosted at the recently concluded party congress in Beijing, with two former engineers with a background in the defence industries, including the aerospace sector, joining the 204-member body.
Zhejiang governor Yuan Jiajun and Jin Zhuanglong, the former chairman of Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) who is now first deputy to President Xi Jinping on an important military-civilian integration committee, join at least seven existing members with a similar background.
Six of the former engineers, including Yuan and Jin, used to work for China Aerospace Space Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) and the others worked for Chinese defence conglomerates.
Due to its reliance on advanced technology, the aerospace sector was an indicator of a country’s comprehensive national power and symbol of “modernisation” – a goal set by party chief Xi at the congress – Xu Shijie, a missile scientist at Beihang University, said.
China has invested heavily in the sector this century because of its importance in international strategic competition and the development of military technology.
CASTC management has delivered on the top leadership’s expectations, having been rated in the top rank of central-government-owned enterprises for 13 years in a row. Last year it was ranked No 1.
Xu said the elevation of Yuan, Jin and the other former CASTC engineers was understandable because they had performed well and had shown they had the ability to manage difficult, large and complicated projects.
“With years of being grass-roots scientific researchers, they think differently from those who always work in administrative jobs,” said Xu, who briefly worked with some of them before they left the industry.
Yuan joins four other provincial leaders who used to be CASTC engineers in the Central Committee: Heilongjiang party secretary Zhang Qingwei, Guangdong governor Ma Xingrui, Liaoning governor Chen Qiufa and Hunan governor Xu Dazhe. Zhang, Ma and Yuan are still in their 50s, as in Jin.
Two other Central Committee members with a similar background are Wang Yong, who became a state councillor four years ago, and Hao Peng, who has been director of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission since last year.
The emergence of such technocrats in politics comes in the wake of some landmark aerospace achievements under their leadership.