Wang Yang 汪洋
One of China's Top Future Leaders to Watch
- Born 1955
- Guangdong party secretary (2007–present)
- Politburo member (2007–present)
- Full member of the Central Committee of the CCP (2007–present)
Personal and Professional Background
Wang Yang was born in 1955 in Suzhou County, Anhui Province, and joined the CCP in 1975. He studied political publicity in a political economics program at the Central Party School (CPS) in Beijing (1979–1980), received a bachelor’s degree in public administration from the CPS (via correspondence courses, 1989–1992), and received a master’s degree in management science through part-time studies at the China University of Science and Technology in Hefei City, Anhui Province (1996). Wang also pursued mid-career cadre training at the CPS in Beijing twice (1997 and 2001). He began his career as a worker in a food factory in Suxian County, Anhui Province, and advanced it first through the Chinese Communist Youth League (CCYL), serving as CCYL deputy secretary of Suxian (1981–82), propaganda director of the CCYL Anhui Provincial Committee (1982–83), and deputy secretary of the CCYL Anhui Provincial Committee (1983–84). He headed the Anhui Provincial Sports Commission (1984–88), served as mayor of Tongling City (Anhui Province, 1988–1992), chairman of Anhui Province’s Economic Planning Commission, and as assistant governor of the province (1992–93). At the age of 38, Wang was appointed executive vice governor of Anhui Province, holding the post from 1993 to 1999. He was then transferred to the central government (1999) to serve as vice minister of the National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC, 1999–2003) and deputy secretary-general of the State Council (2003–05). He served as party secretary of Chongqing (2005–07). Wang was first elected to the Central Committee as an alternate member at the 16th Party Congress (2002).
Family and Patron-Client Ties
Wang was born into a humble family. His father died when Wang was a young boy. As the eldest child, he began to work at the age of 17 to help his mother support the family. Wang has been widely considered a protégé of Hu Jintao, with whom he developed strong patron-client ties in the early 1980s when Hu was the head of the CCYL and Wang was deputy secretary of the Anhui Provincial CCYL Committee. Some PRC journalists recently reported that it was Deng Xiaoping who “found” Wang Yang in 1992 when Deng visited Anhui and met this 37-year-old mayor of Tongling City. Deng was quoted as saying: “Wang Yang is an exceptional talent.”
Political Prospects and Policy Preferences
Wang possesses broad leadership experience in both the central government (the NDRC and the State Council) and in major provincial posts (in inland Chongqing and coastal Guangdong). If Wang Qishan is not given the position of executive vice premier, Wang Yang will likely seek it in order to gain a concurrent seat on the Politburo Standing Committee. Alternatively, Wang may serve either as secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which is responsible for party discipline and investigation of corruption, or secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, which is responsible for public security. But the possible reduction of PSC seats from nine to seven may undermine his chance for promotion. Wang was often seen as a main rival of Bo Xilai, but Bo’s downfall does not necessarily mean an absolute victory for Wang. Other princelings now believe that Wang’s power and influence will expand very quickly, and thus they may create barriers to his quick advancement to the PSC, the pinnacle of power. Wang’s hot-button issues include the transformation of China’s economy from an export-driven one reliant on cheap labor to an innovation-led model driven by domestic consumption; the promotion of intra-party democracy and village elections; media transparency; and bolder political reforms.
 For more information about Wang Yang’s family background and his early experiences, see Du Zijia 窦梓稼, Biography of Wang Yang: That “Wolf” in China’s Political Arena (汪洋传：中国政坛那匹“狼”; New York: Mirror Books, 2009); and Wang Yaohua 王耀华, Competition among Provincial Chiefs (诸侯争锋, New York, Mirror Books, 2009), pp. 13–58. For Wang’s recent views on and efforts toward political and economic reforms in Guangdong, see Cheng Li, “Hu’s Southern Expedition: Changing Leadership in Guangdong,” China Leadership Monitor, no. 24, Spring 2008.
 Earth week (大地周刊), No. 23, 2009; also see http://news.hexun.vnet.cn/2010-01- 02/122228741.html.
Editor's Note: The profile above was prepared by the China Center's Cheng Li and originally appeared in the China Leadership Monitor.