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Huang Ju, Powerful Chinese Official, Dies at 68 |
By JIM YARDLEY
BEIJING, Saturday, June 2 — Huang Ju, a Politburo member who rose out of Shanghai’s political elite to become one of the most powerful leaders in China, died Saturday morning after a long illness, state news media reported. Mr. Huang was 68.
Mr. Huang’s health, as well as his political fate, had been the subject of speculation for months. He ranked sixth in the Communist Party hierarchy and his death will create a political opportunity for Hu Jintao, the president and chief of the Communist Party.
Mr. Huang had been an ally of former President Jiang Zemin, but now Mr. Hu has an opportunity to consolidate his own power by filling Mr. Huang’s slot on the Politburo Standing Committee, the elite group of nine senior officials who rule China.
Mr. Jiang’s portfolio on the Standing Committee was dominated by financial affairs. He presided over reforms to the banking system and was the leadership’s designated point person in efforts to modernize the financial system.
Mr. Huang’s official obituary did not list a cause of death, but he is believed to have been suffering from pancreatic cancer. His public appearances had become infrequent during the past year and rumors swirled that he might be toppled as part of a sweeping corruption investigation in Shanghai ordered by President Hu.
Last year, speculation circulated in Beijing that Mr. Huang and another Politburo member, Jia Qinglin, might be stripped of power.
Instead, Mr. Huang was hailed in the official obituary as “a long-tested and faithful Communist fighter and an outstanding leader of the party and the state.”
Mr. Huang was born in September 1938 in coastal Zhejiang Province and joined the Communist Party in 1966, according to an official biography released by Xinhua, China’s official news agency. Like so many leaders of his generation, Mr. Huang trained as an engineer and steadily began working his way up the party’s political ladder.
His base was Shanghai, where he climbed through the ranks and came to the attention of Mr. Jiang, then party boss in the city. Mr. Huang himself would serve as Shanghai’s party secretary from 1995 to 2002, and then join the Politburo Standing Committee in Beijing. He also served as a vice prime minister in the State Council, the equivalent of China’s cabinet. In both capacities, he was regarded as member of the political faction loyal to the retired Mr. Jiang.
The opening on the Politburo comes months before an important party meeting this fall in which a new leadership lineup is expected to be announced. At that meeting, President Hu is expected to reshape the membership of the Politburo with allies.
Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company, Used without permission.