Shandong Party Secretary Li Ganjie, 57, and Beijing Mayor Chen Jining, 57, are environmental experts. Liaoning Party Secretary Zhang Guoqing, 58, was CEO of China North Industries – China’s largest defense conglomerate, and Fujian Party Secretary Yin Li, 60, is a public health expert.
Aside from Ma and Yuan, the other four studied abroad after graduating from Chinese universities. Li studied nuclear safety in France and Chen received his PhD in environmental sciences from Imperial College London. Yin studied in Russia and the United States, and Zhang is a graduate of a Harvard executive program.
While Ma is expected to remain Xinjiang Party leader, Chen is set to replace Cai Qi as Beijing Party leader after the 66-year-old was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee.
Yuan, meanwhile, is set to succeed Li Xi as Guangdong party leader. Like Cai, Li was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee.
Similarly, other officials with science and technology expertise have joined the 205-strong Central Committee. That includes 29 members of China’s academies of science and engineering, up from 25 five years ago, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Additionally, 98.9 percent of Central Committee members have a college degree — with representation from a variety of academic disciplines — compared to 98.1 percent in 2017.
Likewise, more military elites have track records in science and technology. they include Central Military Commission (CMC) member Li Shangfu, 64; President of the Academy of Military Sciences Yang Xuejun, 59; and Zhao Xiaozhe, 59, and deputy director of the CMC’s Science and Technology Committee.
Other notable new leaders with a military science background include Hunan Party Secretary Zhang Qingwei, 60, and Sichuan Governor Huang Qiang, 59, known for his contribution to the design of China’s J-20 stealth fighter jet.
Wu Junfei, a researcher with the Hong Kong-China Economic and Cultural Development Association, said the promotion of these scholarly specialists is mainly based on their “proven loyalty, track record, strong execution and efficiency,” but also shows Xi’s determination to promote China’s own scholarly science – and technological strength.
The country is trying to deal with restrictions from the United States, including bans advanced chip technologiesXi has vowed to promote Chinese scientific and technological research and achieve “self-reliance” in terms of technology.
Washington is new Chips and Science Law also prevented American companies from setting up advanced chip factories in China for the next 10 years.
Wu said the cadres with science backgrounds are “generally more down-to-earth compared to cadres from other streams. It will be a well-rehearsed team that understands technology and thinks in a goal-oriented manner.”
“These are the people who have previously undertaken some of China’s most important and ambitious national projects,” he said.
“In the case of aerospace industry professionals Ma Xingrui and Yuan Jiajun, they promised a set of goals for China’s space program and delivered them 100 percent.
“The defense industry has provided better tanks and fighter jets for the modernization of the Chinese armed forces. Environmental authorities have also made themselves felt in recent years, significantly reducing China’s air, soil and water pollution.”