Wang Qishan: Rise of a troubleshooter

Updated: 2012-12-25 22:00


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Wang's star rose with the fall of China's inflation.

He and his team faced a tough challenge when he became vice premier in charge of finance and trade in 2008: to tame rising inflation while maintaining economic growth.X China's consumer price index (CPI) rose to an 11-year high of 7.1 percent in January 2008, becoming a top concern for the government.

To make matters worse, the global financial crisis started to sweep the world at the end of that year, creating an adverse external environment for the Chinese economy.

The CPI dropped to a 33-month low of 1.7 percent in October this year.

Wang, born in July 1948, was elected a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee's Political Bureau and appointed chief of the ruling party's anti-graft body last month, just a few days after the October inflation index was announced.

The other six members of the Standing Committee are Xi Jinping, who was also elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, as well as Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli.

Wang was first noticed by the international financial community in 1998, when he became executive deputy governor of south China's Guangdong to straighten widespread financial disorder in the province.

The toughest test for Wang was to tackle the payment crisis of the non-banking financial institutions in Guangdong, which had total liabilities of more than 100 billion yuan.

As Wang proposed, the Guangdong International Trust and Investment Corporation (GITIC), which was then the second-largest trust company in China and was at the center of the crisis, was declared bankrupt, and the Yuehai Business Group was regrouped.

The move prevented further excessive lending in Guangdong and helped maintain the government's credit. The debt crisis was cleaned up three years later.

As former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson put it, "Wang managed the largest bankruptcy restructuring in China's history in 1998 and thereby prevented a banking crisis that could have crippled the country's growth."

His prowess as a problem solver, however, goes beyond the financial community.

Wang was transferred to Beijing in April 2003 to replace Mayor Meng Xuenong at a time when an outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) had claimed more than 100 lives across the country, with many cases in the city.

Once he arrived in Beijing on April 22, Wang went to markets and pharmacies to investigate the problem of vegetable, food and medicine shortages as a result of the epidemic-triggered widespread scare.

The municipal government issued an order the next day, introducing strict screening and quarantine measures to stem contamination channels.

The first executive meeting of the municipal government after Wang took office lasted only 30 minutes. Wang began the meeting with a warning: "Let's take what we say here seriously."

Then, the construction of a special hospital for epidemic emergencies started the same day.

The epidemic was brought under control one month after Wang took office in Beijing. His weight, however, dropped 10 kg in the first half year he worked in the city.

As executive chairman of the organizing committee of the 2008 Olympic Games when he served as Beijing mayor and director of the organizing committee of the Shanghai World Expo when he served as vice-premier, Wang also made painstaking efforts and contributed wisdom to the two events that grabbed global attention.