|First Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China|
15 March 2003 – 2 June 2007
|Preceded by||Li Lanqing|
|Succeeded by||Wu Yi (Acting)|
|Member of the 16th CPC Politburo Standing Committee|
15 November 2002 – 2 June 2007
|General Secretary||Hu Jintao|
|Mayor of Shanghai|
April 1991 – February 1994
|Preceded by||Zhu Rongji|
|Succeeded by||Xu Kuangdi|
28 September 1938|
Jiashan, Republic of China
|Died||2 June 2007
|Political party||Communist Party|
|Alma mater||Tsinghua University|
Huang Ju (28 September 1938 – 2 June 2007) was the First-ranking Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China. He joined the Communist Party of China in March 1966. He was ranked 6th out of 9, and was one of the least popular and most partisan members of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Party. Huang, considered "one of China's most mysterious politicians", was a powerful member of the Shanghai clique.
Having been both the Mayor of Shanghai and the city's party chief in the 1990s, Huang enjoyed very close relations with his patron Jiang Zemin, he was known to be strongly opposed to General Secretary and President Hu Jintao. During his tenure in Shanghai Huang and his family members were involved in various corruption cases. He died in office on 2 June 2007.
Born in Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province as Huang Deyu (黄德钰), Huang was the second of five children. Huang spent the first eighteen years of his life in Zhejiang. He attended Jiashan No.2 Middle School (嘉善二中) and Jiaxing No.1 Middle School (嘉兴一中) for high school. He attended Tsinghua University between 1956 and 1963 where he graduated in Electrical Engineering.
Huang was employed as a Technician in the foundry section of the Shanghai Artificial-board Machinery Factory (上海人造板机器厂) from 1963 to 1967. From 1967 to 1977, Huang worked as Technician in the power section of the Shanghai Zhonghua Metallurgical Factory (上海中华冶金厂), where he was also Assistant Deputy Secretary Workshop Party Branch. He became Assistant Director of the Revolutionary Committee, Deputy Plant Manager, Engineer from 1977 to 1980. He was Assistant Manager of the Shanghai Petrochemical General Machinery Company (上海市石化通用机械制造公司) from 1980 to 1982. From 1982 to 1983 he was Deputy Commissioner of the Shanghai First Mechanical and Electrical Industry Bureau (上海市第一机电工业局).
From 1983 to 1984, Huang Ju served as a member of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and City Industry Work Party Secretary; he was the Shanghai Committee's Secretary General from 1984 to 1985 and deputy Party chief from 1985 to 1986.
In 1987, Huang became one of the chosen candidates for the Mayor of Shanghai, and therefore a CCP Central Committee member, but received too few votes supporting his candidacy in Shanghai's Municipal Congress. Zhu Rongji was subsequently elected Mayor instead. When Zhu became Premier after his transfer to the Central Government in Beijing, Huang became mayor of Shanghai in 1991 and then the city's Party chief in 1994, serving until October 2002. Although he led the eastern commercial hub of Shanghai in an era of prosperity and development, he was reputed to have achieved little.
Huang served in a role to keep the city's party organization in line, and is remembered by some as having raised the incomes of Shanghai people. Among recent ex-mayors of Shanghai, Huang was also the least popular, due to his suppression of popular mayor Xu Kuangdi. Huang's reputation in the city was lower than that of Zhu Rongji or even politically disgraced Chen Liangyu.
Due to his low popularity inside the party and in the public eye, Huang's move to Beijing after Jiang Zemin's retirement in 2002 created controversy. In May 1994, after Huang's installation as the Shanghai party chief, his wife Yu Huiwen, along with Shanghai official Chen Tiedi began a charity organization allegedly for money laundering for Huang's wife and close colleagues, who received "donations" from the business elite. Although some of this money did indeed go to charity, there was a large amount of funds unaccounted for. It was unclear what Huang's involvement was in this process, but it was clear that his power in Shanghai gave license to his family.
Huang was also believed to be implicated in the Shanghai real estate scandals involving Zhou Zhengyi, one of Shanghai's business elite. Huang did little to curb monopolies in Shanghai's booming real estate sector. Public protests resulted from residents being evicted from their homes (with little or no compensation) to make way for new construction. Zhou was eventually charged with multiple counts of fraud, but only sentenced to three years in prison, which analysts speculated was due to Huang exerting his influence on the municipal courts. In addition, Huang's wife, Yu Huiwen, controlled the Shanghai pension fund, and was linked to Zhang Rongkun, who was at the centre of allegations of misappropriation of the fund's money. Huang's brother, who was made a high-ranking executive of a Pudong development firm, also moved funds for personal use.
Huang was one of the patronage appointments from Jiang's Shanghai clique to China's top decision-making body, becoming one of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee. He received the lowest number of votes among the Politburo members elected in 2002, receiving 1,455 votes in favour, out of 2,074 votes cast, and 300 votes against, unusually low in Chinese national politics, where elections are normally confirmation of selections made by consensus.
His position as First Vice-Premier was considered a figurehead role with little power, especially when compared to previous First Vice-Premiers Yao Yilin and Li Lanqing. His official portfolios were to oversee finance and banking.
Although the national media stressed his return, Huang was believed to be next in the firing line in the corruption probe after the dismissal of his close colleague Chen Liangyu in September 2006. Huang's involvement with the Shanghai Pension Fund Scandals is unclear, as the Chinese government has kept much of the investigation under wraps.
In February 2006, the South China Morning Post reported that Huang was seriously ill, and was expected to step down. Although some government officials said he had pancreatic cancer, the party never disclosed the nature of his condition. On 17 March, sources reported he was near death. Huang attended a Science and Technology forum in Beijing on 5 June, which some suggest was to show he was alive and well.
After giving a keynote speech at the State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) executives' conference on 5 January 2007, he was notably absent at the Central Conference on Financial Affairs later on that month. Although his condolences were accounted for, rank-appropriate, during Communist elder Bo Yibo's funeral, his absence prompted speculation that Huang's critical condition was preventing him from carrying out his official duties. Hong Kong media speculated that Huang was undergoing medical treatment in Shanghai. Huang appeared, looking frail, during the National People's Congress in March 2007. The government denied Huang's request to resign effective March 2007, but thereafter his position became purely ceremonial, handing over his role of oversight of the Financial Affairs portfolio to premier Wen Jiabao in January. Huang disappeared from public view in March 2007. Huang left Shanghai in April and was admitted to the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing, after which his health situation deteriorated.
Citing sources inside the 301 Military Hospital in Beijing, The Times reported that Huang died on the morning of 9 May 2007.  Phoenix Television was the only Chinese station to broadcast the news, did so on its on-screen ticker from about 19h00. However, at 19h30, the State Council denied the reports. Phoenix reported the news ostensibly in an audacious attempt to test the limits of government restrictions on news, but after the State Council denial, the TV station retracted the news and issued an apology. The government responded by closing off the south-west wing of the 301 Military Hospital; and directed that all news related to Huang on television and on the internet follow official releases from Xinhua. False rumours of Huang's death were repeated twice thereafter, used online as an opportunity to vent anger at social and political problems. The timing of the death is particularly sensitive due to its close proximity to the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Despite his being incapacitated, Huang was elected as one of Shanghai's local party representatives to the Party's 17th Party Congress on 29 May.
On 2 June 2007, Huang Ju died in Beijing. In unprecedented fashion, the English and Chinese versions of his obituary were relayed simultaneously to the country and the world only a few hours after his death, at around 6:30 am Beijing time. Official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that Huang had died at 2:03 am, of an unnamed illness, at age 69. His death was the top story on the national news program Xinwen Lianbo, where news anchors in black suits read off a dry and sober 155 word news item. The screen simply displayed "Comrade Huang Ju has passed away."
In his concise official obituary, he was hailed as a "long-tested and faithful Communist fighter and an outstanding leader of the party and the state." This posthumous designation was used for most of Communist China's high-ranking leaders. The official state media called Huang an "important member of the Central Committee Leadership under General Secretary Hu Jintao who dedicated his heart to the development of the Party and the State, and offered all of his intellectual strength and power for the cause." Former Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin, in official footage, was in tears as he shook the hands of Huang's widow Yu Huiwen.
Websites reporting Huang Ju's death forbade discussions, and internet forums censored all negative comments and speculation about Huang Ju's political life. In Shanghai, where Huang was one of the city's former Mayors, reception of his death was cold. Among the mayors of Shanghai, Huang received the lowest ratings, while his contemporaries, Zhu Rongji and Xu Kuangdi, were more popular. There were no public displays of mourning in Shanghai.
Huang was the first PSC member to die in office since Chairman Mao himself in September 1976, some thirty years earlier, and the highest-ranking communist leader to die in office since economic reforms began in 1978. He was the only First Vice-Premier ever to die in office.
Huang's funeral was notable as the highest-ranking affair for any Communist leader since Deng Xiaoping's state funeral in 1997. It was the top story on CCTV's Xinwen Lianbo national news broadcast at 7 pm on 5 June 2007, and occupied well over ten minutes of broadcast time in the half-hour program. Despite its priority and importance, however, Huang's funeral was noticeably simpler than that of previous leaders. The official "funeral" (追悼会) designation for deceased leaders was not used; rather, it was termed a "Send-off ceremony" (告别仪式). Analysts suggested that this might become the new trend for Chinese leaders. In a break with normal protocol, the funeral coverage began with Zeng Qinghong standing at the hospital awaiting Huang Ju's funeral procession, and not with Hu Jintao. All high-ranking Chinese leaders, including former Premier Zhu Rongji, attended the ceremony.
Huang's death opened a vacancy on the Politburo Standing Committee, which signaled an opportunity for the consolidation of Hu Jintao's power during the 17th Party Congress held in October 2007. However, most observers believed Huang's death would have a limited effect on Chinese politics, because Huang was absent from public life for over a year prior to his death. Huang's seat on the PSC was left vacant until a newly minted PSC at 17th Party Congress, which saw Li Keqiang being slated to take over for the position of first-ranked Vice-Premier; in the interim, Wu Yi took over some of Huang's former responsibilities at the State Council as its Vice-Premier.
Huang's death was nevertheless seen as a major political blow to the Shanghai Clique, a loose grouping of senior officials with connections to Shanghai and rose to prominence in the footsteps of the political career of President Jiang Zemin. The Shanghai Clique reportedly often found themselves at odds with those officials more closely aligned with President Hu. Huang, along with disgraced Shanghai Party Chief Chen Liangyu, who was convicted and sent to prison on charges of fraud and corruption, were both seen as staunch political opponents of Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao. Some commentators suggested that Huang's death conveniently absolved him of any responsibility in the Shanghai pension scandal and saved him and his family from political disgrace, thus avoiding any open splits in the Party's top leadership.
Huang Ju was officially eulogized with some of the highest honours given to deceased Communist Party officials, being called "an outstanding member of the Communist Party of China, a long-tested faithful fighter of the Communist cause, and an extraordinary leader of the Party and State." Huang's tenure in Shanghai was marked with high levels of economic growth and a dramatic transformation of the city's skyline and urban infrastructure. Some Shanghai residents and political commentators suggest that Huang contributed significantly to the development of the Pudong area.
Huang faced significant criticism as well. Chinese-language media speculated that Huang provided "political shelter" for real estate mogul Zhou Zhengyi, allowing the latter a free hand in the forced eviction of local residents to pave way for his company's construction projects. Zhou would eventually be sentenced to three years in prison on charges of securities fraud. The sentence, which was seen as extremely lenient by the standards of Chinese law, was allegedly due to pressure applied by Huang Ju on the city's courts. Of the 42 major construction projects in the city during Huang's tenure in Shanghai, seven was reportedly awarded to Zhou. In addition, according to Weiquan lawyer Zheng Enchong and a civil group representing those affected by forced evictions, Huang continued to unduly influence the proceedings of the Zhou case by impeding its further investigation.
Huang's legacy was the subject of a photo collection book published by the Shanghai People's Press in December 2012, entitled Huang Ju. The book's title was inscribed with the calligraphy of Jiang Zemin. The book contained photos of Huang from his early years to his days as Vice-Premier. Shanghai party chief Han Zheng attended the book launch event. The event signalled that Huang continued to be regarded positively in an official capacity.
Huang Ju died during a time when allegations of wrongdoing involving him and his family were circulating widely. Since then, some political commentators have suggested that the Communist Party may, for the sake of party unity, adapt similar "soft-landing" style methods to treat cases regarding high-ranking corrupt officials in the future. During the 2014 corruption and abuse of power investigation of Xu Caihou, a former Politburo member and Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, Chinese-language media speculated the Xu would be given the "Huang Ju treatment", i.e., that Xu, who like Huang was also ill with cancer, would be allowed to die a peaceful death and eulogized positively, with the Party turning a blind eye to his misdeeds to preserve a semblance of party unity.
Huang was married to Yu Huiwen (余慧文), who was an executive on a Shanghai Pensions board, and speculated to be involved in corruption cases in the city. In February 1995, his daughter, Huang Fan (黄凡), married James Fang Yiwei (方以伟), the son of Fang Dachuan (方大川), a pro-Taiwan newspaperman in San Francisco, for which Huang was criticized by political rivals.
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- "郑恩宠和拆迁户联名举报黄菊". Radio Free Asia. December 26, 2006.
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- "徐才厚亮相已白头 处理或参照黄菊模式". Duowei News. January 21, 2014.
- biography @ Biography, ChinaVitae.com
- Huang Ju's official biography (Chinese)
- Huang Ju's legacy in Shanghai (Chinese)
|Mayor of Shanghai
|First Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
|Party political offices|
|Communist Party Committee Secretary of Shanghai
|Order of precedence|
|6th Rank of the Communist Party of China
16th Politburo Standing Committee