In the beginning of May, Guangdong province launched a new round of massive personnel reshuffle on prefectural level—the first of its kind since the announcement of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) Plan.
On 10 May 2019, former Guangdong Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CPIT) Chairman Lin Tao (林涛)was appointed Heyuan Mayor, succeeding the outgoing Ye Meifen (叶梅芬) who is not being appointed to another post.
On 10 May 2019, former Shantou Party Secretary Fang Lixu (方利旭)was appointed Guangdong CPIT Chairman, succeeding aforementioned Lin Tao.
On 7 May 2019, former Guangzhou Vice Mayor Ma Wentian (马文田)was appointed Shantou Party Secretary, succeeding aforementioned Fang Lixu.
On 7 May 2019, former Guangdong Government Vice Secretary-General Li Yalin (李雅林)was appointed Chaozhou Party Secretary, succeeding outgoing Liu Xiaotao (刘小涛) whose new appointment is to be announced.
On 7 May 2019, former Jieyang Mayor Ye Niuping (叶牛平)was appointed Jieyang Party Secretary, succeeding outgoing Li Shuihua (李水华) whose new appointment is to be announced.
On 10 May 2019, former Guangdong Ethnic Affairs Commission Chairwoman Yuan Gujie(袁古洁) was appointed Maoming Mayor.
Ye Meifen’s departure is likely due to her potential wrongdoings. Born in 1968, Ye was only two years into her job as Heyuan Mayor and way before the retirement age limit set for mayors.
The appointment of Fang Lixu to Guangdong CPIT Chairman position is a clear signal that Guangdong CPIT’s political status is being elevated—Fang was a prefectural party secretary before joining Guangdong CPIT, while his predecessor as Guangdong CPIT Chairman Lin Tao joined Guangdong CPIT as Shanwei CCPSC member and Executive Vice Mayor, a vice-prefectural position.
However, two sources have told us that Fang’s appointment to Guangdong CPIT was more than an elevation of Guangdong CPIT status—Fang Lixu is of Teoswa origin and Shantou was a Teoswa stronghold—his move fits the pattern as Guangdong provincial leadership seeks to break down Guangdong’s local factions. In contrast, Fang’s successor as Shantou Party Secretary Ma Wentian is a non-native official known for alienating himself from Guangdong’s corrupt factions.
Similarly, non-native official Li Yalin is replacing Hakka official Liu Xiaotao as Party Secretary of Chaozhou, a Teoswa stronghold; non-native official Ye Liuping is replacing Hakka official Li Shuihua as Party Secretary of Jieyang, another Teoswa prefecture. The appointments are clearly coordinated moves to weaken the power of local Teoswa and Hakka officials.
A Hunan native, Zhang Jianfei was initially promoted onto vice-provincial level in November 2013 as Hunan Vice Governor, and then took concurrent appointment as Hunan SASAC Party Secretary, a position that only has full-departmental ranking, in July 2017. Zhang was promoted into Hunan CCPSC in December 2017, and gave up his vice governorship one month later in January 2018, only keeping the Hunan SASAC Party Secretary position. In such way, Zhang is the only provincial CCPSC member nationwide that takes the concurrent appointment as provincial SASAC Party Secretary. It is possible that the leadership of Hunan really valued SASAC work, but it is still highly unprecedented to have a provincial CCPSC member supervising SASAC.
Now that Zhang has taken the position of Hunan CCP Committee Secretary-General, we expect him to give up the Hunan SASAC Party Secretary position in the very near future.