Meng Xuenong

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Meng Xuenong
孟学农
Governor of Shanxi province
In office
September 2007 – September 2008
Party Secretary Zhang Baoshun
Preceded by Yu Youjun
Succeeded by Wang Jun
Mayor of Beijing
In office
January 2003 – April 2003
Party Secretary Liu Qi
Preceded by Liu Qi
Succeeded by Wang Qishan
Personal details
Born August 1949 (age 65)
Penglai County, Shandong
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Alma mater University of Science and Technology of China
Occupation Politician

Meng Xuenong (simplified Chinese: 孟学农; traditional Chinese: 孟學農; pinyin: Mèng Xuénóng; born August 1949) is a Chinese politician. Meng worked as a factory worker in Beijing before getting involved in politics through the local Communist Youth League organization. He was the Vice Mayor of Beijing between 1993 and 2003, before being promoted to mayor for a brief interlude in 2003. He was sacked as mayor only after a few months on the job due to his government's mismanagement of the SARS epidemic.

Meng then worked as a low-profile functionary in the South-North Water Transfer Project, before making a political comeback as the Governor of Shanxi province in 2007. He resigned that post a year into his term, following what was considered a botched response to the 2008 Shanxi mudslide by the provincial government. In December 2009, Meng was given a post on the body that manages the work of the directly-controlled organizations of the Communist Party's central committee (中共中央直属机关工作委员会). In 2012, he gained a largely ceremonial post as the head of a legal affairs committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

He has been a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China since November 2002.[1]

Career[edit]

Meng was born in Penglai County, Shandong. Meng studied engineering[2] at Beijing Normal University (1969–72) during the later stages of the Cultural Revolution before being assigned to Beijing's No.2 Motor Vehicle Plant.[3] He joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in July 1972,[1] rising through the ranks of the Beijing municipal Communist Youth League (CYL) and the car industry. In 1986 he was transferred to senior posts in the hospitality industry, briefly serving as General Manager of the Beijing Hotel group. He then spent four years (1991–1995) at the University of Science and Technology of China, alongside Qiang Wei (强卫), who has been a consistent colleague.[3] After graduating with an MBA,[4] he became a vice-mayor of Beijing in 1993.[1]

In January 2003 he was appointed deputy Party chief of the CPC Beijing Committee and Mayor of Beijing Municipality.[1] The SARS crisis hit Beijing sometime in March, and Meng is said to have moved patients between hospitals in a botched cover-up that worsened the outbreak.[5] The Politburo Standing Committee decided to remove him from his posts on 16 April as part of a double sacking with health minister Zhang Wenkang. The pair were held responsible both for the public health failure and the damage to trust in the Party. The sacking was described by one journalist as "the biggest political earthquake since the time of Tiananmen in 1989."[6][7] The harsh treatment was privately questioned by other cadres in Beijing, but they were assured that Meng's co-operative attitude would be rewarded.[8] Five months later, he was quietly created deputy director of the South-North Water Transfer Project, reporting to the State Council.[1]

Meng was appointed Vice Secretary of the CPC Shanxi Committee on 30 August 2007 as part of a wider Party reshuffle, and then elected Vice Governor and acting Governor by the Shanxi Provincial People's Congress on 3 September.[1] His fortunes, however, proved short-lived when he resigned on September 14, 2008 after the mudslide in Xiangfen.[9]

Faction and policies[edit]

Meng is a member of the tuanpai faction of former Communist Youth League officials and has close personal ties to Party General secretary Hu Jintao.[10] As he stated himself, "My career in the CCYL [sic] provided a foundation for my political career later on."[11] At a news conference in January 2003, he portrayed himself as an old friend of Hu, stating "Cadre Jintao was a major leader in the Communist Youth League 20 years ago and some of us worked under his leadership... What I remember most deeply are his fairness, personal integrity and selflessness. Those qualities make up his unique charisma."[12] However, this has been subsequently disputed.[13] Hu allegedly fired his protégé in order to remove Zhang, linked to rival Jiang Zemin.[14] Some reports claimed the mayor was "sacrificed" to protect Liu Qi.[7] It has even been claimed that Meng is closer to Liu (and thus Jiang) than Hu.[13] However, most commentators saw Meng's return to power as a sign of the tuanpai faction's dominance.[14][15]

The People's Daily has portrayed Meng as reformist. He claims his CYL experience helps him stay in touch with young people and remain open-minded. He used to live in Beijing's Siheyuan (traditional working-class housing), and (as of 2003) kept in touch with his former neighbours, claiming a special understanding of the people.[16] On his election in Taiyuan, he told delegates, "I will do my utmost best to get familiar with Shanxi and become like a native... [the governorship is] a great honour, but also comes with great responsibility." [17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Meng Xuenong appointed acting governor of north China's Shanxi Province". Xinhua. 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  2. ^ "Business Briefs". South China Morning Post. 2003-01-20. 
  3. ^ a b "Meng Xuenong". China Vitae. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  4. ^ "Local Leadership". 2003. Xinhua. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  5. ^ (SCMP editorial) (2003-05-19). "For a cleaner Beijing, sort out the city's bureaucratic mess". South China Morning Post. 
  6. ^ Francesco Sisci (2003). "China's bureaucracy: A virus's best friend". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  7. ^ a b John Pomfret (2003-04-21). "SARS Coverup Spurs A Shake-Up in Beijing". Washington Post: A01. 
  8. ^ Xu Yufang (2003). "China's atypical politics". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  9. ^ "Meng Xuenong Resigns" (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. 2008-09-14. Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  10. ^ Nailene Chou (2003-10-02). "Rapid return to the top for sacked Beijing mayor". South China Morning Post. 
  11. ^ Bo, Zhiyue (2007). China's Elite Politics: Political Transition and Power Balancing. World Scientific. p. 183. ISBN 981-270-041-2. 
  12. ^ Oliver August (2003-01-21). "New Chinese leader consolidates his hold". The Times. 
  13. ^ a b Wang Zhengxu (2003-12). "Hu Jintao's Power Consolidation:" (– SCHOLAR SEARCH). Issues & Studies 42 (4): 97–136.  Check date values in: |date= (help)[dead link] See page 110, especially n.27.
  14. ^ a b Wu Zhong (2003). "Balancing act at the party congress". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  15. ^ Cary Huang (2007-09-01). "Hu protege resurrected ahead of congress". South China Morning Post. 
  16. ^ Xinhua (2003). "Beijing's New Mayor a Man of the People". People's Daily. Retrieved 2007-09-07. 
  17. ^ Chow Chung-yan (2007-09-05). "Official sacked over Sars fiasco vows to do better in Shanxi". South China Morning Post.  It is highly unlikely the final phrase is a pop culture reference.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Liu Qi
Mayor of Beijing
2003
Succeeded by
Wang Qishan
Preceded by
Yu Youjun
Governor of Shanxi
2007-2008
Succeeded by
Wang Jun