Zhao Leji (Chinese: 赵乐际; pinyin: Zhào Lèjì; born 8 March 1957) is a Chinese politician, who is the current chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the third-ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
In his earlier political career, he served as the Communist Party Secretary of Qinghai, the party secretary of Shaanxi, and the head of the Organization Department of the CCP. He entered the CCP Politburo in 2012 and was promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee five years later. Between 2017 and 2022, he was the secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's top anti-corruption body.
Early life Edit
Zhao Leji was born in Xining, Qinghai province on 8 March 1957. His parents were from Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The family moved to Qinghai as part of the aid the frontiers programs of the Mao years. In 1974, during the later years of the Cultural Revolution, Zhao went to the countryside as a sent-down youth to perform manual labour at an agricultural commune in Guide County, Qinghai. After working there for about a year, Zhao returned to the city to become a communications assistant at the Commerce Department of the Qinghai provincial government.
Zhao joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1975 and entered Peking University in 1977 as a Worker-Peasant-Soldier student; he received an undergraduate degree of philosophy there in January 1980. He then spent three years teaching at the Qinghai School of Commerce, holding various positions such as instructor, secretary of the Communist Youth League (CYL) wing of the provincial department of commerce, as well as the deputy head of the dean's office. In 1983, he returned to the Qinghai Commerce Department as the deputy Party secretary of the Political Department, as well as the secretary of the Department's CYL Committee, working there until 1984.
Between 1984 and 1986, he worked as the general manager and Party secretary of the Electronic and Chemical Corporation of Qinghai. In April 1986, he became deputy head and deputy Party secretary of the provincial Commerce Department, being promoted to its head and Party secretary in 1991, working there until 1994.
Local careers Edit
In 1993, Zhao was appointed as an assistant governor of Qinghai, entering the provincial government and becoming part of the inner circle of then Qinghai party secretary Yin Kesheng. He was then elevated to vice governor of Qinghai in 1994, and then was appointed as Party secretary of his hometown Xining in 1997. He acceded to the post of governor in 1999 at age 42, becoming the youngest provincial governor in the country at the time. He was additionally was appointed as a member of the CCP Central Committee after the 16th CCP National Congress in 2002.
Having 'jumped' several levels in a short period of time, Zhao's upward trajectory began to slow by the turn of the century. Zhao became Party secretary of Qinghai in 2003 after having spent nearly five years in the Governor's office. Part of his inability to move to a more economically prosperous and more politically visible province was attributed to his Shaanxi background. He spoke in Shaanxi dialect even at government meetings.
Zhao's tenure in Qinghai was marked by rapid economic growth, and a tripling of the province's GDP from the time he took office as Governor to when he left as party secretary in 2007. It was said that Zhao took a relatively soft approach on ethnic minority issues and took on environmentally conscious investment projects. His achievements in Qinghai were lauded by the party's central leadership.
In 2007, Zhao was transferred to become party secretary in his parents' home province of Shaanxi, having taken on the top jobs in both his 'native' province and the province of his birth, breaking an unspoken rule in the Communist Party that party secretaries should never hail from the province they are native to. This was seen as an indication of the trust shown to Zhao by the central leadership. In 2008, Shaanxi's GDP growth figures hit 15%, becoming one of only two provincial-level divisions to set sights on GDP growth rates of over 13%. In Shaanxi, Zhao oversaw the expansion and development of the GuanZhong-TianShui (关中-天水) economic belt.
Central leadership Edit
Politburo Standing Committee Edit
Zhao was chosen to be the 6th-ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body, at the 1st Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the CCP on 25 October 2017. In the same Session, he succeeded Wang Qishan to become the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's highest internal-control institution that has been noted for executing CCP general secretary Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign. According to The Wall Street Journal, Zhao "has been taking a largely hands-off approach during his time in office and barely involved in making decisions on investigations".
Following the first plenary session of the 20th CCP Central Committee, Zhao was reappointed to the Politburo Standing Committee, becoming its 3rd-ranked member, and was succeeded by Li Xi as the CCDI secretary. On 10 March 2023, he was appointed as the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, succeeding Li Zhanshu.
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