|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)|
|Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai|
September 1994 – October 2002
|Preceded by||Wu Bangguo|
|Succeeded by||Chen Liangyu|
|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|
|Children||1 son, 1 daughter|
|Alma mater||Tsinghua University|
Huang Ju (28 September 1938 – 2 June 2007) was a Chinese politician and a high-ranking leader in the Communist Party of China. He was a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision making body, between 2002 and 2007, and also served as the first-ranked Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China beginning in 2003. He died in office before he could complete his terms on the Standing Committee and as Vice-Premier.
An electrical engineer by trade, Huang was a close confidante of party leader and President Jiang Zemin, to whom he owed his rise to power. He served as Mayor of Shanghai between 1991 and 1994, then Communist Party Secretary of the metropolis between 1994 and 2002. Huang's career in Shanghai and his family's alleged involvement in several corruption cases in the city generated controversy. After 2002, Huang emerged as one of the least popular and most partisan members of China's top leadership, and was named by observers as a "core member" of the Shanghai clique.
Early life and career
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 also served as deputy lead of the production party group. He became deputy director of the Revolutionary Committee (during the Cultural Revolution, the highest day-to-day authority), Deputy Plant Manager, while working as an 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 standing member of the Shanghai Municipal Party Committee and secretary of the industry affairs committee; he was the Shanghai Party Committee's Secretary General from 1984 to 1985 and deputy party chief in charge of propaganda from 1985 to 1986.
In 1987, Huang was named as a candidate for the Mayor of Shanghai, but received too few votes supporting his candidacy by the municipal People's Congress. Zhu Rongji was subsequently elected mayor instead. When Zhu ascended to Beijing to become governor of China's central bank, Huang became mayor of Shanghai in 1991 and then the city's party chief in 1994, serving until October 2002. In September 1994 he entered the Politburo of the Communist Party of China at the 4th Plenum of the 14th Central Committee.
Huang's rise in Shanghai politics was largely credited to the patronage of Jiang Zemin, who served as the head of the party committee in Shanghai until the latter's sudden appointment to become General Secretary of the Communist Party following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Huang was seen as one of Jiang's most trusted confidantes in Shanghai, and Jiang's elevation to become the party's top leader paved the way Huang to climb higher on the party's career ladder. Huang was said to be so thankful of Jiang's patronage that while on a working visit to New York during his term of Shanghai mayor, Huang and his entourage, immediately after leaving the airport, proceeded first thing to wine-and-dine Jiang's son Jiang Mianheng.
During Huang's term of party chief of Shanghai, he kept the city's party organization in line, and is remembered by some as having raised the income of Shanghai residents. The Pudong New Area also saw explosive growth under Huang. While Shanghai's economic growth continued during Huang Ju's time as the city's leader, most observers credit Shanghai's success to the work of Zhu Rongji and Xu Kuangdi. Among the mayors of Shanghai in the late 20th century, Huang was the least popular. During his term as Shanghai party chief, Huang often criticized mayor Xu Kuangdi, and opposed Xu's holding higher office. Because Xu was a popular figure in Shanghai, Huang's open suppression of Xu damaged his reputation among ordinary residents. In Shanghai political circles, Huang earned a reputation as being extremely adept at crafting relationships with his superiors. However, both Huang's successor Chen Liangyu and Jiang Zemin evaluated Huang's term in Shanghai with gushing praise, stating that Huang was instrumental in contributing to Shanghai's economic growth.
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.
Ascension to Beijing
Huang's patron, General Secretary Jiang Zemin, was due to leave his party leadership post in 2002, handing the reins of power to a new generation of leaders led by Hu Jintao. In the lead-up to the 16th Party Congress held in the autumn of 2002, Jiang worked to promote some of his former associates in Shanghai to the Politburo Standing Committee, the de facto top decision making body of the country. Initially Huang was said to have been offered to replace Ding Guangen to take over the central propaganda department, but Huang declined. Jiang also reportedly proposed that Huang lead the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which entailed a seat on the Standing Committee. Eventually, it was settled that Huang would earn a seat on the Standing Committee as Executive Vice-Premier assisting Wen Jiabao, replacing outgoing Vice-Premier Li Lanqing.
Huang's appointment was controversial, not only because of his poor reputation in Shanghai, but also because he was seen as highly partisan, and that he was tapped for promotion solely due to his coziness with Jiang and not as a result of tangible achievements. Back in 1997, Huang's election to the 15th Central Committee received only 1,455 votes in favour, out of 2,074 votes cast, and some 300 votes against, unusually low in Chinese national politics. This meant that nearly one third of party delegates did not even approve of Huang's central committee membership. In 2002, of the full members of the Central Committee, Huang again received the lowest number of votes of anyone elected, meaning that in theory, there was a real possibility that Huang would not have entered the Standing Committee at all.
Nevertheless, on November 15, 2002, Huang was officially named a member of the 9-man Politburo Standing Committee, joining other Jiang associates such as Jia Qinglin, Zeng Qinghong, and Li Changchun on the supreme body. In March 2003, he was confirmed by the National People's Congress as Vice-Premier of the State Council, ranking first.
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. Huang served as the deputy leader of the Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs.
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 suggest 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 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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- "徐才厚亮相已白头 处理或参照黄菊模式". Duowei News. January 21, 2014.
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- 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