Wang Yang (politician)

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Wang Yang
Wang Yang (Chinese politician) Washington 2013.jpg
Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
Assumed office
16 March 2013
Serving with Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Ma Kai
Premier Li Keqiang
Preceded by Zhang Dejiang
15th CPC Guangdong Committee Secretary
In office
22 October 2007 – 18 December 2012
Preceded by Zhang Dejiang
Succeeded by Hu Chunhua
14th CPC Chongqing Committee Secretary
In office
Preceded by Huang Zhendong
Succeeded by Bo Xilai
Personal details
Born (1955-03-12) 12 March 1955 (age 60)
Suzhou, Anhui
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Alma mater Central Party School, College of Continuing Education
University of Science and Technology of China
Cabinet Li Keqiang Government
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Wang.

Wang Yang (Chinese: 汪洋; pinyin: Wāng Yáng; born 12 March 1955) is a high-ranking Chinese politician. He is one of the four Vice Premiers of China in Premier Li Keqiang's Government. Until January 2013, he served as the Communist Party Secretary of Guangdong; the southern Chinese province's top office. He served as the party secretary of Chongqing, an interior municipality, from 2005 to 2007. First as the holder of an important regional post, and now as a vice premier, Wang also holds a seat on the Politburo of the Communist Party of China, the country's ruling council.

Wang is seen as one of the leading reformers in China's top leadership, and is often credited with pioneering the Guangdong model of development, characterized by an emphasis on private enterprise, economic growth and a greater role for civil society. He is widely considered to be one of the most strongly 'liberal' members of the Chinese elite, advocating for economic and political reform.

Early life[edit]

Wang was born in Suzhou, Anhui. Between 1972 and 1976, he worked as a food processing factory hand before being promoted to supervisor. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1975. He subsequently joined the local Party School as an instructor, before going on to study political economics at the dawn of Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms at the Central Party School in 1979. He returned to his hometown as a party policy instructor before joining the local Communist Youth League organization – where he would ascend to the provincial organization by 1984. He then moved on to work as the Deputy Director and Director of the Anhui Provincial Sports Bureau until 1988.

His first tenure with civil administration was in Tongling, Anhui, beginning in 1988. He would serve on the municipal administration as its deputy party secretary, acting mayor, and mayor, while also concurrently attempting to earn a degree in political administration at the Central Party School. He would rise to become the provincial Governor's assistant the following year, and promoted to Vice-Governor of Anhui between 1993 and 1998. He was finally sent to work in the central government as the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, and then as deputy secretary general of the State Council between 2003 and 2005.[1]


Wang served as the Party Committee Secretary in Chongqing, a western interior municipality, from 2005 to 2007. Wang's track record in Chongqing earned him national attention, for his work of bringing a geographically remote and relatively underdeveloped region onto the international scene. In Chongqing, Wang won praise for handling a sensitive urban demolition case. He was also the pioneer of media reforms in the municipality.[2] Since 1 January 2007, Chongqing media no longer gave priority to the activities of the city's municipal leaders in daily news broadcasts, instead focusing on stories about ordinary people, which resulted in an increase of coverage about agriculture, rural life and rural migrant workers.[2]

In 2007 Wang was succeeded as Chongqing party secretary by Bo Xilai. After taking Wang's place, Bo orchestrated a sweeping campaign against local gangsters. Political observers noted that Bo's crime-fighting efforts were implicitly critical of Wang Yang, since Wang may now be criticized for tolerating the mafia-related corruption of the police and judiciary of Chongqing,[3] and for tolerating organized crime in general.[4]


As part of a party-wide reshuffle of regional leaders, Wang Yang was slated to become Party Committee Secretary of Guangdong after the 17th Party Congress, and took on the post in November 2007. As the post is one of the most important regional leadership offices in China, he also earned a seat on the Communist Party's Politburo, the country's top ruling council.

He is known as a reformer and has been instrumental in pushing the more liberalized Guangdong province towards greater economic and political freedoms.[5] This has been part of a broader movement to make Shenzhen a pioneer city in China's new economy. Amidst the Global financial crisis of 2008, Wang disagreed with the central government's policies on small and medium-sized businesses, remarking in controversy that they are "not productive and will eventually be eliminated by the market."[6] He also made remarks such as "those businesses going bankrupt should go bankrupt".[7] After a visit to the Pearl River Delta by Premier Wen Jiabao, who was in favour of protecting small and medium-sized enterprises, there was little sign that the Wang-led Guangdong government would follow central government directives. A politically motivated Beijing was sensitive to this move.

In 2009, Wang wished to re-instate the May Day week-long holiday in Guangdong. The holiday was removed from the calendar by central authorities a few years earlier. However, the decision was subsequently reversed by the central government.

Wang won praise for his handling of the Wukan protests in 2011. Under his leadership the provincial government offered concessions to protesting villagers and allowed local elections for a new village chief.[8] Moreover, Wang became an outspoken critic of corruption and nepotism, reputedly running into conflict with the family of the late general Ye Jianying. Ye's family had extensive economic and political interests in Guangdong. As a result, some have questioned Wang's "political reliability", i.e. how loyal he is to the party's old guard.[9]

Central Government[edit]

Wang Yang was promoted to Vice Premier of Li Keqiang Government at the 2013 National People's Congress, overseeing portfolios of agriculture, water management, commerce, tourism, and poverty reduction.

Political positions and public image[edit]

Wang is often seen as a leading liberal in China's ruling elite, representing a school of thought that advocates for a greater role of the free market, gradual political liberalization, and a government that is more in touch with the needs of ordinary people.[10] Although he has been generally more daring in challenging party orthodoxy compared to his peers, analysts suggest that he is unlikely to directly challenge the party line.[10]

Wang is also seen as an advocate for market-based solutions to economic development. If economic growth were analogous to baking a cake, Wang said that the priority should be to "bake a cake" rather than to divide it, i.e., economic growth takes precedence over wealth re-distribution. This was in stark contrast to the "Chongqing model" advanced by Bo Xilai, which suggests that wealth should be re-distributed fairly first, or that wealth redistribution and economic growth can take place simultaneously.[11] Wang and Bo's opposing views on what was dubbed the "Cake Theory" have been characterized as an increasingly apparent "left-right" ideological divide within China's ruling elite.[11]

Wang is often seen smiling in public and has been known to shun hair dye, unlike most of his colleagues. Wang is also known to make offhand and often humorous remarks in public. As the top economic official representing China at the 2013 U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Wang compared the relationship between China and the United States as that of a married couple. In a session with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Wang remarked "I am aware that the US allows gay marriage, but I don't think Jacob and I have such intentions." He later added that China and the United States should not "choose the path of a divorce", stating, "like that of Wendy Deng and Rupert Murdoch, it is just too expensive".[12]


  1. ^ Xinhua's Official Biography of Wang
  2. ^ a b Fang, Tak-ho (3 May 2007). "Wang Yang: A rising star in China". Asia Times. Retrieved 26 March 2012. 
  3. ^ Ewing, Kent. (19 March 2010). "Bo Xilai: China's Brash Populist". Asia Times. Retrieved 16 June 2011.
  4. ^ Sisci, Francesco. (20 April 2011). "Bo Xilai Focuses Multiparty Vision". Asia Times. Retrieved on 16 July 2011.
  5. ^ [1] China's Shenzhen starts spreading the news
  6. ^ Oriental Daily. "Guangdong's regionalism and its disapproval from the Central Government (广东本位主义麻木不仁 中央很不满意)" (in Chinese). Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  7. ^ Duowei: Central Government Criticizes Guangdong's sole focus on Economy
  8. ^ "Southern Chinese Leader Wang Yang's Star Rises With Angela Merkel's Visit". Bloomberg News. 2 February 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  9. ^ Johnson, Ian (13 November 2012). "Dynasty of Different Order Is Reshaping China". New York Times. 
  10. ^ a b Jacobs, Andrew (5 November 2012). "As China Awaits New Leadership, Liberals Look to a Provincial Party Chief". New York Times. 
  11. ^ a b Fang, Ming (14 July 2011). "路线之争?汪薄"蛋糕论"各出招 (Is Bo & Wang's spat a war over party line?)". Duowei. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  12. ^ Boehler, Patrick (11 July 2013). "Chinese vice-premier's gay marriage joke at US summit applauded at home". South China Morning Post. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Huang Zhendong
Secretary of the CPC Chongqing Committee
Succeeded by
Bo Xilai
Preceded by
Zhang Dejiang
Secretary of the CPC Guangdong Committee
Succeeded by
Hu Chunhua