Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NPC Session Approves New Premier's Cabinet

The line-up of China's new State Council nominated by the new premier, Wen Jiabao, sailed through the seventh plenary meeting of the first session of the 10th National People's Congress Monday afternoon.


China's top legislative body Monday approved the cabinet nominated by new Premier Wen Jiabao.

One day before the close of the first session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the nearly 3,000 deputies voted for the members of the State Council, China's cabinet, including four vice-premiers, five State councilors, the secretary-general of the State Council and 28 ministerial members of the State Council.

They also voted for the members of the nine special committees of the 10th NPC.

Huang Ju, Wu Yi, Zeng Peiyan and Hui Liangyu were approved as vice-premiers.

Wu Yi became the second female vice-premier in the history of the People's Republic of China, following Chen Muhua, who served in this post between May 1982 and June 1983.

The top legislature approved Zhou Yongkang, Cao Gangchuan, Tang Jiaxuan, Hua Jianmin and Chen Zhili as State councilors.

Hua was also approved as secretary-general of the State Council, while Cao also serves as the Minister of Defence.

Veteran diplomat Li Zhaoxing was promoted from vice-foreign minister to Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Li, the former ambassador to the United States, told reporters several minutes after the announcement: "We will, as always, pursue the independent foreign policy of peace.''

Zhou Xiaochuan remains governor of the People's Bank of China, while Li Jinhua keeps the post of the auditor-general of the National Audit Office.

With 36 members, the new cabinet is the smallest one since 1949.

"It is a capable and vigorous cabinet,'' said Han Zaifen, an NPC deputy from East China's Anhui Province.

Last week, the top legislative body endorsed the reshuffle programme of the State Council which reorganizes the State Development Planning Commission into the State Development and Reform Commission.

"Unlike previous reorganizations which were focused on downsizing, the new scheme is devoted to bringing the government's role into line with the market economy,'' said Li Lemin, an NPC deputy from Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"I have confidence that the newly restructured cabinet will perform its functions of economic macrocontrol, market supervision, social management and public service very well,'' he added.

Ma Kai was approved Monday as the minister of the new commission. He was previously vice-secretary-general of the State Council.

Lu Fuyuan was approved as head of the newly established Ministry of Commerce, which was combined by the former Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation and the State Economic and Trade Commission under the reshuffle programme.

Among the 28 ministerial members of the cabinet, 15 were ministers in the previous cabinet.

"I hope the ministers who are set to start a second term in the old posts will do a better job than the one that just ended,'' said Mai Kangsen, professor with the Qingdao based Ocean University of China.

"They have worked in their posts for five years. So they should know their jobs quite well. I hope they will look for the aspects in which they did not perform well in the last term and take this opportunity to improve,'' Mai added.

Tian Fengshan, who will retain the post of Minister of Land and Resources, said he thanked legislators for choosing him again.

"We will carry out our duties by law... I understand that land and resources are vital to the development of national economy, particularly to China's sustainable development,'' Tian said.

Minister of Culture Sun Jiazheng said he will take up his "old'' job with some fresh perspectives in his second term.

"Our ministry will create more favourable conditions for culture and art and artists to thrive, and support all, including private enterprises, to develop Chinese culture,'' he said.

Most of the NPC deputies felt upbeat about the structure of the new cabinet.

"They are younger, better-educated and more professional,'' said Fan Zengsheng, an NPC deputy from Taiwan.

The average age of the new ministerial members is 58.7 years. The Minister of Communications Zhang Chunxian, aged 49, is the youngest cabinet member.

Fourteen members of the ministerial members have masters' degrees.

Minister of Education Zhou Ji and Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the country's central bank have doctorates. Zhou Ji, along with the Minister of Science and Technology Xu Guanhua are academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Sciences.

"I think they are all able people. I hope they will have a down-to-earth attitude towards their job and work hard,'' said Li Rongrong, former minister of the State Economic and Trade Commission.

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Line-up of China's State Council ministers

China's New State Councilors Approved

Vice-premiers of China's New Cabinet Approved

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