Younger, university-trained officials rise to top of China's bureaucracy
China's new governmental lineup reflects Premier Zhao Ziyang's emphasis on central planning, balanced growth, and rejuvenation. Mr. Zhao's report to the National People's Congress June 6 and those of Vice-Premier Yao Yilin and Finance Minister Wang Bingqian all stressed the importance of planned growth, and of not letting heavy industry get out of hand.
The personnel changes announced June 20 are in line with this emphasis and put younger people in tune with Premier Zhao's thinking into key cabinet positions. Wan Li remains first deputy premier and Yao Yilin as deputy premier in charge of the economy. But Li Peng, who is 55, and Tian Jiyun, who is 54, have been named deputy premiers as well. Mr. Li will probably take charge of energy, and Mr. Tian will likely be secretary-general of the Cabinet.
Ages are important because most of China's top leaders including Deng Xiaoping are in their 70s or 80s and there has been a concerted attempt to bring down the average age of leaders immediately below this top echelon.
Hu Yaobang, general secretary of the Communist Party, and Premier Zhao are both proteges of Mr. Deng and are in their mid-60s. The day-to-day running of the government and party is largely in their hands, but they require the strong support of Mr. Deng, who is firmly in control of the armed forces, and of Chen Yun, who retains wide prestige in the fields of economics and of party morale. Mr. Deng is understood to have refused all offers made to him to take over the chairmanship of the party or the presidency of the state.
The new president of China is Li Xiannian. But Deng is chairman of the party's military commission, and on June 18 the National People's Congress elected him chairman of the government's new Central Military Commission which controls the armed forces.
Premier Zhao's strong point is administration and the economy. The ambitious target of economic modernization which the leadership has set for China will depend largely on how effective and well-coordinated an economic plan Mr. Zhao and his Cabinet can devise. And it will also depend on how efficient an administrative machinery they can fashion to bring the plan to fruition.
Li Peng is an electrical engineer who spent the years 1948 to 1954 studying in the Soviet Union. As the son of a revolutionary martyr he came early to former Premier Chou Enlai's attention. His career has benefited accordingly. He typifies the new generation of university-trained, technically competent officials who Mr. Zhao wants to place in key positions throughout China's vast and still rather inchoate bureaucracy.
Mr. Tian has written extensively on economic affairs. He is considered a protege of Mr. Zhao, having served under him in Sichuan. He was brought to Peking to serve as deputy secretary-general of the Cabinet (or State Council as the Chinese institution is called), and has now been catapulted to national prominence. Other changes in economic ministries are believed to be more or less in line with Mr. Zhao's cautious and pragmatic approach to government and the economy.