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Mulher mais poderosa da China lidera serviço de intelligence política

Entre as missões do departamento que lidera está a “promoção de boas relações” com os setores não-comunistas da China, incluindo os de Hong Kong.

Na nomeação de Sun Chunlan como chefe do serviço de intelligence política da China, o Departamento da Frente Unida de Trabalho (ou Zhongyang Lianluobu), está parte da resposta à especulação sobre quão dura será a reação de Pequim face a Hong Kong, depois dos protestos anti-governamentais. O facto de o presidente chinês, Xi Jinping, a ter escolhido revela, de um modo claro, a vontade de exercer maior influência na região administrativa especial.

Com nota de relevo destaque para o facto de ser uma das duas únicas mulheres do poderoso Politburo (grupo  que supervisiona o Partido Comunista da China) e a mais alta graduada do partido a encabeçar este departamento nas últimas três décadas – quando o general Wu Lanfu, apelidado de “Rei da Mongólia”, assumiu o cargo em 1970. Um sinal claro da vontade (e necessidade) de controlo direto da situação pelo topo da hierarquia política chinesa.

A atual mulher mais poderosa da China, como se previa há 3 anos quando assumiu a liderança do partido em Tianjin, substitui Ling Jihua, ex-conselheiro do presidente Hu Jintao, demitido depois de se tornar mais um alvo de alto nível sob investigação de corrupção.

Politburo heavyweight moves into key Hong Kong role

Xi puts Politburo woman into United Front job signalling an upgrade in its influence on city

Tammy Tam

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 January, 2015, 5:49am

UPDATED : Monday, 26 January, 2015, 5:49am

Sun Chunlan is replacing Ling Jihua as head of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. Photo: Reuters

Speculation on just how tough Beijing’s attitude to Hong Kong will become following the Occupy protests should not ignore the recent change at the helm of the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, whose roles include the promotion of good relations with China’s non-communist camps, including those in this city.

Replacing the disgraced Ling Jihua as head of the department is Sun Chunlan, former party chief of Tianjin and one of only two women in the powerful Politburo. Ling, once an adviser to then-president Hu Jintao, was sacked after becoming yet another high-level target of a graft investigation.

One aspect of Sun’s appointment that deserves more attention is that she is the highest ranking official within the party to head this department for more than three decades – when general Wu Lanfu, dubbed the “King of Mongolia”, took up the job in the 1970s. His role was to repair relations between the Communist leadership and minority ethnic groups after the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

The appointment of another Politburo member to the post after more than three decades comes after the job was held by a succession of vice-chairmen of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, usually a retired senior official deemed suitable for a role in forging relations rather than policies.

It’s worth noticing that shortly before Sun’s appointment, Party Secretary Xi Jinping chaired a Politburo meeting in mid-December in which a decision was made to improve the ruling party’s relations with the people by enhancing both standards of living and public consultation on major policies.

The signal the appointment sends is clear. Xi is making the work of the United Front one of his priorities – not only as a way of consolidating his own power but also as a means of maintaining effective rule of the party. To put it in a more direct way, the United Front would appear to be no longer a talk shop, organising seminars and inviting political and social heavyweights to dine, but will become more proactive.

It is a bit too early to tell how that will affect Hong Kong. After all, the department’s role in the city is just one of its many responsibilities.

Liu Yandong headed the department before Ling and she could be a good point of reference for Sun. Liu came to Shenzhen in 2012 to personally lobby Hong Kong’s pro-establishment members of the 1,200-strong election committee to vote for Leung Chun-ying as chief executive – after Beijing dropped support for Henry Tang Ying-yen, who was then embroiled in his illegal structure scandal. Liu was later made vice-premier and promoted into the Politburo. She and Sun are now the only two female members.

While Sun, 63, does not have much direct experience dealing with Hong Kong, she has been handling the affairs of major local authorities for 40 years. She was party chief of Fujian between 2009 and 2012, where she became familiar with Taiwan issues. Her experience in Tianjin, one of four direct-controlled municipalities, won her a reputation for being “frank and pragmatic”. And an earlier role as chairwoman of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions was a training ground for dealing with interest groups.

We shall see how Xi’s deployment of key positions will play out in Hong Kong.


This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Heavyweight moves into key HK role

China’s most powerful woman – but how far can Sun Chunlan go?

Clifford Coonan . Beijing . Wednesday 21 November 2012


Critics claim seat at Communist Party’s all-male top table will remain closed to new chief of key province

After a leadership transition that left women off the top table of power, the Chinese government has promoted one of its most senior female officials to be the Communist Party chief of the northern city of Tianjin.

It’s a move which could lead to Sun Chunlan, 62, becoming the most powerful woman in China, as it might help her secure a place on the all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee in five years’ time.

Ms Sun, who was previously party chief in Fujian province in the south, is one of only two women on the Politburo, a 25-member panel that reports to the seven-man Standing Committee.

Just half an hour by high-speed train from Beijing, Tianjin is being transformed into a global financial hub and her predecessor as party chief, Zhang Gaoli, was elevated to the Standing Committee last week during the party congress.

“Sun Chunlan’s promotion was a reward for her loyalty to the centre and her political correctness… in five years she will definitely be the most senior woman politician,” Willy Wo-Lap Lam, an adjunct professor of history at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said. “But I don’t think she has what it takes to go one step further into the Politburo Standing Committee. I don’t think the Chinese Communist Party is serious about promoting women. The old boys’ network is all-important. And most party leaders still harbour staunchly patriarchal views,” said Mr Lam.

Much of the focus since the election at last week’s 18th Party Congress of the Standing Committee, which is led by the Communist Party’s new general secretary, Xi Jinping, has been on whether it plans reform.

A Reuters report yesterday said that retired leaders in the party used a last-minute straw poll to block two pro-reform candidates from joining the Standing Committee.

Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at the University of Sydney, believes Ms Sun’s prospects are good.

“The Communist Party can’t go on being a wholly male-dominated  empire when there are so many  very, very successful female entrepreneurs, and women are now such a major part if the workforce. The party needs to feminise itself. Elevating a woman to the Standing Com- mittee would be a start,” he said.

Tianjin is very much a showcase city for China’s advances in the past three decades of reform and has seen a massive influx of investment. More than £100m was spent in the last three years  on fixed asset investment alone on the Yujiapu housing development, which the government is trying to sell as its Manhattan. The city recorded 16.4 per cent growth  in 2011.

“Her expertise is trade union-related “mass organisation” work, not high technology or finance, which makes one wonder whether she is the right person to run Tianjin,” Mr Lam said. “This is a sign of retrogression.”

Steve Tsang, of the China Policy Research Institute at the University of Nottingham, is not so sure that Ms Sun’s record in Fujian qualifies her to oversee the transformation of Tianjin. “The creation of another global financial centre that is comparable to Shanghai, let alone Hong Kong, will take quite a lot, and certainly more than the drive of its party secretary,” he said.

“Having said that, being put in charge of one of the special municipalities is a significant promotion, and being put in charge of Tianjian implies that she is now well placed to move higher still, if she proves herself,” he added.

Leaps forward: Powerful women

Liu Yandong

One of two female members of China’s Politburo, Ms Liu narrowly missed a promotion to become the first woman to join the all-powerful, seven-member Standing Committee at China’s recent power-transition.

Wu Yajun

Formerly China’s richest woman (she gave her ex-husband shares worth over HK$20 bn (£1.6bn) as part of their divorce settlement this week) the self-made multibillionaire remains a powerful figure in Chinese business.

Dong Mingzhu

Known to her many acolytes as “Sister Dong”, the formidable and charismatic businesswoman runs Gree, the world’s biggest maker of home air conditioners. She is quoted as saying: “I never miss. I never admit mistakes and I am always correct.”

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